Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt Face 30-Year Sentence for Child Abuse Conviction

Parenting YouTuber Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to child abuse charges stemming from one of Franke’s children fleeing Hildebrandt’s residence in August to beg a neighbor for help.

Following the hearing, the prosecutor stated that everyone might face up to 30 years in prison, the most severe penalty permitted under Utah law.

According to CBS News station KUTV, Franke has been sentenced to four consecutive jail terms, each of which may last one to fifteen years. According to KUTV, prison time will be determined by the Utah Board of Pardons and Paroles. Franke has thirty days to appeal the ruling.

According to KUTV, Hildebrandt received the same penalty of four consecutive prison periods, each of which may last one to fifteen years. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will determine Hildebrandt’s jail sentence, just as it did for Franke.

Franke, who provided parenting advice on her now-defunct “8 Passengers” YouTube channel, and Hildebrandt, who ran a counseling company called ConneXions Classroom, were both first charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree crime.

Each count may result in one to 15 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. While reading the sentencing recommendation, state prosecutor Eric Clarke compared Franke’s children’s situation to a “concentration camp-like setting,” claiming that Franke “committed horrible acts of child abuse.”

Clarke described Hildebrandt as a “significant threat” to the community in response to her charges. Both women addressed the court prior to their sentencing, with Hildebrandt stating that she would “submit to what the state feels is an appropriate amount of time served.”

Franke said that she and Hildebrandt “inflicted the injuries” on her children. She said that she was “led to believe that this world is an evil place” and that Hildebrandt was never her “business responsibility,” but that she had paid the other woman to be her mentor.

Franke also thanked the public safety professionals who rescued her children, referring to them as “angels,” according to KUTV. “My charges are just,” Franke explained. “They offer safety to my family, accountability to the public.”

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What Did Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt Do?

In December, Franke pled guilty to four counts of child abuse and admitted to torturing her children, including the now 12-year-old kid who escaped Hildebrandt’s house.

In the plea deal, which included graphic accounts of abuse, Franke stated that her son was frequently shackled and that her nine-year-old daughter was forced to perform physical labor outside in the blazing sun with no water or shoes. Both youngsters were repeatedly taught that they were possessed and that their punishments were essential to help them.

According to court documents acquired by KUTV, the kid told officials that Hildebrandt tied him up and treated wounds caused by the restraints with homemade treatments.

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt Face 30-Year Sentence for Child Abuse Conviction (1)

As part of her plea agreement, Franke consented to serve a prison sentence and that her sentences would run consecutively. She also consented to testify against Hildebrandt.

Only days after Franke, Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to four counts of child abuse. Her plea deal said that she either tortured the children or was aware of their mistreatment. According to the agreement, Hildebrandt “either physically forced or coerced” Franke’s daughter to “jump into a cactus multiple times.”

Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke stated that the crimes were motivated by their religious faith.

“This is a case about religious extremism. The defendants appear to have fully believed that the abuse they inflicted was necessary to teach the children how to properly repent for imagined ‘sins’ and to cast the evil spirits out of their bodies,” Clarke added. “Hildebrandt regularly stated that God communicated directly with her and gave her directions. Franke accepted Hildebrandt as her leader and followed her instructions and guidance.” 

Where is Ruby Franke’s Family Today?

Even before the criminal allegations, Franke was chastised on YouTube for her harsh punishments of her children, including once banning one of them from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his younger brother. The YouTube channel, which debuted in 2015, was discontinued after seven years.

Kevin Franke, Franke’s husband, has filed for divorce. A representative for Kevin Franke told CBS News at the beginning of September that he could not comment on Ruby Franke’s arrest but rather was defending his client’s rights to keep his children with him.

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Kevin Franke appeared in court on Friday, accompanying his two eldest children. Franke apologized to her ex-husband while speaking on the witness stand. “You are the love of my life,” she declared, according to KUTV. “The ending of our marriage is a tragedy.”

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Franke’s parents and brother both filed statements in court prior to her sentencing on Tuesday, blaming Hildebrandt’s influence for her acts. Beau Griffiths, Franke’s brother, confirmed that he was also enrolled in Hildebrandt’s ConneXions program.

“At the continued encouragement of Ms. Hildebrandt, Ruby systematically pushed those around her away, first myself, and then our sisters, parents, and close friends, and then her husband, and finally her own children,” Griffiths said. “Ruby has clearly been brainwashed. She has been taken advantage of by Ms. Hildebrandt.” 

Franke’s sisters, Julie Griffiths Deru and Bonnie Hoellein, both YouTubers, posted videos explaining Franke’s estrangement from the family and claiming that they were unaware of her conduct.

Franke’s parents, Chad and Jennifer Griffiths, stated in court that for three years, they only had “brief communications” with their daughter, during which she “accused us of either things that never happen or she grossly exaggerated the events that did.” 

“She was delusional,” they claimed, according to KUTV. “She was so deeply brainwashed we could not recognize her.”

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