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YouTube terminates 'Fantastic Adventures' channel as stars' adopted mother faces abuse charge

Police said the mother withheld food and water, restricted bathroom access, and beat and pepper-sprayed the children when they failed to follow directions for videos.
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YouTube channel "Fantastic Adventures" was terminated by the platform Wednesday after a mother who ran the account was arrested for allegedly abusing her seven adopted children in order to get them to perform.

Machelle Hackney and her two adult sons were arrested Friday on child abuse charges in Maricopa, Arizona, according to police.

Police said Hackney withheld food and water, restricted bathroom access, and beat and pepper-sprayed the children when they failed to follow directions for YouTube videos, according to a probable cause statement from the Maricopa Police Department.

Image: Machelle Hackney
Machelle Hackney.Pinal County Adult Detention Center

"Fantastic Adventures," which has 700,800 followers and more than 242 million views, features the adopted children in different sketch videos.

YouTube initially demonetized the account when it was informed of the arrest but confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday the account was terminated.

"We work closely with leading child safety organizations and others in our industry to protect young people," YouTube said in a statement. "When we’re made aware of serious allegations of this nature we investigate and take action."

Some of the children told investigators that they had not been to school in years because their adoptive mother removed them to film videos. One said he “was in the green screen room most of his life."

They also claimed their adoptive mother abused them whenever they forgot their lines or didn't participate as instructed, according to court documents. They said Hackney would use a hanger, belt brush or her knuckles to beat them.

The Department of Child Services removed all seven children from Hackney's care and has assisted in having the children forensically interviewed and medically examined.

During a police welfare check, one of the boys was in pain. He said his mother had grabbed his genitals earlier in the day, court documents said.

Another boy said Hackney would pinch the tip of his penis with her nails until it bled.

One of the girls told authorities her adoptive mother pepper-sprayed her genitals, and afterward, she was in pain for days.

She said that Hackney would "pepper spray all over their face and body, spank them, force them to take ice baths and when resisting would force their head underwater as well as she will make them stand in the corner with their arms raised above their head for several hours at a time."

Hackney, who goes by her maiden name, Hobson, denied abusing the children and stated the only forms of punishment she uses is spanking and grounding the children and having them stand in the corner, according to police documents.

Hackney has been charged with seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of child molestation.

She was still in custody as of Wednesday afternoon, but can be released on a $200,000 secured bond, according to a spokeswoman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Department.