Ruby Franke, a woman in Utah who had previously provided parenting advice on a popular YouTube channel, has been charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse. This follows the discovery that two of her six children were found to have suffered from abuse and malnourishment.
The Associated Press reported that Franke was arrested Wednesday night in Ivins, Utah at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt, who runs a counseling business meant to promote honesty, responsibility, and humility.
Hildebrandt is facing the same six abuse charges as Franke. It has been reported that Franke and Hildebrandt were associated through Hildebrandt’s counseling business, ConneXions Classroom, which was documented in YouTube videos.
The prosecutors have alleged that either Franke or Hildebrandt inflicted torture upon Franke’s 12-year-old son and caused injury to her 10-year-old daughter or allowed it to occur. Both women are currently being detained without bail.
On Wednesday morning, a neighbor called the authorities after spotting duct tape on Franke’s son’s wrists and ankles. The boy had apparently escaped the house by climbing out of a window and running to the neighbor’s home, asking for food and water.
He was taken to the hospital where he was placed on medical hold due to deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and malnourishment.
According to NBC News, he was described as “emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds,” so severe that they were seen by Santa Clara-Ivins EMS and transported to a local area hospital.
In 2015, Franke gained notoriety through her “8 Passengers” YouTube channel which tracked her husband’s life along with their six children. The channel had amassed over 2.3 million subscribers before it was removed earlier this year without explanation.
In June 2020, some viewers called child protective services after it was revealed that Chad Franke, then aged 15, had been sleeping on a beanbag for seven months.
The Frankes’ strict parenting style was cited as the reason for this action; however, they explained that the sleeping arrangement was chosen by Chad himself following his removal from a shared bedroom with his younger brother due to behavioral issues.
In one video, the couple disclosed that their two youngest children did not receive presents from Santa Claus one year because of their selfishness and refusal to respond to punishments such as being kept home from school and cleaning the floorboards.
“It’s because they’re so numb, and the more numb your child is the bigger the outcome they need to wake them up,” Franke said.
Elle Mechem, Julie Griffiths Deru, and Bonnie Hoellein, three women who claim to be Franke’s sisters and who themselves are family influencers, posted a joint Instagram post saying that her arrest “needed to happen.”
“For the past 3 years, we have kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children,” the post said. “Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe.”