Parenting advice YouTuber and influencer Ruby Franke jailed for abusing her children

20 February 2024, 21:36

Ruby Franke will serve up to 60 years in prison
Ruby Franke will serve up to 60 years in prison. Picture: Alamy/Social Media
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Parenting advice YouTuber Ruby Franke will serve up to 60 years in prison for physically and emotionally abusing her children.

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Franke, 42, who built up a huge YouTube following for her harsh parenting style, had already pleaded guilty to starving and abusing her children.

Jodi Hildebrandt, 54, received an identical sentence as they appeared in court on Tuesday.

Both Franke and Hildrebrandt will serve four terms of one to 15 years each. How long they serve, respectively, will be determined by Utah's parole board.

Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in St. George, Utah
Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in St. George, Utah. Picture: Alamy

In court on Tuesday, Utah prosecutor Eric Clarke said two of Franke's children had been living in a "concentration camp-like setting", labelling her a "significant threat" to the local area.

"The children were regularly denied food, water, beds to sleep in, and virtually all forms of entertainment," Mr Clarke told the court.

Read More: Disgraced family YouTuber Ruby Franke tortured children by starving and shackling them, court documents reveal

Read More: YouTuber Ruby Franke apologises at sentencing in child abuse case

Franke apologised to her children, who were not present in court, and said she would not appeal the judge's sentencing.

"I'll never stop crying for hurting your tender souls," Franke said to her children.

"My willingness to sacrifice all for you was masterfully manipulated into something very ugly. I took from you all that was soft and safe and good."

Ruby Franke during a hearing Monday, Dec. 18, 2023
Ruby Franke during a hearing Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. Picture: Alamy

Franke and her husband, Kevin Franke, launched 8 Passengers on YouTube in 2015 and amassed a large following as they documented their experiences raising six children.

She later began working with Hildebrandt's counselling company, ConneXions Classroom, offering parenting seminars, launching another YouTube channel and publishing content on their shared Instagram account, Moms of Truth.

Franke admitted in her plea deal to kicking her son while wearing boots, holding his head under water and closing off his mouth and nose with her hands.

She and Hildebrandt said they also forced him into hours of physical labour in the summer heat without much food or water, causing dehydration and blistering sunburns.

The boy was told that everything being done to him was an act of love, according to the plea agreements.

Hildebrandt has also admitted to coercing Franke's youngest daughter, who was nine at the time, to jump into a cactus multiple times and run barefoot on dirt roads until her feet blistered.

The boy and girl were taken to hospital after the arrests and placed in state custody along with two more of their siblings. Prior to her 2023 arrest, Ruby Franke was already a divisive figure in the parent vlogging world.

The Franke parents were criticised online for certain parenting decisions, including for banning their oldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his younger brother.

In other videos, Ruby Franke talked about refusing to take lunch to a kindergartener who forgot it at home and threatening to cut the head off a young girl's stuffed toy to punish her for cutting things in the house.

The 8 Passengers YouTube channel has since ended, and Kevin Franke has filed for divorce.

Both Franke and Hildebrandt have 30 days to appeal against their sentences.

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