Ruby Franke, a 41-year-old YouTuber who touted controversially strict parenting advice, now faces six felony charges of aggravated child abuse. Franke’s podcasting partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, age 54, also faces six charges, said the Washington County Attorney’s Office in Utah. The charges relate to two of Franke’s six children.
“Each defendant [Franke and Hildebrandt] is accused of causing or permitting serious physical injury to the victims,” the attorney’s office said in a statement, “in three different ways: (1) a combination of multiple physical injuries or torture, (2) starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life, and (3) causing severe emotional harm.” The children are referred to as “RF” and “EF” in the court’s documentation.
Potential prison sentences for the women range between one and 15 years, as well as up to a $10,000 fine.
Police arrested the women last week after Hildebrandt’s neighbors reported finding Franke’s 12-year-old son wounded, emaciated, and asking for help. When he was found, the child reportedly asked for food and water and had remnants of duct tape on his hands and ankles. A police report said the boy “appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds.” They called EMS and brought him to a hospital. Police examined the home and reportedly found another child, Franke’s 10-year-old daughter, who looked emaciated. Hildebrandt was arrested, according to the police report, because she allegedly had “knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment and neglect.”
An Ivins, Utah, resident who lives near the family told Rolling Stone that he and others had called the police many times to report instances of alleged child abuse. “In early 2022, it started getting weird,” claimed the neighbor who wished not to be identified. “People were concerned because Ruby completely stopped her YouTube stuff. And then it just kind of turned dark. She taped up paper over all of her windows. She would disappear for weeks at a time and there’s all these little kids just left alone in this house.”
People reports that Franke’s sisters and eldest daughter, Shari, have said the children are now “safe” and recovering.
Franke previously hosted a YouTube channel, “8 Passengers,” which has since been removed from the streaming service. On it, she touted disciplinarian tactics like withholding lunch, removing bedroom doors, and threatening to throw away her kids’ beloved items.