With the widespread use of social media, many people have risen to a level of fame through a massive following on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. People post videos that can be shared by thousands of people, if users deem them funny or interesting enough, causing uploaders to go viral and possibly make revenue through sponsors and other supporters. However, along with the benefits that come with being famous on social media, there come disadvantages. A Maryland couple who had gained popularity through a series of Youtube videos is now learning that the hard way.
The Maryland couple named Mike and Heather Martin have a Youtube channel called “DaddyOFive” that are centered around controversial pranks they pull on their children. They often posted intimate moments of their life on the website to garner laughs from their large following of subscribers. The videos are filled with profanity and contain behavior from the parents that many concerned bloggers considered abusive.
In one of the videos, Mike and Heather are seen screaming at 9-year-old Cody, one of their five children, and accusing him of spilling some ink on their carpet. He didn't spill any ink, the fake ink was spilled on the carpet by the parents who were in on the prank. Another video displays the parents shoving Cody into a bookcase. In another video, Mike encourages Cody to slap Emma, his 11-year-old sister. After agreeing to do so, he slaps her hard enough to make her cry on camera. It wasn't long before the once supportive subscribers began speaking out against the family's concerning behavior.
When Cody and Emily's biological mother, Rose Hall, caught wind of the videos, she immediately took legal action. And now, the estranged girlfriend has obtained emergency custody of her children. After her relationship with Mike ended, she had lost custody of both of her children in a heated legal battle. She claims that she hasn't seen her daughter since 2015 and that she hasn't seen her son since 2014. She had previously reported the videos to law enforcement in North Carolina in October of last year, but they didn't respond to the allegations because they were out of the department's jurisdiction. According to Rose's lawyer, Tim Conlon, a child protective services investigation involving all the of children is underway.
“Emma and Cody are with me,” she said visibly nervous in a video. “They're doing good. They're getting back to their playful selves.”
Less than a week after the custody altercation ensued, the couple posted a video apologizing to their friends and dedicated viewers. They claim that they are currently attending counseling. They proceeded to say that the prank reactions were “faked,” and that the videos did not reflect who they are as a family.
“We realize we had made some terrible parenting decisions, and we just want to make things right,” Heather Martin said in the video.
The permanent child custody arrangements for Cody, Emma, and the other kids have yet to be released to the public.
If you would like to pursue a case in regard to the custody of your child, contact the experienced attorneys at Benassi & Benassi for a consultation.