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'Youtube Mom' sons charged with sex abuse after delayed police referral

Posted at 6:16 PM, May 15, 2023

MESA, AZ — The biological sons of ‘Youtube Mom’ have been charged with child sex crimes in Maricopa County.

The arrests and felony charges came after ABC15 started asking questions about why victim disclosures were never relayed by the Maricopa Police Department in Pinal County.

‘Youtube Mom’

The case horrified the Valley and the country.

Police say Machelle Hobson forced her seven fostered, then adopted, children to perform in lucrative online videos, while she starved, beat, and pepper sprayed them behind locked doors.

In a 2021 investigation, ABC15 exposed how DCS and police repeatedly failed to listen to cries for help and rescue the children from the home, despite more than a dozen prior reports of abuse and neglect.

When Machelle Hobson was arrested for multiple counts of child abuse, her adult biological sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney, were also booked into jail for failing to report the abuse.

But the brothers, who played a major role in producing the Youtube videos, quickly had their Pinal County charges dropped.

The New Charges

Four years later, both Logan and Ryan are facing multiple counts of ‘sexual abuse of a minor’ for crimes allegedly committed in Mesa.

Logan Hackey is charged with four counts of child sex crimes, three of the charges are level-two felonies. Ryan is charged with two level-two felonies.

It is possible the arrests could have happened sooner, but Maricopa police admitted in an internal investigation they “did not send information about a crime to the Mesa Police Department in a timely manner.”

“Not timely”

The department did eventually forward the ‘case file and information surrounding the Mesa allegations’, but only after ABC15 discovered the allegations and started inquiring with Mesa PD about why the brothers were not facing criminal charges.

In the internal investigation, Maricopa PD wrote that our ‘media inquiry raised concerns that the information…may not have been relayed.’

In fact, then-Maricopa Police Chief James Hughes responded to ABC15's emailed questions on May 16, 2021, writing: I would be asking many of the same question [sic] you did.  Mesa should have conducted a separate investigation using that field interview as a starting point.

The department’s internal investigation, however, stated the case was finally made to Mesa on May 21, 2021.

The commander concluded the case submittal did not happen “until after this issue was raised by a 3rd party.”

He went on to write the referral was “not timely but well within the seven-year statute of limitations for any child abuse charges and no statute of limitations for child molestations.”

It's important that law enforcement, when they receive information from a child about sexual abuse, that they follow up on it,” said Robert Pastor, a Valley attorney and former Maricopa County Attorney's Office prosecutor who specializes in child abuse. “The adults who were there to protect them failed in their responsibility.”

The Maricopa PD lieutenant made policy changes following the mistakes, including ‘mandated routing whiteboard sessions where case management and assignments are discussed and documented” and “a case closure form.”

More Victims

When Maricopa PD finally passed on the abuse disclosures, more than two years later, Mesa sex crimes detectives discovered two more victims.

All of the victims were hesitant to speak up with one telling detectives ‘justice does not get served.’

“One of the things that I found in reviewing some of the material in this case is that you've gotten multiple victims, telling the same story,” said Pastor, who read the Mesa police reports. “What survivors of abuse and every prosecutor knows - and every law enforcement should know - is that one survivor story may corroborate another survivor's story.”

When a Mesa forensic interviewer asked one victim what should happen to Logan, the person responded, “Logan needs to pay for what he has done and go to jail.”

In February of 2023, after Mesa PD did a months-long investigation, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office got a grand jury to indict the brothers on their current charges. The warrants took weeks to execute, but Ryan was arrested in mid-March and Logan in late April.

The Cases in Pinal

While the story of ‘Youtube Mom’ and the allegations of sexual abuse all originated in Pinal County, the attorney’s office there does not have any active cases.

Machelle Hobson died of natural causes months after her arrest, in November 2019, before she ever stood trial.

Meanwhile, Maricopa PD did extensive investigations into the alleged sex abuse in their jurisdiction, which involved multiple potential victims.

The department submitted cases to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office three separate times, most recently in September 2022.

In each case, PCAO declined to prosecute citing no reasonable likelihood of conviction. However, as the office said in a letter declining to file charges, “Cases can always be revisited if additional evidence is submitted.”