The Washington Post reports that Machelle Hobson, a 48-year-old YouTube content creator, allegedly starved her seven adopted children and even locked them up in a closet for days.
There were instances where Hobson would pepper spray the children, beat them with belts or hangers, the Post says. They were also made to take ice baths and required to stand with their arms above their hands from day till night.
Authorities in Arizona where Hobson is based, believes that her YouTube channel is the reason for the abuse on her adopted children. They said she carried out different forms of punishments ranging from starvation to physical abuse on the children when they forget their lines for a video.
Based on statements given to child safety officials, the children said they have been pepper-sprayed in the face, bodies and genitals. The children have also been removed from school for years to focus on making videos for Fantastic Adventures. Police who interviewed them described the children as being malnourished and underweight with dark rings around their eyes.
The children are between six to 15 years old. It was Hobson's biological daughter who contacted authorities on March 13 to do a welfare check on the family.
CNN reports that Hobson has been charged with two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child abuse, five counts of child neglect and five counts of unlawful imprisonment. Two of her biological sons have also been arrested for failing to report the abuse that went on in their home.
YouTube has since deactivated the channel after news of Hobson's alleged mistreatment broke. Fantastic Adventures was started in 2012 and had racked up more than 250 million views with over 800,000 subscribers. It featured 10 to 15-minute videos of children playing make-believe, going on cookie capture missions and more.
This isn't the first time that the popular video sharing website has had to take down a channel due to exploitative behaviour. In 2018, YouTube removed FamilyOFive, an account that featured videos of a dad pulling pranks on his three children. It was pulled after users complained that there was evidence of physical violence and verbal abuse in the making of the videos uploaded on to the channel.
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