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Who Is Machelle Hackney? New Details About The YouTube Mom Accused Of Pepper-Spraying Her Kid

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Who Is Machelle Hackney? New Details About The YouTube Mom Accused Of Pepper-Spraying Her Kid

An Arizona mom who ran a popular YouTube channel that starred her seven adopted children is facing multiple charges of abuse and unlawful imprisonment. 

Machelle Hackney, 48, was arrested in her Maricopa home on Friday along with her two adult sons, Ryan and Logan, after one of Hackney's biological children alerted the police about the alleged abuse. A welfare check was conducted and what police discovered was horrifying — and far from the picture-perfect reality she presented on YouTube.

Hackney ran a YouTube channel called "Fantastic Adventures" that attracted over 700,000 followers and 242 million views. It starred "the adopted children in different scenarios," police said. 

So who is Machelle Hackney? Here's everything we know about her and the alleged abuse she put her adopted children through.

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1. Her children endured horrific abuse.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Hackney beat and starved her children. She would keep them locked in a closet with no bathroom breaks for days and force them to take ice baths. If they resisted the cold water, she would hold their heads under it.

Punishments also included forcing the children to stand in a corner with their arms raised above their heads from morning till night, pepper-spraying them and pinching their genitals. 

The punishment came "if they do not recall their lines or do not participate as they are directed to" for the YouTube videos. The children range from 6 to 15 years old.

2. They were kept out of school. 

Hackney would take her kids out of school "so they can keep filming their series." The children told police that they had not been in school "for years."

When police interviewed the children, one of them said that he "was in the green screen room most of his life.” 

Police say they were also beaten with belts, brushes and hangers.

3. Hackney's daughter alerted the police. 

Hackney's 19-year-old daughter Megan told officers on March 13 that her adopted sister was being abused by her mother. 

"The abuse was described as being pepper sprayed, left in a locked closet for days at a time with no food, water or restroom, and [she] stated her 6 other siblings [were] being punished in the same manner,” the affidavit reads.

When police arrived to the home, they found one child inside an unlocked closet wearing nothing but a pull-up and found the other six children to be "malnourished, due to their pale complexion, dark rings under their eyes, underweight, and they stated they were hungry and thirst.”

One child reportedly drank three 16-ounce bottles of water within 20 minutes and another was fearful to eat a bag of chips because "she did not want her mother Machelle to smell chips on her breath.”

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4. Her adult sons "thought" about reporting the abuse.

Ryan and Logan Hackney were arrested on seven counts of failing to report abuse of a minor. 

“Logan admitted the children were locked in the closet for long periods as punishment,” the affidavit alleges. “He had knowledge of Machelle forcing them to take ice baths, and kids being pepper sprayed. Logan stated he observed visible physical injuries on the kids and recalls hearing them screaming and crying. The children stated Ryan would sneak them food when they were locked in the green room.”

While they had talked about reporting the abuse, they didn't. They were not held on bond and they have both been released.

5. Hackney was also charged with child molestation. 

Hackney was charged with seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment, five counts of child neglect and two counts of child molestation, though police did not comment on that.

She was booked into Pinal County jail where she remains on a $200,000 bond. She denies any allegations of abuse, even after police found two cans of pepper spray in her bedroom.

“Machelle stated the green closet in her bedroom is never used for punishment, 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,” the affidavit reads.

The seven children have since been removed from the home. Hackney will appear in court on March 26. Her channel has since been terminated for "violating YouTube's Community Guidelines."

"We take safety on YouTube very seriously," a spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement. "We work closely with leading child safety organizations and others in our industry to protect young people. When we're made aware of serious allegations of this nature we take action, which may include suspending monetization, or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating channels."

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Emily Blackwood is a writer and editor living in California. She covers all things news, pop culture, and true crime.