Maryland couple’s YouTube channel, DaddyOFive, featuring now-deleted videos of what they call "pranks" on their children, sparked outrage from viewers, with many saying that their treatment toward their five children has been abusive.
They might have removed the videos, but not before Philip DeFranco, a commentator with a big YouTube presence of his own, used clips from them to raise questions of abuse.
The original video from April 12 shows parents Mike and Heather Martin covering the floor of their son Cody’s bedroom in invisible ink.
They then swear at Cody angrily for making a mess on the carpet, and when he denies it, accuse him of lying. Cody starts bawling, along with his older brother Alex, who is also being pranked.
Their dad, Mike, ends by telling them, “It’s just a prank, bruh.”
Not long after the "prank" was posted, it generated enough complaints that the Martins added a followup addressing “the haters.”
The second video featured Mike and Heather with their brood, defending themselves as just being comedic and labeling criticisms as “hate.”
“A lot of people don’t get it, a lot of people don’t get the humor,” Mike says in the video.
“To all you haters, you’re the ones who give our children drama,” Heather adds.
Actually, no, because the biological mother of two of the children featured in the DaddyOFive YouTube channel and its related alleged child abuse scandal announced that she has obtained emergency custody of those children.
In a new YouTube video with her lawyer Tim Conlon, Rose Hall explained that Cody and Emma are now living with her in North Carolina.
“They’re doing good, they’re getting back to their playful selves,” Hall said throughout the video. “They were reunited with their grandparents and their cousins…Cody is starting to remember everybody, and he’s happy to be home.”
She said that Cody — who took the brunt of the abuse — was slowly making progress.
“One officer brought him out to the car. He said some things that were disturbing, that he hated me, that Mike and Heather told him I threw him away, like he was garbage and I didn’t love him no more … That’s not true at all,” Hall said, elaborating that she had brought him a keepsake he earned from a school program to calm him down. “He has a long road to recovery. It’s gonna take a lot of counseling to help him, a lot of family counseling to get us back on track as a close, tight-knit family, but I know he can do it, and we can all get through this.”
At the end of the video, Hall thanked the YouTube community and several individuals for bringing attention to the Martins’ treatment of the five children.
An online petition drew almost 19,000 signatures to get CPS to investigate the family.
The parents, however, maintain that some of the children’s emotional reactions were staged and that the children were in on the pranks most of the time. The couple made approximately $200,000 to $350,000 annually from the channel, money they said was being saved in a college fund.
“We could give them a whole lot more than we could before,” Heather said of the money. “We just felt like we were doing the best thing we could for them.”