Two Frederick County, Maryland, parents, whose videos showed them pulling pranks on their children, pleaded guilty to child neglect, according to the state’s attorney for Frederick County.
Michael and Heather Martin, both 34, of Ijamsville, Maryland, entered Alford pleas to two charged of child neglect. An Alford plea is a guilty plea in criminal court, where a defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence.
The two were charged after authorities were alerted to a number of YouTube videos that showed their children being “berated and ridiculed.” The state’s attorney office said psychological examinations of the children showed mental injury.
Judge Theresa Adams sentenced each to 10 years in prison but suspended those sentences. Michael and Heather Martin will serve 5 years of supervised probation.
They face restriction on videotaping the children and posting any images on social media.
People who saw the videos complained, and the couple took down all the videos except one, where the parents apologized for their actions.
“We realize that we have made some terrible parenting decisions,” Heather Martin said in the apology video.
Tim Conlon, an attorney from Frederick, Maryland, went to court and got an order for the biological mother, who lives in North Carolina, to have temporary custody of the children. He said the children have suffered mental abuse as well as physical abuse.
“Clear evidence of physical abuse is the video where you can see an arm throwing the boy Cody into a book case and then he comes away with a bloody nose, then they follow him into the bathroom while his nose bleeds. He's tearful and inconsolable.” Conlon said. “The kids are going to be deprogrammed like POWs or cult members. There are 400 videos of this stuff that involve vulgarity, shouting, physical portions of it.”
The parents previously said they were ashamed, but critics had the wrong impression of them.