Sentence Reduced for Parents in Abusive YouTube ‘Prank’ Videos

Photo: YouTube

Michael and Heather Martin, the parents behind YouTube channel “DaddyOFive” which chronicled the lives of their family of … wait for it … five, had their probation sentence reduced this week by a judge in Maryland. (Two of the kids are Martin’s children from a previous marriage, and the other three are Heather’s sons.) The couple was originally sentenced to five years of supervised probation in 2017 for child neglect, a sentence based on video content in which Michael would “prank” his youngest son, Cody, often until the boy became distraught. In one video, Michael smashed his son’s Xbox with a hammer in front of him. (It wasn’t his real Xbox, but the child did not know this.) In another, Cody was reprimanded for spilling ink which Michael himself had spilled for the video. In a different video the family convinced Cody, then 9, that he was being adopted out of the family.

“The evaluations that were conducted of Heather and Mike, obviously their judgement was somewhat warped in participating in these videos. But there wasn’t any intent — malicious intent to damage the children,” prosecutor Lindell Angel, the chief of the family violence and sexual assault unit at the state’s attorney’s office in Frederick County, Maryland, said at the time of the sentencing. This week, WUSA 9 reports, that sentence was reduced to unsupervised probation and the couple will be able to seek to have their convictions expunged in three years.

Uncomfortably, the sentence reduction comes amidst allegations that the couple has continued to post videos of their children to YouTube, WUSA 9 also reports. Cody and Emma, Michael’s other biological child, have been in the custody of their biological mother since authorities stepped in to investigate the Martins in 2017. She claims, in a statement sent to the judge who reduced the sentence, that her children’s father “continues to make videos and has a paid web page making money off of children,” the Daily Dot reports. The Martins are still banned, as per their probation, from making and posting videos of their children.

Sentence Reduced for Abusive YouTube ‘Prank’ Parents