Utah mother of Six, YouTuber Ruby Franke, pleads guilty in child abuse case
YouTuber Ruby Franke, pleads guilty in child abuse case
On Monday, Ruby Franke, a mother of six from Utah known for offering parenting advice on YouTube, entered a guilty plea to child abuse charges. Franke, who stood in jail attire, acknowledged her guilt in attempting to convince her two youngest children that they were evil, possessed, and needed punishment for repentance.
In a courtroom scene where Franke closed her eyes and took a deep breath, she pleaded guilty to the first three charges and, with visible emotion, expressed regret and sorrow for her family on the fourth charge. The sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20, following the acceptance of the plea agreement by Judge John J. Walton. The agreement outlined new details of the abuse, including the disturbing assertion that the children were believed to be possessed. Franke has agreed to a prison term under this agreement, with the sentences to be served consecutively, and the judge will determine the sentencing specifics.
Franke entered a not guilty plea to two other counts, as indicated by court records, and was remanded to custody after the hearing. Under Utah law, Franke could face second-degree aggravated child abuse charges, punishable by one to 15 years in prison for knowingly or intentionally causing serious physical injury to a child or permitting another to inflict such harm.
Winward Law Statement
Winward Law said in a statement Friday that the abuse occurred while Franke was influenced by a relationship counselor who led her to “a distorted sense of morality.”
“Ruby Franke is a devoted mother and is also a woman committed to constant improvement,” Winward Law said in a statement. Franke initially believed that her co-defendant Jodi Hildebrandt “had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement,” but said that Hildebrandt “took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous.”
In the plea agreement, Franke concedes to subjecting her son to torment from May 22 to Aug. 30. This included compelling him into prolonged physical tasks, outdoor work without sufficient water under the sun resulting in “repeated and serious sunburns” leading to blistering. He faced food deprivation or received plain meals, along with isolation from others without access to books, notebooks, or electronics.
Following an attempted escape in July, the boy’s hands and feet were frequently bound, at times with handcuffs. Ropes were also employed, connecting handcuffs securing his limbs while lying on his stomach, causing injuries to his wrists and ankles.
Franke also admitted to kicking her son while wearing boots, submerging his head in water, and covering his mouth and nose with her hands, all described in the plea agreement as acts of love. Similarly, Franke acknowledged mistreating her 9-year-old daughter, subjecting her to outdoor labor, running on dirt roads barefoot, and withholding food and water. The daughter was repeatedly told she was evil and possessed, with punishments deemed necessary for obedience and repentance.
Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on Aug. 30 after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped and sought help from a neighbor, leading to a 911 call released by the St. George Police Department. The boy, emaciated and bound with duct tape, did not disclose the reasons for his condition.
Franke and Hildebrandt faced six felony counts of aggravated child abuse and have remained in custody since their arrests. Franke’s statement mentions her commitment to accepting responsibility for her actions, citing her introspection during incarceration.
The Franke family faced online criticism for their “8 Passengers” video blog, which showcased controversial parenting decisions. The YouTube channel, initiated in 2015, ceased after seven years. Franke’s husband, Kevin Franke, has filed for divorce.
Source: AP News