Family YouTuber Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty to Four Charges of Felony Child Abuse

Formerly behind the popular 8 Passengers famiy YouTube channel, mother of six Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were charged with six counts of felony child abuse each.

Three months after she was arrested and charged in Utah, family YouTuber Ruby Franke has pleaded guilty to four of the six charges of felony child abuse levied against her.

The mother of six was charged alongside her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, who faced six felony child abuse charges of her own, in September after Franke’s 12-year-old son reportedly climbed out of a window at Hildebrandt’s home appearing “emaciated and malnourished.”

Ruby Franke's Husband Feels 'Manipulated and Deceived' By Wife and Her Partner After Child Abuse Arrest

According to the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safely Department, police were called by a citizen who reported the child had “open wounds and duct tape around the extremities” and was asking for both food and water.

“The condition of the juvenile was so severe that they were seen by Santa Clara-Ivins EMS and transported to a local area hospital,” said the release. Police then found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter in similar condition in Hildebrandt’s house.

Franke and Hildebrandt were subsequently arrested on August 30. Ultimately, four of Franke’s children were taken into custody.

According to The Associated Press, Franke made her pleas during a court appearance on Monday. For the fourth plea, she added the statement, “With my deepest regret and sorry for my family and my children, guilty.” She pleaded not guilty to the final two counts.

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As part of her plea agreement, Franke offered additional details regarding the abuse her youngest two children suffered, including trying to convince them they were possessed and deserved to be punished.

She said her son was tortured with hours of physical labor without adequate water from May 22 through her arrest, leading to “repeated and serious sunburns” that would blister. He was isolated, denied food, books, and electronics. After an escape attempt in July, Franke said his hands and feet were regularly restrained.

Franke described tying together handcuffs secured to his hands and feet as he lay on his stomach, raising his limbs off the ground and injuring wrists and ankles. She also admitted to kicking him with boots on, holding his head underwater and more, per the agreement, all the while telling him that these were “acts of love.”

The former social media star confessed to similar abuses on her daughter, who was forced to work outside, denied food and water, and told she was “evil and possessed,” with these punishments “necessary.” According to the agreement, the girl was “convinced” what her mother said was true.

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Presiding Judge John J. Walton accepted Franke’s plea agreement. Her case will now move to sentencing, which is set for February 20. According to the AP, Franke agreed to serve time in prison; sentences will run consecutively.

Each original count carried with it a sentence up to 15 years in prison, as well as a fine up to $10,000, according to a statement received by NBC News. Sentencing is up to Walton.

A more recent statement, dated December 15, by Franke’s law firm alleges that a lot of the abuse came as a result of Hildebrandt’s influence, per The AP, saying the relationship counselor led Franke to a “distorted sense of morality.”

Ruby Franke is a devoted mother and is also a woman committed to constant improvement,” said Winward Law in that statement, adding that Franke believed Hildebrandt offered insight to “a path of continual improvement,” but actually “took advantage” and “twisted it into something heinous.”

According to her plea agreement, Franke has “actively engaged in an introspection that has allowed her to reset her moral compass and understand the full weight of her actions.” Further, she “is committed to taking responsibility for the part she played in the events leading up to her incarceration.”

Ruby Franke's Husband Denies Abusing Children After Wife's Arrest, 'Distraught' at Allegations

As for Hildebrandt, The AP reports that she’s agreed not to see patients until the allegations are addressed by state licensing officials. Her next court hearing is set for December 27. Her attorney did not immediately respond to The AP’s request for comment on Franke’s allegations.

Upon Franke’s arrest, her oldest daughter Shari expressed that the family was “glad justice is being served,” saying that they’d “been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this.”

She added that her siblings were “safe,” but noted “there’s a long road ahead” for them.

Shari is one of Ruby and estranged husband Kevin Franke’s six children; they’re also parents to Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell and Eve. The family all appeared in videos on the 8 Passengers channel, which launched back in 2015, before it was shuttered earlier this year.

According to Insider, Franke’s parenting style was criticized by some viewers who felt it was abusive, while some of her comments were deemed offensive. After the 8 Passengers channel was deleted, she and Hildebrandt launched their ConneXions podcast, which also sparked criticism.

YouTuber Ruby Franke's Husband Releases Statement After Her Child Abuse Arrest

In a brief statement to Page Six after the arrest, attorney Randy S. Kester said that his client Kevin Franke’s “urgent focus is simply to keep his children together under his fatherly care.” He has filed for divorce, per The AP.

It’s unclear whether the two were still together at the time of Ruby’s arrest; she hasn’t posted anything with him to social media since February 2022, though the content on her page had shifted from family photos to promotional posts about her podcast with Hildebrandt.

Following Ruby’s arrest, her three sisters — who are influencers themselves and have more than two million YouTube subscribers between them — released a joint statement saying the arrest “needed to happen.”

“For the last 3 years we have kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children,” they wrote. “Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe.”

“Ruby was arrested which needed to happen,” they continued. “Jodi was arrested which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse or violence, get help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in need.

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