Former YouTube family vlogger Ruby Franke sentenced in child abuse case

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On Tuesday, former YouTube family vlogger Ruby Franke was sentenced to four, one-to-15 year terms in prison by an Utah district court in the child abuse case brought against her. Franke’s business partner Jodi Hildebrandt was also sentenced to four, one-to-15 year prison terms. Both women will serve their sentences consecutively.

Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested in August 2023 after police found one of Franke’s sons emaciated with open wounds and bound with duct tape, having escaped Hildebrandt’s home to a neighbor’s house, as well as one of Franke’s daughters was found in a similar malnourished condition in Hildebrandt’s home. After being charged with six counts of felony child abuse, Franke and Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse in December. Franke previously agreed to testify against Hildebrandt in exchange for the county attorney’s neutrality in future hearings with the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.

During the sentencing hearing, Franke teared up while apologizing to her kids, saying in part: “I … believed dark was light and right was wrong. I would do anything in this world for you. I took from you all that was soft, and safe and good.” The mother of six also addressed Judge John Walton and the courtroom: “For the past four years, I’ve chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion. My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me.” 

Hildebrandt also gave a brief statement to the court on Tuesday: “I desire for [the children] to heal physically and emotionally. One of the reasons I did not go to trial is because I did not want them to emotionally relive the experience which would have been detrimental to them. My hope and prayer is that they will heal and move forward to have beautiful lives.”

Franke, her husband, Kevin Franke, and their six children rose to prominence on YouTube, where they had amassed 2.3 million subscribers to their now-defunct channel 8 Passengers. Franke also frequently collaborated on controversial parenting and relationship advice videos with Hildebrandt.

According to Utah law, the maximum aggregate sentence for consecutive terms is 30 years. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will determine how long Franke and Hildebrandt will spend incarcerated.

Editorial credit: rafastockbr /