If you’ve followed the ongoing case of former YouTube star Ruby Franke, you may be wondering what’s next for the mother of 6 who gave parenting advice to millions but recently was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse, a felony crime.
Franke’s attorney said he expects his client to be incarcerated in Provo, Utah, “for the foreseeable future.” Upon her arrest on August 30, a judge denied bail due to “the severity of the injuries” found on 2 of her children.
According to KSL.com, Franke appeared virtually at a hearing on September 18 in the 4th District Juvenile Court in Provo, just hours before another hearing in St. George was scheduled in her criminal case. A document was filed in her case on that day, seeking to continue the hearing in that case until after October 5.
Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were both arrested on August 30, and on September 6, they were charged with 6 counts of aggravated child abuse by the Washington County Attorney’s Office in Utah.
According to CBS News, this came after police said one of Franke’s children escaped from Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, Utah, and asked a neighbor to contact them. Court documents say the child had been duct taped and was malnourished, and another of Franke’s children was also found to be malnourished.
Hildebrandt and Franke, 41, whose now-defunct 8 Passengers YouTube channel offered parenting advice gleaned from her family of 8, are accused of a combination of multiple physical injuries or torture; starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life; and causing severe emotional harm to 2 children.
What will be Ruby Franke’s punishment?
Franke and her business partner have a constitutional right to due process and to be considered innocent until proven guilty. But if they are convicted, the women each face a potential sentence of 1 to 15 years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000 for each count.
Their YouTube videos were posted by Hildebrandt’s counseling business, ConneXions Classroom, which Hildebrandt claims has helped people improve their lives, reported the Associated Press.
What happened to Ruby Franke’s children?
As for what happened to Franke’s children, a news release from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department said they received a call on August 30 about a child who appeared to be “emaciated and malnourished.” The child had “open wounds and duct tape around the extremities” and was asking for food and water.
According to the Washington Post, a responding officer observed “deep lacerations from being tied up with rope.”
That child was Franke’s 12-year-old son, who escaped via a window at Hildebrandt’s house and sought help at a neighbor’s house, according to an affidavit filed by an officer with the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.
“The condition of the juvenile was so severe that they were seen by Santa Clara-Ivins EMS and transported to a local area hospital,” the department said in its news release.
Upon searching Hildebrandt’s home, police found evidence “consistent with the markings on the juvenile” and also found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter in a similar malnourished state. They also took that child to a hospital.
Washington County Attorney Erik Clark said in a statement that the women are accused of “causing or permitting serious injury” to the 2 children in 3 different ways: “a combination of multiple physical injuries or torture, starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life, and causing severe emotional harm.”
Franke’s 4 other children were also located and were taken into the care of the Department of Child and Family Services, along with the 2 malnourished children. The minor children remain in child protective custody.
A lawyer for Kevin Franke, husband of Ruby Franke, told CBS News that he was representing Kevin Franke’s interests in keeping his children together and in his care. It is not clear if the couple was still together.
Several of Franke’s sisters and her estranged adult daughter, 20, indicated they welcomed the news of the arrests, having been aware that things were not right with the family and frustrated by the lack of action taken earlier by authorities.
Were viewers also concerned about Franke’s parenting?
Apparently, some of Franke’s 2 million subscribers to her now-shuttered YouTube channel had also raised concerns about her harsh approach to parenting, including withholding food from her children as a form of instruction or discipline.
That didn’t keep the subscriber channel from flourishing for a time during the 2010s.
Who is Ruby Franke?
As for who Ruby Franke is and how she achieved such prominence, she became a video blogger and “mental fitness trainer” to convey how she raised her family, who are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Launched in 2015, her YouTube channel, 8 Passengers, featured Franke, her husband (a former engineering professor at Utah’s Brigham Young University) and their 6 children.
Franke posted videos of the family as many as 5 times per week, discussing parenting strategies such as what books she let her kids read and sharing scenes from daily life.
But within such scenes were clues to the abuse that was later uncovered. When some videos showed Franke disciplining her children in harsh ways, concerned viewers sifted through all of 8 Passengers‘ content for evidence of any other abuse.
One highly criticized video showed Franke explaining why her daughter needed to go hungry in order to learn to pack her lunch. In another video, she threatened a child with losing the “privilege of eating dinner.”
In 2020, nearly 18,000 viewers signed a petition seeking an investigation. By 2021, Franke’s YouTube channel had ended and was removed.
How serious are crimes of child abuse?
As for how serious crimes can be when they involve child abuse, they can be very serious, especially under Texas law, and particularly when they involve a charge of child sexual abuse or child sexual assault.
For instance, aggravated sexual assault (involving violent injuries, weapons or multiple offenders) of a child under 6 years old can bring a minimum prison sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of 99 years, along with a fine of as much as $10,000.
If you or a family member in the Houston area faces such a claim, accusation, allegation or charge, notify the award-winning Neal Davis Law Firm at once to explore your options for a legal defense.
When does an accident become child abuse? Explore a real-life incident that led to legal consequences, shedding light on child abuse laws in Texas and Nebraska.