YouTube stars lose custody of children after controversial 'prank' videos

A father and stepmother, who posted controversial prank videos on YouTube, have lost custody of two of their children to their biological mother. 

Mike and Heather Martin of Maryland have faced fierce criticism for profanity-filled videos posted on the YouTube channel "DaddyOFive," which many said depicted abusive behavior toward their five children. In the videos, the couple played "pranks" on their children and encouraged them to beat each other up. Many of the videos focused on Cody, who was often left in tears after the couple's "pranks," which included convincing him he was being put up for adoption, and smashing his electronics. 

Emma and Cody's mother, Rose Hall, said in a YouTube video published Monday that she was granted "emergency custody" of her children. 

"They're doing good," she said in a YouTube video with her lawyer Tim Conlon. "They're getting back to their playful selves." 

Hall thanked the YouTube community for shedding light on the abuse and calling for action. 

On Youtube, many concerned vloggers uploaded videos poring over details of what many believe was verbally and physically abusive behavior toward Cody and his 12-year-old sister, Emma, in the DaddyOFive videos.

A Change.org petition was created calling for Child Protective Services to take action against the family. 

The Martins have since deleted all of the videos on their YouTube channel, except for an apology.

Hall said watching the abuse on YouTube was a horrifying experience. 

"Very heartbreaking and disturbing to see my kids being abused," Hall said, wiping away tears. 

Hall, who lives in North Carolina, said Cody told her that his father and stepmother said he was "thrown away like garbage" and that his mother did not want him anymore. She said the children will go through extensive therapy. 

The Martins appeared on Good Morning America last week and said that police were investigating child abuse allegations. 

Mike Martin said that much of the content was staged, but some of it was real. 

"Because of my poor decisions, now my family's suffering," Mike Martin said. "I was able to do so many things for my family because of this YouTube channel. We were able to give the kids a college fund ... [But] I ended up destroying my family thinking that I was helping my family."

Follow Mary Bowerman on Twitter: @MaryBowerman

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