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Parenting YouTuber Ruby Franke pleads guilty to child abuse after starving two of her children

todayDecember 18, 2023 2

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Parenting YouTuber Ruby Franke pleads guilty to child abuse after starving two of her children

A US mother who used to give parenting advice to more than two million subscribers on YouTube has pleaded guilty to child abuse after starving two of her children.

Ruby Franke, a mother of six from Utah, has admitted four counts of aggravated child abuse.

She was arrested in August after her emaciated 12-year-old knocked on a neighbour’s door asking for food and water, showing signs that he had been restrained.

Her controversial YouTube channel, called 8 Passengers, had nearly 2.3 million subscribers and focused on parenting style and discipline.

Wearing grey and white prison clothing, Franke pleaded guilty to each of the first three charges individually in court today and on the fourth said: “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty.”

Judge John J. Walton accepted a plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for 20 February.

The agreement leaves the sentencing up to the judge and does not rule out prison time, Franke’s lawyer, LaMar Winward, acknowledged.

Franke was arrested on 30 August when her 12-year-old son escaped from her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt’s home after climbing out of a window, and asked a neighbour to call the police.

Franke’s lawyer said she was influenced by Hildebrandt, a relationship counsellor, who led her to “a distorted sense of morality”.

This image from video provided by the Utah State Courts shows Jodi Hildebrandt during a virtual court appearance, Friday, Sept. 8, 2023 in St. George, Utah. Jodi Hildebrandt, 54, and Ruby Franke were charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse after their arrests on Aug. 30 at Hildebrandt's house in the southern Utah city of IvinsJodi Hildebrandt, 54, were charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse after their arrests on Aug. 30 at Hildebrandt's house in the southern Utah city of Ivins (Utah State Courts via AP)

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Jodi Hildebrandt appears at a virtual court hearing. Pic: Utah State Courts via AP


A statement from her lawyer said Franke initially believed that Hildebrandt “had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement,” but added the counsellor “took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous”.

Hildebrandt “systematically isolated Ruby Franke from her extended family, older children, and her husband, Kevin Franke,” the statement added.

Hildebrandt, who was also arrested on 30 August, will not see patients until the allegations are addressed.

Her next court hearing is set for 27 December, according to court records.

Meanwhile, Kevin Franke has filed for divorce.

Read more:
Neighbours say they tried to warn child services
Sisters ‘did as much as we could’ to help kids

What led to Ruby Franke’s arrest?

Franke’s son was emaciated and had duct tape around his ankles and wrists when he escaped but wouldn’t say why, the 911 caller reported.

“I think he’s been… he’s been detained,” the caller said, his voice breaking up. “He’s obviously covered in wounds.”

The boy’s condition was judged by police to be so severe he was taken to hospital.

Ruby Franke. Pic: moms_of_truth/Instagram

Image:
Ruby Franke. Pic: moms_of_truth/Instagram

Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was later found at Hildebrandt’s house in a malnourished state and was also taken to hospital.

The children were found at Hildebrandt’s house, but Franke had been seen on a YouTube video filmed there and posted two days earlier, indicating she was at the home and had knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment and neglect, arrest records said.

Four of Franke’s children are under 18 and have now been placed in care.

YouTube viewers had been calling out Franke’s parenting style and discipline choices for several years before her arrest – with a video about her 6-year-old forgetting her school lunch facing a particular backlash.

In the video, Franke said she would not drop any food at school and her daughter should use the “pain” of being hungry as a lesson not to forget her lunch in future.

Written by: Newsroom

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