A Barcelona-based YouTuber faces up to two years in prison over a video in which he fed Oreos filled with toothpaste to a homeless man and joked that it would help him with a long-overdue clean.
Kanghua Ren – known as ReSet to his more than a million subscribers – filmed himself filling the biscuits with toothpaste and replacing them in their packaging before feeding five of them to the homeless man in January last year.
As the 52-year-old man – named by authorities as Gheorge L. – ate the cookies, ReSet jibed: “Maybe I’ve gone a bit far, but look at the positive side: this will help him clean his teeth. I think he hasn’t cleaned them since he became poor.”
ReSet, a 20-year-old originally from China, earned more than €2000 from YouTube for advertising linked to the video, which was viewed thousands of times, according to court documents reported by the Spanish daily El Pais.
He now faces a charge of a crime against moral integrity, with Spanish prosecutors seeking a sentence of two years in prison and an order to pay €30,000 in compensation to the homeless man.
Gheorge L., originally from Romania, said he was ill after eating the toothpaste-filled biscuits. “I got sick after five minutes and threw up,” he related, explaining that he had not known who ReSet was and came to fear for his life.
After the video drew immediate outrage, ReSet returned to see his victim the following day and made a further film. Asking him how the biscuits had gone down, he said: “People exaggerate over jokes in the street (played) on a beggar, when surely if it’s done to a normal person they wouldn’t say anything.”
As the controversy continued to grow, ReSet and a friend again visited Gheorge L. with a camera, with the intention of spending the night with him, at which point a witness called the police.
Prosecutors said ReSet had later deleted the video and offered the homeless man €300 for his silence, in an attempt to “reestablish his image” and “ingratiate himself with public opinion”.
ReSet, who is currently on bail awaiting judgement, had previously offered sandwiches filled with his cats’ excrement to children and elderly people, the court heard.
Gheorge L. told El Pais he had been imprisoned under the Ceaucescu dictatorship in Romania and spent time in a mental institution, but he did not know for what. He said he had never been treated so badly on the street, adding that the bar where he vomited after the incident regularly helped him with food and clothes.