Michael and Heather Martin, the couple behind YouTube channel ‘DaddyOFive’, have been charged with two counts each of child neglect after a psychologist found that their pranks caused “mental injuries” to their kids.
If you’re not familiar with ‘DaddyOFive’, it’s a popular YouTube channel with over 800,000 subscribers. Their content usually involves playing pranks on their children – oft involving physical and emotional abuse.
In one video, for instance, the parents spilled ink on the carpet and blamed their son Cody for it. Much of the scene involved the pair screaming and cursing at the boy as he cried and pleaded.
Other times, they threatened the kids that they’ll be adopted, and another where Michael pushed Cody into a bookcase.
please go report daddyofive on YouTube, he's physically and mentally abusing his children for money/views pic.twitter.com/b5crIcauuj
— h (@chandlerspidey) April 19, 2017
Many YouTubers called them out. Philip DeFranco, a fellow YouTube star, even made a video compiling all their abusive clips. It has received more than three million views and caught the attention of mainstream media.
Michael and Heather responded with a video refuting the accusations but later took it down.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Child Protective Services eventually stepped in, and in May, the couple lost custody of Cody and Emma, who are now with their biological mum Rose Hall.
“They’re doing good,” Hall said about Cody and Emma. “They’re getting back to their playful selves.”
The Martins have since deleted all their videos. They’ve also appeared on US TV to apologise for letting things get out of hand.
Their plea deal involves probation of five years, with no contact with Cody and Emma, nor social media posts about them. They can, however, still post videos of their other kids.
“Just not in the same fashion as before,” their attorney said.