An Arizona mother accused of beating and starving her seven adopted children when they failed to perform adequately in her popular YouTube video series has been arrested.
Machelle Hackney was charged with seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of child molestation. According to jail records the 48-year-old mother, who operates the YouTube channel “Fantastic Adventures,” was arraigned Tuesday and being held without bond.
Authorities first performed a welfare check earlier this month after Hackney’s biological daughter, who learned of the alleged abuse from her adopted siblings, reached out to law enforcement, police said.
When officers arrived at the residence, they discovered one child inside a closet while six others appeared to be “malnourished, due to their pale complexion,” with “dark rings under their eyes,” according to the probable cause statement.
The children, whose ages have not been released, told authorities they would often get locked in a closet for days on end without food, water, or access to a bathroom, adding that they also faced beatings, pepper-spray, and ice baths when they failed to follow directions or when they forgot their lines for the YouTube videos.
The family’s channel, which boasts more than 700,000 followers and a massive 242 million views, showcases the adopted children in a series of different sketch videos. The kids also told officers their mother took them out of school years ago so they could dedicate more time to the YouTube channel.
One of the girls told officers her mother used pepper spray on her genitals and that the pain lasted for days.
“I either get beat with a hanger or belt or a brush,” said one of the boys, who also claimed his mother would pinch his genitals to the point of drawing blood.
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SOURCE: New York Daily News – Jessica Schladebeck