Arizona woman behind popular YouTube channel accused of abusing adopted children

Arizona woman behind popular YouTube channel accused of abusing adopted children

An Arizona woman and her two adult sons were arrested Friday on charges of abusing her adopted children and forcing them to perform for her YouTube channel. 

Police said Machelle Hackney withheld bathroom access, food and water and beat and pepper-sprayed the seven children when they failed to follow directions for YouTube videos, according to NBC News.

Maricopa police charged Hackney with seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of child molestation. Her adult sons, Logan and Ryan, were also each charged with seven counts of child abuse.

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Hackney’s YouTube channel, “Fantastic Adventures,” has 700,800 followers and has received more than 242 million views. YouTube has demonetized the videos since the arrest. 

The children told police their mother took them out of school to make videos and abused them for forgetting lines or failing to participate.

Police performed a welfare check following a tip from Hackney’s biological daughter. During the check, they discovered one child in an unlocked closet wearing only a pull-up diaper.

"Officers came in contact with the six other children, who appeared to be malnourished, due to their pale complexion, dark rings under their eyes, underweight, and they stated they were thirsty and hungry," according to a probable cause statement from the police. 

One of the girls later told officials Hackney pepper-sprayed her genitals and would force them to take ice baths, force their heads underwater and make them stand in the corner with their arms raised above their heads for hours at a time.

Hackney has denied abusing the children and said the only punishments she imposes are grounding, spanking and having them stand in the corner.