YouTuber Ruby Franke expected to reach a deal Monday, lawyer says

YouTuber Ruby Franke is expected to enter a plea deal on Monday, her lawyer said, after being charged six cases of child abuse in September.

Franke, 41, is due in court in Utah’s Washington County at 11 a.m. local time. The statement from Winward Law, the law firm representing Franke, did not elaborate on the details of the agreement.

“Our client is cooperating with the prosecution and expects to resolve this matter expeditiously by entering into a plea agreement with the court on Monday, December 18,” the firm said.

Franke, an influential YouTuber known for giving parenting advice, was arrested in Utah in late August after her malnourished son ran to a neighbor’s house and asked for food and water, authorities said. Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, 54, was also arrested and charged with child abuse. Both women were arrested at Hildebrandt’s house in Ivins, Utah, and is being held without bond.

Winward Law claims that Franke was “led astray” by Hildebrandt.

“Over an extended period of time, Ms. Hildebrant systematically isolated Ruby Franke from her extended family, older children and her husband, Kevin Franke,” the firm said in its statement. “This prolonged isolation resulted in Mrs. Franke being exposed to a distorted moral sense, shaped by Mrs. Hildebrandt’s influence.”

Douglas Terry, Jodi Hildebrandt’s attorney, declined to comment on Winward Law’s allegations.

Prosecutors allege that Franke and Hildebrandt either caused or allowed someone to torture Franke’s 12-year-old son and injure her 10-year-old daughter. Both children were starved and emotionally hurt, prosecutors said.

According to an affidavit filed by an officer with the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department, Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of a window at Hildebrandt’s residence in Ivins and ran to a neighbor’s house on Aug. 30, asking for food and water.

The neighbor saw duct tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists and called the police, the affidavit states. The boy was taken to a hospital where he was placed on a medical team “due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnutrition,” the arrest records state.

The boy told officers that “Jodi” put the ropes on his ankles and wrists and that they used cayenne pepper and honey to dress the wounds caused by the ropes, according to a search warrant filed that day.

While cayenne pepper has long been an ingredient used for medicinal purposes, it should not be used on cracked skin or open wounds, according to Mount Sinai.

Franke’s daughter was later found malnourished at Hildebrandt’s house and was also taken to the hospital, officers said.

They, along with two other of Franke’s children, were taken into the custody of child protective services.

Franke’s YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” which followed her family of eight, had more than 2 million subscribers before it was taken down after her and Hildebrandt’s arrest.

Hildebrandt owns a consulting company called ConneXions. The company’s website said Franke provides content for social media and podcasts. ConneXions videos featuring Hildebrandt and Franke were removed from YouTube after the women were charged.

The Franke family was criticized for their parenting decisions, including banning their eldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his younger brother. In a video, Ruby Franke talked about refusing to take lunch to a kindergartener who left it at home. Another showed her threatening to cut the head off a young girl’s stuffed toy to punish her for cutting things in the house.

Kevin Franke has since filed for divorce. Winward Law said in a statement that while Ruby Franke is “devastated by this news, she recognizes and understands his anger and reasoning.”

“Despite the pain, she respects his decisions and remains hopeful that in time she can help rebuild trust and create understanding in their family,” the firm said. “Ruby has offered her full cooperation to help the children be reunited with their father.”

Franke’s eldest daughter, Sherri Franke, cut ties with her parents, she has said in posts on social media.

Police records from Springville, Utah — where the Franke family lived — show that Sherri Franke called police on Sept. 18, 2022, to report that her brothers and sisters had been home alone for several days. Police also spoke to neighbors but were unable to contact the children. According to the police report, a report has been made to the child and family service.

Records show officers stopped at the house four more times from Sept. 22 to Oct. 3.

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