Skip to main content

Food Network's Worst Cooks In America Winner Ariel Robinson Found Guilty Of Homicide By Child Abuse

Ariel Robinson on Worst Cooks in America
(Image credit: Food Network)

After winning Season 20 of Worst Cooks in America in 2020, it seemed the season’s winner, teacher Ariel Robinson, was riding high off the TV success. But an unexpected development shocked both avid fans and casual viewers of the Food Network competition series, as Robinson was arrested in 2021 stemming from charges related to homicide by child abuse. Following a short trial, the former reality champ was found guilty of the charge.

As reported by Deadline, a jury found the Worst Cooks in America vet guilty of homicide after they deliberated for an hour on May 12, and she was thereafter sentenced to life in prison. The verdict came after a four-day trial during which Ariel Robinson, her husband Austin Robinson, and various medical professionals recounted the events that led to the couple's arrests.

In addition to Ariel Robinson being convicted of homicide by child abuse, her spouse Austin will face 10 to 20 years in jail after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting in relation to his wife’s charges. His sentencing will take place later.

The conviction stemmed from an incident involving the severe beating of the South Carolina teacher’s three-year-old foster daughter Victoria “Tori” Smith. According to reports, her husband claimed she whipped the young girl with a belt for not eating her pancakes quickly enough. Austin Robinson claimed the beating went on for an hour, and even though he was outside doing yard work at the time, he recalled hearing the Worst Cooks in America champ yelling and hitting the crying child, though he alleged he didn’t know she was using a belt until he reentered the home.

The bodycam footage is said to have showed the child lying unresponsive and covered in bruises on her bedroom floor. According to court reports, Ariel Robinson initially told first responders on the scene that Smith's visual injuries were due to her and her husband performing CPR on the young girl incorrectly. Then, Robinson allegedly shifted the blame toward her brother-in-law, claiming he would hit the girl with “anything that is around.” 

But it was testimonies from the Greenville County chief medical examiner and a pediatric ICU doctor that sealed the former teacher’s fate. The medical examiner claimed he found “a severe, deep injury that is tearing tissue from tissue” after performing an autopsy on the child. The pediatric doctor claimed the injuries inflicted on the young girl were “the worst” she had come across during her medical career.

Upon the charges hitting the news, Food Network pulled Season 20 of the reality competition series from all Discovery platforms, which will soon be merged with HBO Max. It is still currently unavailable for viewing on any platform.

For those aiming to watch the remaining seasons of Worst Cooks in America, an Amazon Prime Video subscription or a Hulu subscription are the ways to go. While you’re at it, you can catch the latest season of the cooking competition and other returning TV shows airing this spring and beyond.

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).