Parents Who Came Under Fire for YouTube Prank on Kids Could Face 10 Years in Prison If Convicted
Michael and Heather gained notoriety after a video of them playing an expletive-laced prank on their children went viral.
The Maryland couple who gained internet infamy after a video of them playing an expletive-laced prank on their children went viral may face up to 10 years in prison.
Michael and Heather Martin have been charged with two counts each of neglect of a minor after making headlines in April for posting a since-removed video to YouTube that many viewers blasted as abusive.
The video, posted to their channel, “DaddyOFive,” shows Heather Martin spreading what she said was ink that would soon disappear, but she and her husband later blame two of the children for the stains.
Both dad and stepmom can be heard cursing and shouting during the ordeal, which left the children in tears – an outcome typical of some of the 300 videos they posted online.
The videos have since been removed from YouTube.
One month after the video surfaced, Michael Martin’s children, 12-year-old Emma and 9-year-old Cody, were removed from the home by Frederick County officials and placed in the custody of their biological mother, Rose Hall.
In a May 1 clip posted by Hall and her attorney, she called the videos and behavior pictured “very heartbreaking and disturbing.”
The two children removed from the home were the youngest of five kids in total.
Michael and Heather Martin issued an apology for their behavior in April, telling Inside Edition, “We got carried away in the moment.”
“I acknowledge and I respect how everyone feels about this and I do agree we put things on the internet that should not be there," Michael Martin said in a video posted online. "We did things we should not do."
Heather Martin added that the videos began as something the family did together and the children were excited about them.
But they “went from something that wasn’t so bad and then we just kept going more and more for the shock factor... to see what could get more views,” she said.
Prosecutors filed charges against the Martins on July 27.
They said the couple neglected Emma and Cody between November 2016 and April 2017, the Frederick News Post reported.
The pair face up to five years in prison per count and a $5,000 fine.
Their attorney, Stephen Tully, told the Frederick News Post that his clients have reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, but would not comment further.
They are due in court for a plea hearing on Sept. 11.
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