Last year, Michael and Heather Martin of Frederick County, Maryland, were passed down misdemeanor sentences for child neglect after the court found them guilty on the evidential basis of their videos uploaded to YouTube under the DaddyOFive account according to WUSA9. While the couple did not plead guilty directly to the charges, utilizing a court process known as the “Alford plea” wherein the defendant accepts punishment for the act and admits that there may be enough evidence to convict them of said charges, but denies having conducted the crime in question nonetheless.
The outcome meant that the couple lost custody of their two youngest children, who were removed from the home, and placed on probation in Maryland until 2022. The criteria of their probation specifically state that the younger children were not to be filmed whatsoever, although no such prohibition was laid upon the three elder children who still reside with Michael and Heather Martin in the family home.
Now, the couple has started a new YouTube channel featuring very similar pranks being played amongst family members titled FamilyOFive, and is attracting so much attention that even social media platform Reddit had to lock down a thread chronicling the content. The thread in r/videos rested at over 66,700 upvotes, a front-page worthy count, before being locked. The top comments iterate disgust with the older content as well as the new content, with user BendyBrew questioning how their new channel can even approach 300,000 subscribers on YouTube given the nature of the video content on offer.
“Dude basically runs a Roman Colosseum of child abuse with his own kids as gladiators and gets paid pretty well to do it,” wrote ChampionOfTheSunAhhh.
When asked for a comment on the matter by WUSA9, family matriarch Heather Martin replied to the media inquiry with the following prepared statement.
“We are ENTERTAINERS. We are real people, a real family. Some events may be staged/re-enacted/ or exaggerated for entertainment purposes. Our children will not be target of any pranks displayed on this channel, NOT even staged! And if they are home when we prank each other, or they prank us they will be fully aware of what is going on. Our children also have liaisons outside of our home to speak to about their participation in this family channel, even for normal family vlogs. No pranks will be done between Mike and I that could endanger their safety.”
Several prominent YouTubers such as Amanda the Jedi took to their platforms to speak out against the channel and the content being provided. Amanda the Jedi’s video takedown of the DaddyOFive and FamilyOFive channels has, as of this writing, attained over 300,000 views.
The local news channel also reached out to touch base with YouTube for a public comment on the matter but has not received a reply as yet, nor have their requests for comment from local law enforcement branches been met with success.
Michael and Heather Martin also run a gaming YouTube channel spinoff titled FamilyOFive Gaming. This channel focuses more exclusively on simple let’s play format videos or stream videos common to Twitch players, showing Michael or sons Jake and Ryan taking on Fortnite or Overwatch pick up games. Much less contentious than the primary channel and tapping into a vibrant market for this sort of video gaming content, it seems a wise move from the controversial YouTube personalities.
Whether or not the new channel FamilyOFive will remain on YouTube’s servers remains unclear, especially given the large groundswell of outrage building surrounding the matter. It is uncertain whether or not the alleged “staged” pranks will re-ignite a latent media outcry or further pursual of new charges or a breach of probation. Increased scrutiny of the Martin family is a surety, however, and one that will not go unnoticed by the YouTube community moving forward.