Couple Sentenced to 5 Years Probation Over YouTube Pranks They Pulled on Kids
A Maryland husband and wife have been sentenced to five years of probation after an expletive-laced prank on their children went viral.
Michael and Heather Martin entered Alford pleas Monday in Frederick County Circuit Court after they were charged with child neglect.
The charges stemmed from a video they posted to their channel, "DaddyOFive," which showed Heather Martin spreading what she said was disappearing ink around a room. They then recorded their children's reactions as they were blamed 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 posted to the "DaddyOFive" account.
The videos have since been removed from YouTube.
After the clip surfaced in April to worldwide backlash, 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.
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 Martins received a five-year suspended sentence for each charge. Judge Theresa M. Adams ruled that, under the terms of the couple’s probation, the Martins are barred from having contact with Emma, Cody or the children’s mother unless otherwise permitted by a court.
Martins also cannot post recordings or images of Emma and Cody to social media unless it is for legitimate family purposes, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The couple must also submit evaluations and adhere to mental health treatment as advised by their supervising agent.