A mother and YouTube star has been accused of physically abusing her seven adoptive children if they didn't participate in the videos for her channel "Fantastic Adventures".
She ran Fantastic Adventures, a popular YouTube channel with almost 800,000 subscribers.
In the videos, the kids discuss silly topics and perform what's described as low-fi visual effects and tricks. Machelle Hackney, 48, was charged with two counts of child molestation, seven counts of abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and five counts of neglect, authorities said.
According to CNN, a welfare check last week found the family home was a den of abuse.
Police said Hackney withheld food and water, restricted bathroom access, and beat and pepper-sprayed the children when they failed to follow directions for YouTube videos, according to a probable cause statement from the Maricopa Police Department.
"They stated they are disciplined in the manners above if they do not recall their lines or do not participate as they are directed to", says the document filed in Pinal County, Arizona.
One adult son, Logan, told police he was aware of the children being locked in a closet, forced to take ice baths, and being sprayed with pepper spray.
Ryan Hackney invoked his Miranda rights, but Logan Hackney spoke to police and said the children were locked in the closet, pepper-sprayed and forced to take ice baths, the statement said.
Hobson denies all of the allegations, according to the police report, and maintains that her only forms of punishment have involved making her children stand in a corner, spankings, or groundings. "In cases where there are Community Guidelines violations, we may take additional actions, including terminating the channel".
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But Hobson's two adult sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney, are backing the children's story.
The YouTube channel was still up on the video-sharing site as of Wednesday morning but later appeared to be taken down. "We work closely with leading child safety organisations and others in our industry to protect young people". "We immediately suspended monetization when notified of the arrest".
He also confessed he had knowledge of the alleged pepper spray and ice baths, and had told police he saw physical injuries on the kids and heard them scream and cry.
Hobson's last name was initially listed in court records as Hackney, but the Pinal County Attorney's Office says it has since been corrected.
Logan and Ryan Hackney, Hobson's biological children, were booked into Pinal County Jail on seven counts each of failing to report child abuse. Officers noticed the children looked pale and malnourished.
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