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How YouTube mum who shared parenting tips got caught abusing children as she’s handed maximum prison sentence

How YouTube mum who shared parenting tips got caught abusing children as she’s handed maximum prison sentence

The influencer was given the maximum prison sentence

Warning: This article contains discussion of child abuse which some readers may find distressing

Ruby Franke has been given the maximum prison sentence after being found guilty of abusing her children.

The YouTube-famous mum was convicted on Tuesday, 20 February, alongside business partner and mental health counsellor Jodi Hildebrandt.

Both mothers were sentenced to serve four terms of 1 to 15 years behind bars for each of the second-degree felony aggravated child abuse charges they admitted to.

This means they could serve up to 60 years in prison.

Franke and Hildebrandt were first arrested in August 2023 after one of Franke's children escaped her house and alerted a neighbour in Utah, US.

The former's downfall began in 2020, and it has resulted in her conviction four years, but how did this all unfold?

Starting a YouTube channel and initial suspicions

Franke started her parenting YouTube channel '8Passengers' with now ex-husband Kevin, amassing over 2.5 million subscribers before it was deleted in 2023 following the arrest.

Several subscribers became suspicious of child abuse, with a petition being signed for the police to investigate the family, citing the numerous questionable videos uploaded.

Examples of this include Ruby taking her son's bed away for pulling a prank, and not letting her six-year-old daughter eat lunch at school after she forgot to pack it as a lesson saying 'she's just going to need to be hungry', all while laughing.

Ruby Franke started her YouTube channel 8Passengers with her now ex-husband Kevin.

Franke joins ConneXions with Jodi Hildebrandt

The mum told critics in a 2021 interview for The Wrap that she was showing everyone 'what a responsible mother looks like'.

She stopped uploading videos to the channel in 2022, joining Mormon therapist Hildebrandt's ConneXions podcast.

Their divisive opinions on subjects such as eating disorders, blaming rape victims and criticising immigrants drew the wrong kind of attention.

The arrest

Local news outlet KUTV News reported that Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on child abuse charges in August last year.

The Santa Clara Public Safety Department were called to the Ivins neighbourhood in Utah after a neighbour was alerted by Franke's 'emaciated' 12-year-old son, who escaped to knock on their door to ask for help.

He had visible marks and wounds from duct tape put around his ankles, and asked for some food and water.

Police found his 10-year-old sister in a 'similar physical condition of malnourishment' in Hildebrandt's house.

Child protective services took the kids, along with their two teenage siblings.

The mum has been convicted of child abuse with the maximum prison sentence.

Family members speak out

Franke's oldest daughter, Shari, wrote on Instagram on the day of the arrests: “Today has been a big day."

The 20-year-old continued: "Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We've been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up."

Franke's sisters also came out in support of the arrest, posting on social media: “For the last 3 years we have kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children.

“Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe.”

They said that the kids' safety was the number one priority.

In November, Kevin also officially filed for divorce from Franke.

Franke and Hildebrandt are charged with six counts of child abuse

Just one week after their arrests, the pair were charged with six counts of felony child abuse.

In September, Hildebrandt's niece Jessi alleged in an interview with KUTV that she had undergone a similar treatment to her kids while she lived with her aunt for a year.

She detailed: “The things that I experienced while living with Jodi — I experienced being tied, I experienced being duct taped, I experienced being blindfolded, I experienced severe isolation, I experienced severe emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse."

YouTube banned Franke, deleting both 8Passengers and ConneXions channels and banning her from the social media platform.

Ruby Franke at her sentencing on Tuesday, 20 February.

Franke blames the abuse on Hildebrandt

It was reported that Franke initially blamed Hildebrandt for her 'influence' on the abuse of her children.

Her attorneys released a statement that said: “Initially, Ms. Franke believed that Jodi Hildebrandt had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement. Ms. Hildebrandt took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous," according to Fox13.

It blamed Hildebrandt solely for isolating Franke from her family completely, distorting her morality.

Franke pleads guilty

Just three days after the statement was released, Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse.

It was reported by The Salt Lake Tribune that Judge John J. Walton told Franke there 'won't be any argument' over whether she would spend time in prison.

“With my deepest regret, and sorrow for my family and my children — guilty,” Franke stated as she entered her final count

Ruby Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse.

Franke and Hildebrandt are sentenced to prison for child abuse

On 20 February, Franke was convicted and given four separate prison sentences for one to 15 years, with the length of each sentence up to Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.

Despite this, Franke will not serve more than 30 years in the Federal Penitentiary because of a Utah law about consecutive sentences, according to Business Insider.

According to reports, Hildebrandt was given the same sentence.

Upon receiving the sentence, Franke cried in court, apologising to her children: "I will never stop crying for hurting your tender souls."

Hildebrandt apologised and said she loved Franke's children at her sentencing: "I desire for them to heal physically and emotionally."

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 10am-8pm Monday to Friday. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111, 24/7.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/moms_of_truth

Topics: YouTube, Parenting, Mental Health, Crime