The Ijamsville couple behind controversial internet prank videos that caused an uproar when critics decried the content as child abuse received five years of probation Monday.
Mike and Heather Martin, who posted more than 300 videos under the name “DaddyOFive” on YouTube, entered Alford pleas to two counts each of child neglect in Frederick County Circuit Court. This plea does not admit wrongdoing but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to secure a conviction.
Frederick County sheriff’s deputies investigated the couple in the wake of concerns that the videos depicted the abuse of their children Cody and Emma. Assistant State’s Attorney Lindell Angel called attention to two particular videos in which the parents berate Cody after falsely accusing him of damaging his room, and another in which Cody was falsely told he was going to live elsewhere.
In both cases, the boy, 9 years old at the time, became extremely distraught. A psychologist found that both Emma and Cody were negatively impacted by the treatment captured on the video and shared online as a prank, Angel said.
If the Martins were to violate their probation, they could face a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison.
Judge Theresa M. Adams ordered that the couple post no images of Emma or Cody on social media except for “family purposes.”
They also may have no contact with Emma, Cody or the children’s biological mother, Rose Hall, unless authorized by the court. There is pending civil litigation between Hall and the Martins; however more information was not available in county public records. When asked for details, Hall’s attorney, Tim Conlon, said he could not discuss the case.
Conlon did say his client would have liked to see the Martins get jail time, and she hoped they got the message to take down their videos. The couple continues to post prank videos on the “MommyOFive” channel, but they do not feature any of their children.
The Martins did not speak at the sentencing, apart from responding to questions. They have posted videos apologizing for the content, however, and explaining that their children would get excited about how many views they would get. They escalated the “shock factor” to get more views, they said.