The home of Machelle Hobson in Maricopa, Arizona., is shown on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Huisman, 48, who has a popular YouTube channel aimed at children, is faced with accusations that they used pepper spray to the discipline of her seven adopted children and locked them for days in a closet. (AP Photo/Terry Tang)
MARICOPA, Arizona. – A woman who works for a popular YouTube channel with children is faced with accusations that they used pepper spray to the discipline of her seven adopted children, and locked them for days in a closet in their house outside of Phoenix, authorities said Wednesday.
Machelle Hobson’s children had no food, water or access to a bathroom when they were sequestered in a closet, according to the police.
Officers went to the home last Wednesday, reported that children appeared malnourished and underweight. The Arizona Department of child Safety removed the seven children from the home the following day, and Hobson and her two adult sons were arrested on Friday.
The child of the security officials refused to answer questions about any previous contacts or complaints with respect to Hobson, citing confidentiality laws.
It was not immediately known how many children Hobson has than the adopted young people.
The police said the children described being disciplined if they did not perform the instructions for the channel, which has received millions of views 36 videos. The channel also covers Instagram and Facebook accounts.
The videos, which are still posted Wednesday afternoon, with simple, skits about such things as children stealing cookies, or a small boy with super powers.
YouTube said on Wednesday the channel has to make money of the option is suspended and can, depending on the outcome of the investigation.
Huisman, 48, is still being held Wednesday at a jail on suspicion of two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child molestation and five counts of unlawful confinement and child neglect.
Two adult sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney, were booked on suspicion of failure to report abuse of a minor. They were later released after posting bond.
It was not known as one of the three is represented by a lawyer.
In Maricopa, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Phoenix, the neighbors on the quiet, suburban street, where Hobson lived, were reeling from the news. Sarisa Fragua said that they rarely saw the woman or the children, because they moved in two years ago. They never played outside like other children in the neighborhood. They were usually only seen going from the car to the house.
Fragua did remember that the children are filming a video outside last summer. One of Hobson’s adult sons, was the leadership of the children on a path behind Fragua the backyard. The children, some of whom were in costume, appeared unhappy when the camera is not on them, ” she said.
“They would just stand. They do not want to be there. You could say that,” Fragua said. “It was just weird, but I don’t think anything of it.”
The son of the interactions with them were brief, but not offensive.
No one answered the door at the Hobson house, a house with two floors in a bedroom community of beige, stucco family houses. There were still cars in the driveway and unopened packages addressed to Hobson piled on the porch.
Billeaud reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed to this report.
This story has been changed to the correct Machelle Hobson name of Machelle Hackney.