California university sues YouTubers over pranks that caused ‘terror and disruption’
The University of Southern California is suing two YouTube performers who the school says created panic after barging into classrooms to film prank videos for their channels.
Court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times claim the pair caused “terror and disruption” during three “classroom takeover incidents” in the university’s Mark Taper Hall of Humanities.
The YouTubers, Ernest Kanevsky and Yuguo Bai, are not USC students. They could not be reached for comment Monday, and it was unclear whether they have attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
A judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order banning the pair from USC’s downtown Los Angeles campus.
In the latest incident, on March 29, Kanevsky and Bai interrupted a lecture on the Holocaust while pretending to be “a member of the Russian Mafia” and Hugo Boss, a known manufacturer of Nazi uniforms during World War II, according to court documents.
Students ran from the classroom — in some cases tripping over seats and leaving behind laptops and backpacks — in an attempt to flee “what reasonably appeared to them as a credible threat of imminent classroom violence,” the court filing says.
The university’s lawyers said the pair’s conduct “amounts to both a public and private nuisance” that caused students to experience fear and emotional distress.
In September, Kanevsky, Bai and an associate entered a data science lecture and allegedly used physical intimidation to force the professor out of the classroom before taking over the lectern and subjecting the students to “insults and demeaning behavior,” court documents say.
In addition to the restraining order, the suit seeks unspecified compensatory damages, along with attorneys’ fees and other related costs.
Kanevsy’s YouTube channel has more than 111,000 subscribers and his videos have received more than 8.3 million views, the Times reported. The channel features prank videos at universities, in gyms and restaurants, on the beach and in other locations.