The “kid friendly” side of Youtube content can sometimes hold dark secrets, if this case is anything to go by, where creator of the family-orientated channel of ‘Fantastic Adventures’ has been arrested and charged for child abuse, with horrific details cited of what seven adopted children under her care had to endure.
Machelle Hackney, 48, from Arizona, ran the Youtube channel, where her seven adopted children regularly performed as superheroes and as talents in scripted content, which included nerf battles and pleas from the children to ‘like and subscribe’ to the channel. Maricopa Police were called to her home on Friday by her biological daughter, where Machelle was arrested along with her two adult sons, Ryan and Logan Hackney.
Ms Hackney has been accused of beating, starving, pepper-spraying her kids and isolating the children inside a closet, but somehow she denies all the accusations. Police have also alleged that the kids were forced to take ice baths and that one or more of the kids experienced sexual abuse.
‘The Fantastic Adventures’ channel has over 800,000 subscribers and a quarter of a billion views. The channel would upload videos approximately once a week, which would feature the children in wondrous situations, with animated effects exemplifying their superpowers. The YouTube channel made an estimated $2.5million in ad revenue, for which YouTube kept $1.1million, which means it was an extremely popular and successful channel.
According to The Washington Post, the children (aged around 6-15), have now been removed from Ms Hackney’s care by the Department of Child Services, who will now hopefully place the children into better homes.
When police arrived at the scene, one child was allegedly found in an unlocked cupboard, and the “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” police documents stated.
Ms Hackney has been charged with seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of child molestation. Her two sons who helped with the YouTube channel, in video editing and production, were charged for failing to report the abuse, although, they claimed to have discussed reporting the abuse to the police prior to their arrest.
YouTube has stated that since the arrests were made, the channel had been demonetised. However, it’s a little surprising how YouTube hadn’t terminated the channel immediately. While the content itself is innocent enough and it doesn’t breach the platforms guidelines, wouldn’t it surely be the best decision regarding the children’s privacy and wellbeing, to just remove it, right away?
YouTube said in a statement, “When we’re made aware of serious allegations of this nature, we take action, which may include suspending monetisation or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating channels.”
The children told police that they hadn’t been to school in years, and that they were disciplined harshly for not participating in the videos, or if they made any mistakes within them. This would include punishments of being pepper sprayed across their whole bodies, including on their genitals.
One girl told the police that Machelle Hackney (maiden name Hobson) often used pepper spray on her genitals as punishment, after which she was in agonising pain for five full days. Another one of the boys said that Ms Hackney would pinch the tip of his penis so hard with her fingernails, that it would make him bleed.
According to court documents, her children claimed she abused them regularly and she would even use a hanger, belt, brush or even her own fists to beat them. The closet where the children were also kept within, to discipline them, was referred to as “the green room”, emphasising just how sick Machelle Hackney is, in using an industry term for a closet, in which they were kept captive and also had to sleep inside on the cold floor.
A girl said that Ms Hackney would “spank them, force them to take ice baths and when resisting, would force their head underwater as well and she will make them stand in the corner with their arms raised above their heads for several hours at a time.”
Furthermore, the kids would sleep without bedding, and would not be fed or be given water daily, or even be able to use the bathroom for days on end. The true lengths and scale of this child abuse is absolutely shocking, and with two counts of child sexual abuse to add to the list of charges, Machelle Hackney Hobson, will be served justice to the fullest extent of the law, and ultimately she will one day also face further judgment from God.
According to reports, Ms Hackney’s biological son, Ryan, wouldn’t talk to police following the arrest, whom was responsible for the video editing of the channel. However, her other son Logan, told investigators that he was aware of some of the alleged abuse, since he had noticed the children’s injuries. Logan was listed as content creator of the YouTube channel.
Neither of the two sons, ever went to the police regarding the child abuse, but they claimed that they had discussed it before, whilst boasting about how well their YouTube channel was going over social media.
These people are truly sick. No was the police investigations are ongoing and collecting more information form the children, YouTube will be criticised for not removing the channel quickly enough, as these videos are in fact of child abuse, masking as entertainment.
When a court date has been set, you would expect no less than a hefty jail sentence for all parties, who partook and knew about the extent of these crimes against the seven adopted children, which will no doubt leave them scarred for life. A life sentence in a maximum security prison or capital punishment is the only cure for people that molest and abuse children.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: CNN