DaddyOFive father, stepmom lose custody of 2 children following YouTube prank video investigation
ROCKVILLE, Md. - A father and stepmother who faced backlash for posting controversial online prank videos involving their children have lost custody of two of them to their biological mother.
Mike and Heather Martin had been under fire for the extreme videos posted to their DaddyOFive YouTube channel. Videos with titles like "PSYCHO CLOWN ATTACKS FAMILY" and "DAD PUNCHES KID IN THE FACE" show extreme pranks involving the family.
Last month, many members of the online community who viewed the videos claimed the children featured were being abused and that child protective services should step in. An online petition was also created in an attempt to get child protective services involved.
In a video posted online Monday, Rose Hall, the biological mother of two of the children, said that she had emergency custody of 9-year-old Cody and 12-year-old Emma. "They're doing good," Hall said in the video first reported on by The DailyMail. "They're getting back to their playful selves." (WATCH ON MOBILE)
"It was very heartbreaking and disturbing to see my kids being abused," Hall also said. "Cody had a difficult time when the officer brought him out to the car. He said some things that were disturbing -- that he hated me."
Hall's attorney, Tim Conlon, told FOX 5 that he picked up his client's case last Wednesday. Two days later, an emergency hearing was held and a judge was convinced enough to issue the emergency custody order for Hall to gain custody of her two children Friday afternoon.
"It is going to be a long time deprogramming these kids from what was going on," said Conlon. "I think that is what convinced the judge to do it."
Cody and Emma were often the focus of the pranks posted online. In one video, titled "INVISIBLE INK PRANK," the Martins pranked Cody in a profanity-filled tirade that left him hysterically in tears.
The Martins claimed all of the pranks were staged and that they often let their children come up with the ideas the videos were based on. After the ‘INVISIBLE INK PRANK’ was published, it was pulled from YouTube for violating the site’s policy on harassment and bullying.
"I think the psychological damage and abuse that is going on in those videos is clear for anybody to see," Conlon said.
Shortly after the video was removed, the Martins posted an apology (WATCH ON MOBILE) and enlisted the services of a crisis management agency to help handle the backlash.
Hall thanked those who tried to help have the children removed and said it was heartbreaking to see the videos.
"It's going to take a lot of counseling to help him," said Hall. "A lot of family counseling to get us all back on track."
Laurie Wasserman, the lawyer for Mike and Heather Martin, released a statement saying, "I am working with Michael and Heather Martin. It would be highly inappropriate for me to discuss the details of this very sensitive matter, or any associated proceedings, publicly. All information will be presented to the Court at the appropriate time."
The Martins and Hall return to court on Friday for another hearing in their custody battle.
Local and state authorities have been investigating the Martin family. The other three children still in the custody of the DaddyOFive family are Heather Martin's children from a previous relationship.