FLORENCE — The Maricopa mother who profited off a YouTube channel starring her adoptive children has been found financially indigent by a Pinal County judge and was granted a lawyer to defend her against child abuse allegations.
Machelle Hobson, 47, was arrested last month after her children accused her of beating and imprisoning them for not performing well in YouTube videos the family shot in their Maricopa home. The Pinal County Attorney’s Office said it reviewed evidence to suggest Hobson was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars before the Maricopa Police Department took her into custody.
PCAO froze the defendant’s bank accounts in order to preserve funds that potentially could be used as restitution for the alleged victims. As a result, Hobson claimed she did not have any financial assets that could pay for a defense attorney.
On Friday, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Delia Neal appointed a lawyer to represent the defendant.
Richard Scherb, the court-appointed attorney, told the court his client objects to having her bank accounts frozen and would like access to her assets so she can post bail and retain private counsel.
YouTube deactivated Hobson’s account of popular adventure videos quickly after the abuse allegations went public. Her children claim Hobson would starve and beat them if they didn’t memorize their lines or perform well in the videos, court documents show.
The children were removed from the home and placed in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
The parties further discussed whether either side might have a conflict that would require another office to work the case, which involves 30 felony counts of kidnapping and child abuse.
Because Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer worked as a private attorney before he was elected in 2016, his office had to check to see whether he worked on any family law cases that could have involved Hobson or the children. The prosecutors said on Friday no conflicts had been detected.
Scherb said there are still 25 foster children who lived with Hobson at one point that might present a conflict to the parties. Judge Neal asked both sides to continue checking to see whether they had any prior involvement with anyone attached to the case.
Hobson remains detained in the Pinal County jail and will next appear in court on May 1.