A Frederick County, Maryland, couple lost temporary custody of their children after YouTube videos showed them shouting and shoving their kids, which the parents said were just video pranks.
Mike and Heather Martin, of Ijamsville, Maryland, had a YouTube channel with videos of their interactions with their children, which some said showed the pair being verbally and physically abusive with their kids, Emma, 12, and Cody, 9. The Martins said the videos were pranks and staged, including their kids’ tearful reactions.
People who saw the videos complained, and the couple took down all the videos except one, where the parents apologized for their actions.
“We realize that we have made some terrible parenting decisions,” Heather Martin said in the apology video.
Tim Conlon, an attorney from Frederick, Maryland, went to court and got an order for the biological mother, who lives in North Carolina, to have temporary custody of the children. He said the children have suffered mental abuse as well as physical abuse.
“Clear evidence of physical abuse is the video where you can see an arm throwing the boy Cody into a book case and then he comes away with a bloody nose, then they follow him into the bathroom while his nose bleeds. He's tearful and inconsolable.” Conlon said. “The kids are going to be deprogrammed like POWs or cult members. There are 400 videos of this stuff that involve vulgarity, shouting, physical portions of it.”
The parents said they are ashamed, but critics have the wrong impression of them.
“We love our kids. They’re the most important thing in the world to us,” Heather Martin said, according to WTOP. “We are not bad people.”
The Fallston Group, a global reputation agency, said the couple is currently in licensed family counseling and working with life coaches. The agency said they hope to support and guide the family back “towards a life which involves very sound decision-making and a strong sense of peach and happiness.”
Another court hearing is scheduled for Friday.