The Maryland couple behind the viral YouTube "prank" channel DaddyOFive have lost temporary custody of two of their children after a recent "kids prank" video sparked outrage and allegations of child abuse in the YouTube community.
The Frederick County Sheriff's Office on Friday took two of Mike and Heather Martin's children away to be placed in the temporary custody of their biological mother, Rose Hall, Maj. Tim Clarke of the sheriff's office told BuzzFeed News.
Hall's attorney, Tim Conlon, said in a video Monday that the Frederick County Circuit Court had granted her an emergency order for temporary custody of Cody and Emma Martin "so that they'd be safe."
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Conlon said the sheriff's office assisted Hall in "retrieving" her children on Friday.
"It was very heartbreaking and disturbing to see my kids being abused," Hall said in the video, adding that the children were doing good and "getting back to their playful selves."
Mike and Heather Martin expressed remorse for their actions in a video last month. "This has been the absolute worst week of our life and we realized we have made some terrible parenting decisions and we just want to make things right," a tearful Heather said in the video.
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"We went from something that wasn't so bad and then we kept going more and more for the shock factor versus reality to see what could get more views," Heather said.
"And the kids kind of feel like some of it is their fault, and it's not their fault. We're the parents and we should have made better decisions," she said.
Heather said that they were now in family counseling "not only to get through the media stuff, but we need to come back together and have everybody, even the kids, to understand what we did wrong in all of this."
Responding to the custody issue, Laurie Wasserman, an attorney for the Martins, told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that "it would be highly inappropriate for me to discuss the details of this very sensitive matter, or any associated proceedings, publicly."
The Martins are working with Fallston Group, a public relations and crisis management firm, which published a blog post on April 28 saying that the family "truly seemed to love each other but was in crisis and desperately needed stability and a return to normalcy for the kids."
The firm said it did not condone "some of the content" posted to the YouTube channel, but said that the Martins "now fully understand that they crossed the line and they describe how what started out as family fun quickly escalated into shock value for the purpose of viewership and subscriptions."
"They were caught up in their own characters and popularity – they were blinded by YouTube fame and again, upon reflection, made some very poor decisions," the blog post said.
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