A YouTube star known for videos about her seven adopted children is now accused of abusing them, even locking them in a closet for days.
Machelle Hackney’s adopted children had no food, water or access to a bathroom for days while inside the closet at her home in the small Arizona city of Maricopa, south of Phoenix, according to a police report. She allegedly used pepper spray to discipline the children. The report says that officers who went to the house last week reported that six of the children appeared malnourished and underweight. She’s also accused of sexually abusing the children in addition to inflicting emotional and physical abuse upon them.
"I either get beat with a hanger or belt, or a brush, or get pepper sprayed from head to toe,” one of the children told investigators in a police report obtained by KNXV in Southern Arizona.
Hackney's YouTube channel, “Fantastic Adventures,” has nearly 800,000 subscribers and it features seemingly fun-loving clips about food fights and nerf battles. Now it appears that the adventures may not have been fantastic at all. Investigators now say that the children were forced to participate and were even abused if they did not recite their lines correctly.
Hackney's older biological daughter tipped off officials about the alleged abuse, KNXV reports.
Hackney, 48, is being held at the Pinal County Jail on suspicion of two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child abuse and five counts of unlawful imprisonment and child neglect.
It was unclear Tuesday whether Hackney had a lawyer. Hackney “denied the pepper spray, denied the ice baths and stated the only forms of punishment she uses is having to stand in the corner, getting spankings and being grounded,” according to the police report cited by KNXV.
The Department of Children Services has been called to the home more than five times, according to KNXV. They now have custody of all seven adopted children.
Hackney’s two adult sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney were also arrested. They are accused of knowing about the abuse, but not reporting it, according to AzFamily.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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