YouTuber Ruby Franke Sentenced for Child Abuse

She and Jodi Hildebrandt will serve at least 4 years in prison, and as many as 60
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2023 7:35 AM CST
Updated Feb 20, 2024 2:00 PM CST
YouTuber Franke: Partner Created 'Distorted Sense of Morality'
This image from video shows Ruby Franke during a hearing on Dec. 18 in St. George, Utah.   (Ron Chaffin/St. George News via AP, Pool)
UPDATE Feb 20, 2024 2:00 PM CST

YouTube celeb Ruby Franke and business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were each sentenced Tuesday to serve at least four years and as many as 60 years in prison over child abuse charges, reports the Hill. Each received four terms of 1 to 15 years to be served consecutively, with the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole to determine how long each woman remains behind bars, per NBC News.

Dec 29, 2023 7:35 AM CST

Earlier this month, YouTube parenting and relationship advice guru Ruby Franke pleaded guilty in Utah to four counts of child abuse, admitting she tortured and abused her two youngest children and told them her harsh punishments were necessary because they were "evil and possessed." Now, the mental health counselor who dispensed advice online with Franke has entered her own pleas. The AP reports that Jodi Hildebrandt, who ran the ConneXions life coaching service, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to four counts of aggravated child abuse, with her attorney, Douglas Terry, noting that his client decided to admit to her crimes so that Franke's children wouldn't be forced to take the stand.

"She takes responsibility, and it is her main concern at this point that these children can heal, both physically and emotionally," Terry says. Judge John Walton dismissed the remaining two counts against Hildebrandt while accepting her plea deal, which detailed the "physical torture" and "severe emotional harm" suffered by Franke's children at the hands of the two business partners, per NBC News. Police say Franke's 12-year-old son, who escaped from Hildebrandt's home in Ivins on Aug. 30, was found malnourished and with open wounds. Franke's similarly emaciated 9-year-old daughter was found inside the home.

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Those two children, as well as two others, were taken from Franke, whose husband Kevin has filed for divorce, and placed in state custody. In a statement from Franke's legal team to FOX 13, the attorneys try to lay the blame for what transpired on Hildebrandt, calling Franke, who used to lead the "8 Passengers" YouTube channel, a "devoted mother" of six. "Initially, Ms. Franke believed that [Hildebrandt] had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement. Ms. [Hildebrandt] took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous," they note. (More Ruby Franke stories.)

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