This booking photo provided by Pinal County Sheriff’s Office shows Machelle Hackney. Authorities say, Tuesday, March 19, 2019, Hackney is accused of abusing seven adopted children, including using pepper spray on them and locking them in a closet. Hackney was booked into the Pinal County Jail on suspicion of two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child abuse and five counts each of unlawful imprisonment and child neglect. (Pinal County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Mom with kids on YouTube channel suspected of child abuse

March 20, 2019 - 3:40 pm
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MARICOPA, Ariz. (AP) — A woman who operates a popular YouTube channel aimed at kids is facing allegations she used pepper spray to discipline her seven adopted children, and locked them for days inside a closet in their home outside Phoenix, authorities said Wednesday.

Two of her adult sons also were arrested on suspicion of failing to report the alleged abuse.

A police report said Machelle Hackney's adopted children had no food, water or access to a bathroom for days while inside the closet at her home in the small city of Maricopa.

It said officers who went to the house last week reported that six of the children appeared malnourished and underweight. It was not immediately known how many children Hackney has.

The police report said the children reported being disciplined if they did not perform as instructed for the channel, which has received millions of views. The channel also has related Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The videos feature simple skits about such things as children stealing cookies or a little boy with super powers.

An email message seeking comment from the San Bruno, California, press office at Google, which controls the video-sharing YouTube website, was not immediately answered Wednesday afternoon.

Hackney, 48, was still being held Wednesday at a county jail on suspicion of two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child abuse and five counts of unlawful imprisonment and child neglect.

Two adult sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney, were booked on suspicion of failing to report abuse of a minor. They were later released after paying bond.

It was unknown if any of the three is represented by a lawyer.