An Arizona woman has been accused of abusing her seven adopted children who starred in her YouTube videos, CBS affiliate KPHO-TV reports.
Authorities learned about Machelle Hackney’s alleged actions from her 19-year-old daughter, according to police in Maricopa, Arizona.
Hackney and her two adult sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney, were arrested last week, KPHO-TV reports. Machelle Hackney was booked on suspicion of molestation of a child, child abuse, unlawful imprisonment and child neglect, and the men were booked on suspicion of failing to report abuse of a minor.
When police came to the family’s house, they found one child in an unlocked closet who was only wearing a diaper, according to a police report. The other six children appeared to be malnourished.
“I either get beat with a hanger or belt,” one boy told police, according to the report. He also said that he would be pinched in his private parts.
Some of the children told officers that they would be punished with pepper spray. Police found two cans of pepper spray at the house.
The children also told police that they would also be punished by being forced to stand in a corner with their arms above their heads for hours and take ice baths. They also said they wouldn’t eat for days.
Machelle Hackney denied the allegations to police. She said that the only punishments she would use were spankings, having children stand in a corner and grounding them.
The children starred in Machelle Hackney’s YouTube channel that has racked up more than 250 million views since it was created in 2012. The channel has more than three dozen videos, the oldest of which was posted in February 2018.