A prominent figure in the YouTube vegan world, Harley Johnstone or Durian Rider, has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and rape. Johnstone is a self-proclaimed health and nutrition guru that vlogs on YouTube about veganism, cycling, and his trips around the world. The allegations by the women outline a man that manipulated young followers by gaining their trust, grooming them, and forcing them into unwanted sexual acts.
Harley can be found on several YouTube Channels. His main channel Durian Rider has over 211,000 subscribers. His YouTube account states his videos have been viewed more than 190 million times. In the vegan fitness world, Johnstone is seemingly well known, respected, and followed by adoring fans.
On his channel, he talks to subscribers about diet, exercise, making money on YouTube, traveling, and the world of veganism. He and his girlfriend, Natasha, bike around Thailand in tightly fitted cycling outfits. Many of his videos are of his girlfriend’s behind as he bikes behind her.
On his webpage, Harley appears fascinated by young women. His cover for his coaching and nutrition page is not a picture of him, but rather a photo of a barely clothed woman in thong panties. Harley’s channel sells his whacky philosophies of eating only raw food, adding copious amounts of sugar to everything, and eating 30 bananas a day.
Like many wanna-be gurus, Harley has a lot of ideas about nutrition. He tells his followers to eat unlimited carbs, fruit, and sugar. Through this diet, he says people will lose weight.
For more than eight years, Harley has crafted a large following on YouTube. However, his start on YouTube was catapulted by his involvement with another YouTuber Freelee the Banana Girl. Freelee has more than 787,000 subscribers.
Harley and Freelee had a long-term relationship, and he used his relationship with her to start his own YouTube channel. As the two of them grew their empire, the couple earned celebrity status in the online Vegan world.
Then Freelee and Harley split up. Once they split up, Freelee shared with followers the truth about Harley. She said he was a liar, philanderer, and abusive.
After they split up, Harley used his status as a quasi-celebrity to gain access to the young women within the vegan community. Harley, who lives in Thailand, hung out with other ex-pats that transplanted themselves into the country.
Young women that came to Thailand and got involved in the vegan community knew all about him. Harley who is in his mid-40s fancied the youngest women he could find. Often he went after barely legal teens.
In a YouTube video uploaded to NorVegan in January 2018, a woman 0utlines how Harley used his celebrity to force her into unwanted sex. The woman, who was only 18 at the time, said she met Harley through friends. She said she had followed Harley for years and was a fan of his content on YouTube.
According to the woman, Harley pursued interactions with her after their initial meeting. He attempted to kiss her while the two discussed YouTube videos. Harley used his YouTube fame to persuade her to hang out with him by offering to help her with her channel.
During the interaction, the woman says Harley tried to kiss her multiple times. She deflected his advances and attempted to change the subject. However, she noted Harley was relentless and made her feel guilty for not wanting to be with him.
Later that evening, Harley convinced the woman to go to his room with him. While in the room, he offered to give her a leg massage. During the massage, Harley again tried to kiss the woman. Again, she deflected his advances. Harley pestered her to give in to his advances. Eventually, the woman said she relented because he had convinced her she was crazy to turn him down.
Watch her take here:
The video uploaded by the NorVegan Channel was an example to demonstrate a pattern of behavior. Harley propositioned young and naive women. Through his YouTube fame, he gained their trust and asked to collaborate with the women. Despite women rejecting his advances, he used manipulation, his age, fame, and power to achieve the desired sexual interaction he wanted.
While the first example describes a woman manipulated into a consensual relationship, the next set of allegations are far more sinister.
Hannah says she met Harley at a potluck in 2015. She struck up a conversation with him about an Ebook she was writing. Johnstone had recently written an EBook and asked Hannah to help him with a cover for the book. Hannah told Harley her laptop was upstairs in her apartment, and the two went upstairs.
When they got in the room, Hannah says she started working on her laptop. She and Harley talked about covers, graphics, and layouts. Then Harley took her computer and typed a question on the screen. He asked her if she would kiss him. Hannah kindly turned down the offer.
In the first exchange, Hannah was able to redirect Harley, and they continued working. However, their next encounter turned far darker. She met Harley at his apartment to help with the EBook cover. Again, Harley asked to kiss Hannah.
Hannah says that Harley was much more aggressive this time. He groped her, kissed her, and asked her to have sex with him. She said she made excuses that she needed to leave, had her period, or that she didn’t think it was right given his recent breakup.
Again, Harley began groping, kissing, and asking for sex. Hannah said she told him no, and got up to try to leave. After she stood up to leave, Hannah alleges Harley choked her, threw her down and raped her.
A year after the event, Harley began accusing another YouTuber of using their celebrity status to lure girls to his room to have sex with him. Seeing the video, Hannah decided that she needed to speak out about what Harley had done to her.
In the video, Hannah only mentions that Harley used his YouTube fame to lure her to help him with his book. She said he tried to kiss her multiple times, but she did not say he raped her.
Following her video, the vegan YouTube world went wild. Many ran to Harley to tell him about Hannah’s accusations. When he learned about Hannah’s accusations, Harley started a smear campaign against her. He uploaded numerous videos minimizing the interaction and saying the interaction was consensual.
In addition to the YouTube videos, Harley used his Tumblr account to call Hannah a whore, promiscuous, and tell everyone that she wanted it.
Finally, after Harley’s relentless campaign to discredit her, she and her husband made a series of videos about Harley. In the final episode, uploaded in June 2018, Hannah reshares the incident from 2015.
Her account is nearly identical to the first time she told the story. However, near the end of the story, she became visibly upset, her voice cracked, and she looked to her boyfriend. Her boyfriend took over and said, “He choked her and forced himself on her.” Then her boyfriend, Michael Helbo, dared Harley to sue him if it wasn’t true.
Following the completion of the three hour documentary on Harley and the rape, Helbo uploaded the video to YouTube.
Despite the allegations, Harley continues to deny he raped Hannah. He continues to upload videos, daily, to multiple YouTube channels. He is now married to a much younger woman that looks strikingly like Hannah.
Fellow vegans in the YouTube community have come to Hannah’s defense and spoken out against Harley’s antagonistic and bullying behavior he does to anyone that speaks out against him. The website Duriander Rapist contains a video of notable YouTubers talking about Harley’s bad behavior.
Even though so many people have accused Harley of harassment, bullying, and rape, vegans continue to follow his channel. His videos average thousands of views, and Harley appears in the videos unphased by the accusations.
While there are always two sides to every story, there appears to be a mounting pile of evidence that Harley Johnstone isn’t the compassionate, loving, and caring man he makes himself out to be on YouTube. Whether others in the vegan community will take notice and stop supporting his channel and businesses remains to be seen.
If you want to watch the documentary that outlines Hannah’s rape, you can watch that here.
*No criminal charges have been filed against Johnstone. The contents described in this article are a result of videos, articles, and email exchanges between Johnstone and others.
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