Utah YouTube Influencer Denied Bail in Child Abuse Case

A Utah mother-of-six and former YouTube parenting influencer, Ruby Franke, has been denied bail after being charged with multiple counts of child abuse. Franke, 41, and her business partner Jodi Nan Hildebrandt, 54, were arrested in Ivins, Utah, on August 30. The charges stem from the alleged abuse of two children through physical injuries, torture, starvation, malnutrition, and severe emotional harm.

Franke’s 12-year-old son sought help from a neighbor after climbing out of a window in Hildebrandt’s home. The boy asked for food and water, and the neighbor discovered him in a malnourished condition. Additionally, Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was found in a similarly malnourished state.

Each count of aggravated child abuse carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. During their virtual court appearance, Franke and Hildebrandt both wore orange striped uniforms. Technical difficulties arose due to the overwhelming number of viewers on the call. The next hearing for both suspects is scheduled for September 21.

Notably, Franke gained fame on YouTube in 2015 for her channel, 8 Passengers, which focused on parenting her children. The channel garnered over two million subscribers before it was deactivated earlier this year. Franke faced criticism in the past for her strict parenting methods, including punishing her son by making him sleep on a beanbag for several months and using meal withholding as a disciplinary measure.

The 911 call made by a neighbor who discovered Franke’s son “covered in wounds” was obtained by US media. The boy was found with duct tape on his ankles and wrists, indicating that he had been detained. Franke’s son attributed the abuse to his own fault. The injured children were taken to the hospital, and Franke’s underage children were removed from her custody.

Franke’s oldest daughter, Shari Franke, stated online that she is not in contact with her parents. Further details regarding Franke’s relocation to a medical block at the Purgatory Correctional Facility remain unclear.