Mom behind popular YouTube channel arrested; faces multiple child abuse charges
(WARNING: This story contains graphic details on allegations of child abuse leveled against a woman. Discretion is advised)
MARICOPA, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- Court documents from Pinal County are providing graphic details into allegations of child abuse leveled against a woman who lives in Maricopa.
While court documents only referred to the woman by her first name and middle initial, Machelle L., and redacted her last name, FOX 10 has learned that the woman's full name is Machelle Lea Hobson. Hobson, along with Logan D. Hackney and Ryan D. Hackney were arrested on March 15 at their home in Maricopa. Logan and Ryan are noted as Machelle's adult sons, and they were arrested on multiple counts of failing to report the abuse of a minor.
According to the documents, officers responded to the Maricopa Police Department regarding a child abuse case and spoke with a female, who said her adoptive sister claimed she was being abused at her Maricopa home by her mother. The adoptive sister's identity and age were redacted in court documents, and the abuse was described by the adoptive sister as her being pepper sprayed, left in a locked closet for days at a time with no food, water or restroom. The adoptive sister also stated that her six other siblings, all children, were being punished in the same manner.
A welfare check, according to court documents, was then conducted at the home. During the welfare check, one child, wearing only a pull-up, was found in an unlocked closet that has a locking mechanism. Officers also came in contact with six other children who appeared to be malnourished. One of the children found said he consumed three 16 oz bottles of water within a 20-minute timeframe and said he was pepper-sprayed numerous times as punishment by Machelle.
In all, seven children were later removed from Machelle's custody by DCS, according to court documents. Via forensics and physical exam, DCS investigators discovered allegations that Machelle pepper-sprayed one female child and her siblings all over their face and body, spanked them and forced them to take ice baths. If they resisted, Machelle would allegedly force the children's head underwater as well. In addition, Machelle allegedly forced the children to stand in a corner, with their arms raised above their head for several hours at a time.
One child, according to court documents, accused Machelle of, on more than one occasion, pinching his private parts with her fingernails to the point of bleeding. Another child also accused Machelle of grabbing his "privates". In addition, one female child said during one incident, she was pepper sprayed in her private parts, and recalled being in pain for about four to five days.
In addition, court documents say the children also made mention to having to take part in Machelle's YouTube channel, and said they were disciplined if they do not recall their lines, or do not participate as they are directed to. They also state the YouTube channel was one of the reasons Machelle took them out of school, and said they have not been in school for years.
Of Machelle's two adult children, only Logan spoke with authorities, according to court documents, as Ryan invoked his Miranda rights. Logan admitted to authorities that the children were locked in the closet for long periods of time as punishment, and said he had knowledge of Machelle forcing them to take ice baths, and kids being pepper sprayed.
Machelle, according to court documents, denied using a green closet in her bedroom for punishment, and also denied pepper-spraying the kids, giving them ice baths, and said the only forms of punishment she used was making kids stand in the corner, as well as spankings and groundings. Machelle has been booked into the Pinal County Jail on two counts of child molestation, seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment, and five counts of child neglect, all felonies.
Meanwhile, one woman who lives nearby reacted to the allegations Tuesday night.
"It seemed like they tried to keep the kids inside a lot," said Samantha Harris. One time, Harris wanted to let her neighbor know about an irrigation problem, but she felt awkward coming to the door.
"I felt like I was imposing when I knocked on the door," said Harris. "And then, when I asked about -- let her know that her irrigation was flooding over into the street, she was just kind of very short with me, and just kind of told me to go."
Harris said she rarely saw the kids.
"If you look around the neighborhood, a lot of the kids play outside," said Harris. "A lot of our kids know each other. I know the two houses down, we were really close with the neighbors across the street. Typically, with the families, we are a pretty tight-knit community."
Report Child Abuse or Neglect to DCS