The couple responsible for the YouTube channel "DaddyOFive" was sentenced to five years of probation on Monday after being found guilty of child neglect.
Mike and Heather Martin entered "Alford pleas" to two counts of child neglect. The pleas allow them to maintain their innocence while acknowledging the evidence.
They made headlines earlier this year when videos of them pranking their children went viral and many began to accuse the couple of child abuse.
please go report daddyofive on YouTube, he's physically and mentally abusing his children for money/views pic.twitter.com/b5crIcauuj— h (@chandlerspidey) April 19, 2017
One notable video, "INVISIBLE INK PRANK (EPIC FREAKOUT)" showed the pair swearing at their children, especially their youngest, Cody, 9, and accusing him of spilling ink to the point where the boy broke down into tears. Another video showed Cody bleeding after Mike pushed him into a bookshelf, according to BuzzFeed.
After the backlash, the couple deleted most of their videos and posted a new one apologizing. That video has also been deleted but others have reuploaded the content.
"We realize that we have made some terrible parenting decisions," Heather said in the video. "We wanted our kids to be happy, and we went about it the wrong way."
Cody, and Emma, 11, were placed with their biological mother while investigations were carried out, Cosmopolitan reported.
All five of the couple's children, Mike's two biological children, and Heather's three biological children underwent psychological evaluations.
We're in a new era with social media. They have to learn the things that are appropriate and not appropriate, particularly with children.
The investigation focused on Cody and Emma. Prosecutors said the kids experienced "substantial impairments of their mental or psychological ability to function.'' The other three children's evaluations revealed that they had not experienced similar trauma.
Stephen Tully was the lawyer for both parents and told WTOP his clients were relieved by the sentencing.
"We're in a new era with social media," he said. "They have to learn the things that are appropriate and not appropriate, particularly with children."
Lindy Angel, the Frederick County Assistant State's Attorney, told BuzzFeed that while she thought the sentence was in the best interest of the children, the couple's psychological evaluations showed that they had experienced "an extreme lapse in judgement" but had not sought to harm their children on purpose.
It was insensitive, cruel, bad decision-making. But there was no real intention behind it.
"It was insensitive, cruel, bad decision-making," Angel said. "But there was no real intention behind it."
The probation prevents the Martins from contacting Cody, Emma and their biological mother unless permitted by a court. They are also prohibited from posting photos and videos of the kids on social media.
With files from the Associated Press via CP.
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