YouTube Parenting Influencer Ruby Franke Sentenced to Prison for Child Abuse

A mother from Utah who gained notoriety on YouTube due to her strict parenting style has been sentenced to at least four years in jail for abusing her children.

Ruby Franke, 42, apologized in court while sobbing as she was informed of her outcome. She had already entered a guilty plea to maltreating and starving her kids.

She made her appearance alongside Jodi Hildebrandt, 54, her ex-business partner, who was given the same sentence.

YouTube Parenting Influencer Ruby Franke Sentenced to Prison for Child Abuse (1)

They were given four sentences ranging from one to fifteen years apiece by the judge.

The sentences are the maximum amounts allowed by Utah law for each count and will be served consecutively. The state parole board will eventually decide how much time each of them serves.

Franke has 30 days to file an appeal of the ruling.

Attorney Eric Clarke of Utah stated in court that Franke’s two children, who were eleven and nine years old at the time, lived in a “concentration camp-like setting” and referred to her as a serious threat to the community.

“The children were regularly denied food, water, beds to sleep in, and virtually all forms of entertainment,” added Clarke.

Franke broke down in tears in court after the verdict. Her words of apology to her kids were, “I was so disoriented that I believed dark was light and right was wrong.”

“I was led to believe that this world was an evil place, filled with cops who control, hospitals that injure, government agencies that brainwash, church leaders who lie and lust, husbands who refuse to protect and children who need abuse,” she stated.

After Franke’s undernourished 12-year-old son climbed out of a window at Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, Utah, in August of 2023, the two women were taken into custody.

The youngster then fled to a neighbor’s house, according to the police, and pleaded for food and drink. Police reports said he had lacerations from being tied up with rope.

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An extensive and contentious career on YouTube came to an end with the arrests. Since the beginning of 2015, Franke’s channel 8 Passengers has amassed over two million subscribers.

She told a local news station that filming with her family allowed her to “live in the present and just enjoy the kids” during a period when parenting vloggers were in high demand.

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In her movies, a normal Mormon suburban family was depicted cooking, dining, conversing, and homeschooling.

However, in 2020, when one of her boys revealed that he had been made to sleep on a bean bag for seven months, supporters began to grow suspicious.

As they went through her archives, YouTube users brought to light further unsettling and divisive practices employed by Franke, including depriving people of food, threatening to cut off the head of a plush animal, and “canceling” Christmas as a form of discipline.

Thousands of people signed a petition demanding an inquiry, and Utah’s child protection department was contacted, but, at the time, no legal action was taken.

At first, Franke and her spouse brushed off the criticism, claiming that many of their videos had been edited out of context.

However, the channel’s popularity started to wane, and it was taken down in 2022—the same year that Franke and her husband got divorced.

Franke then started to show up in life coach and counselor Ms. Hildebrandt’s YouTube videos on her website, ConneXions Classroom.

But far worse torture was being inflicted on Franke’s children away from the camera.

According to police records, this included tying them up, hitting and kicking them, forgetting to feed them, and making them labor outside in the summer without sunscreen, which led to severe sunburns.

In a plea deal, Hildebrandt said that she had forced one of Franke’s kids to “jump into a cactus multiple times” and that she had either tortured the children or knew they were being abused.

Franke declared to her kids that they must “repent” because they were “evil and possessed.”

Before the court, Kevin Franke, Franke’s ex-husband, requested through his attorney that the maximum penalty be applied and described the violence his children had endured as “horrific and inhumane.”

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