Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty To Child Abuse And Shockingly Agrees To Testify Against Business Partner

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Ruby Franke plead guilty to child abuse charges this week, months after her September arrest. Franke was initially arrested on six counts of child abuse, with two counts dropped under the plea deal this week. Franke will serve time in prison for telling her two youngest children that they were possessed and that physical punishment was required in order for them to repent. CBS affiliate KUTV was first to confirm the plea deal. Her ConneXions business partner Jodi Hildebrandt was also arrested, and in a unique turn of events, Franke has agreed to testify against her.

Franke is known as the mormon mom influencer based out of Ivins, Utah who once ran the massively successful “8 Passengers” YouTube channel. She was known for documenting her strict and often unforgiving parenting style.The arrest came after one of her children escaped the home with lacerations from ropes and duct tape on their wrists and ankles. The child, who was reportedly also extremely malnourished, went to a neighbor asking for help. Upon seeing the child’s condition, the neighbor called the police.

The police then found another child in the home with similar injuries. The police department contacted the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, and four children were taken into their care. The AP reported that a judge denied bail for the two women on account of the severity of the two children’s injuries.

Under Utah state law, second-degree aggravated child abuse can be criminally charged if the defendant purposefully inflicts physical injury onto a child or permits another to abuse them. Winward Law, Franke’s defense, issued a statement on Friday that appeared to place blame for Franke’s behavior on Hildebrandt’s counseling services.

The statement alleged that Hildebrandt led Franke to  “a distorted sense of morality.” It went on to read that “Ruby Franke is a devoted mother and is also a woman committed to constant improvement,” and that that her co-defendant Hildebrandt “had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement,” but said that she “took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous.”

During Franke’s jail time thus far, “she has actively engaged in an introspection that has allowed her to reset her moral compass and understand the full weight of her actions. Ms. Franke is committed to taking responsibility for the part she played in the events leading up to her incarceration,” the statement said.


New Details Of The Abuse

The plea agreement contains disturbing new details regarding the abuse Franke inflicted on her children. Franke admits that she tortured her now 12-year-old son from May 22 through Aug. 30 by forcing him into hours of grueling labor, such as wall sits and carrying boxes full of books up and down stairs; summer work outdoors without access to drinking water; and “repeated and serious sunburns” that became infected.

Additionally, he was denied food, punished for secretly drinking water, and was isolated from the outside world with no access to electronics, notebooks, or books. After a failed attempt to run away, his hands were regularly bound in handcuffs and ropes. Franke has also admitted to kicking her son while wearing work boots and holding his head under water and smothering his mouth and nose with her hands. These actions were reported to cause the child severe emotional harm.

The new revelations in the plea deal continue to shock the masses, with many calling for a lengthy prison sentence for Franke and Hildebrandt.

“He was also told that everything that was being done to him were acts of love,” the plea agreement claims. As for her daughter, the former mom influencer admitted to similarly forcing her into physical outdoor labor, but barefoot, often giving way to cuts and painful blisters on her skin. She was reportedly convinced that her mother’s claims of demonic possession were true.

The boy initially escaped Hildebrandt’s residence in September, and appeared to have his wounds dressed in honey and cayenne pepper, which should not be used on open sores, according to Mount Sinai. 


The Background

“8 Passengers” reached 2.5 million subscribers at its peak. The abuse allegations come after a number of questionable practices. Husband and wife Ruby and Kevin Franke have long managed their sizable social media presence, both for themselves and their family members.

Franke’s son Chad claimed that he slept on a beanbag for months after having his bedroom revoked over a prank he played on his brother. In an archival video, Chad Franke discusses the incident, and Ruby Franke is seen heavily restricting access to her children’s electronics. The mother of six is also seen forcing them to choose punishments for each other should they violate the ban.

Upon the September arrests, Kevin and Ruby’s oldest daughter, Shari Franke, shared an Instagram story of the police and wrote “finally.” A statement from Ruby Franke’s sisters also stated that they were grateful that “justice had been served.” Shari alleged that she had been trying to contact CPS regarding her mother’s behavior for years.

Since abruptly leaving YouTube with no explanation, Ruby Franke became involved in local life coaching organization called ConneXions. In an Instagram story posted in September 2022, Shari confirmed she was no longer in contact with her mother, and that she did not support “the extreme beliefs” of ConneXions, the business she ran with Hildebrandt.

Franke’s husband, Kevin Franke, has filed for divorce, and expressed intent to obtain custody of the couple’s remaining children who are minors. His attorney previously confirmed that they had been separated for a year prior to the crimes.

Hildebrant is due to be sentenced in February.

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