In a shocking turn of events, Ruby Franke, a popular Utah mother of six known for sharing parenting advice on YouTube, pleaded guilty on Monday to child abuse charges. The charges stem from her disturbing attempts to convince her two youngest children that they were evil, possessed, and needed punishment to repent.
In a courtroom scene filled with tension, Ruby Franke, clad in gray and white jail clothing, closed her eyes and took a deep breath before admitting guilt to the first three charges. Her voice trembled with emotion as she expressed remorse for her actions, stating, “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty.” The plea agreement was accepted by Judge John J. Walton, who scheduled sentencing for February 20. The agreement outlined harrowing details of the abuse, including the children being told they were possessed.
Ruby Franke’s plea, however, did not extend to two other counts, and she was returned to custody after the hearing. According to court records, Franke initially sought guidance from relationship counselor Jodi Hildebrandt, who allegedly led her down a path of distorted morality.
In a statement, Winward Law, representing Franke, pointed out that the abuse occurred under the influence of Hildebrandt, who took advantage of Franke’s quest for self-improvement. The plea agreement revealed that Franke subjected her son to physical tasks, outdoor work without adequate water, repeated sunburns, and isolation, all under the guise of repentance. Her son’s attempts to escape led to him being bound, sometimes with handcuffs, and subjected to various forms of physical abuse.
Ruby Franke also admitted to similar abuse against her 9-year-old daughter, who was made to work outdoors, run barefoot on dirt roads, and endure food and water deprivation. Both children were convinced they were evil and possessed, with Franke claiming the punishments were acts of love.
The abuse came to light on August 30 when Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped from Hildebrandt’s house and sought help from a neighbor. The boy, emaciated and covered in wounds with duct tape around his ankles and wrists, prompted a 911 call that led to the arrests of Franke and Hildebrandt.
Incarcerated since then, Ruby Franke has undergone introspection, attempting to reset her moral compass and fully comprehend the gravity of her actions, according to Winward Law. The plea agreement also shed light on Hildebrandt’s involvement, indicating that she had used ropes on the boy’s ankles and wrists, treating the resulting wounds with cayenne pepper and honey.
The Franke family, previously known for their YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” faced online criticism for controversial parenting decisions showcased in their vlogs. The channel, which started in 2015, came to an abrupt end after seven years. In one video,Ruby Franke disclosed refusing to take lunch to a forgetful kindergartener and threatening to cut the head off a girl’s stuffed toy as punishment. The family’s parenting decisions, including banning their oldest son from his room for seven months, drew negative attention.
In the wake of these revelations, Kevin Franke, Ruby’s husband, has filed for divorce. As the legal proceedings continue, the future of the Franke family remains uncertain, leaving followers and the public grappling with the disturbing reality behind the once-beloved YouTube mom’s family vlogs.