Ruby Franke child abuse case a win for Utah prosecutors – Here’s why
The plea deal, accepted in Washington County, Utah, involves Franke testifying against her former business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt.
Franke, known for her popular yet now-removed YouTube channel 8 Passengers, was initially charged in September 2023 with six counts of felony child abuse.
The charges came to light after one of Franke’s children was found with open wounds after escaping from Hildebrandt’s home, and another was discovered in a similarly malnourished condition.
The court proceeding on Monday, 18 December 2023, saw Franke express her deepest regret and sorrow for her actions, acknowledging her guilt in a voice shaking with emotion.
“With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty,” she said.
Sentencing is scheduled for 20 February 2024.
Since her arrest, Franke has been held without bail and is reportedly focusing on personal growth and rehabilitation. Her lawyers, Winward Law, released a statement after the court appearance, revealing that Franke aims to apologise, reconcile with her family members, and work on amending the harm caused.
“Ruby Franke is a devoted mother and is also a woman committed to constant improvement,” the firm said.
Prosecutors eye Hildebrandt for his alleged role in sordid abuse
Franke’s collaboration with Hildebrandt for the latter’s life coaching service, ConneXions, has been a point of contention.
According to reports, ConneXions faced criticism for extreme teachings that pathologised clients’ behaviours as evidence of various addictions, encouraging a disconnection from those not adhering to its principles.
Franke’s lawyers claimed that Hildebrandt systematically isolated Franke from her family, leading to a distorted sense of morality under Hildebrandt’s influence.
Kevin Franke, Ruby’s husband, filed for divorce in November 2023 after a 13-month separation, as advised by Ruby and Hildebrandt.
According to his attorney, Randy Kester, Kevin was against the separation and wanted to resolve family concerns together. Ruby Franke’s legal team stated she is devastated by the divorce but understands and respects Kevin’s decision and is fully cooperating to reunite their children with him.
Prior to her arrest, Franke faced scrutiny over her parenting vlogs, with allegations of abuse from viewers.
Her channel documented the upbringing of her six children in Utah, including their home-schooling. There were earlier concerns raised in June 2020 after a petition called for an investigation into Franke’s parenting practices.
In a statement, Franke’s legal team emphasised her devotion as a mother, stating that she was unfortunately led astray under the influence of Hildebrandt.