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Disgraced family vlogger Ruby Franke pleads guilty to child abuse

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Disgraced family vlogger Ruby Franke pleads guilty to child abuse
WATCH ABOVE: Disgraced family vlogger Ruby Franke pleads guilty to child abuse – Dec 19, 2023

Ruby Franke, a Utah mother of six who documented her family’s life on the now-defunct YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” has pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony.

Franke appeared in court Monday in handcuffs and a grey-and-white prison jumpsuit to accept the plea deal. She was originally charged with six counts of child abuse, but two charges were dropped as part of the agreement.

Franke is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 20.

The court hearing for the disgraced family vlogger was broadcast in full by local news affiliate KUTV, showing Franke solemnly entering a plea of “guilty” as the judge read off her list of charges.

When asked for her plea on the last count, Franke said, “with my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty.”

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As part of the plea agreement, Franke has agreed to testify against her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt.

Both Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested and charged with child abuse in September after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped Hildebrandt’s home, asking for food and water. When emergency responders found him, he was injured, emaciated and had duct tape on his wrists and ankles.

Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was also found in a similar condition when police searched the home, and she required hospitalization alongside her brother.

In total, four of Franke’s children were removed from her care and taken in by the Department of Child and Family Services. Her other two children are adults.

A statement from Franke’s law firm cast blame on Hildebrandt for the child abuse and their own client’s actions, characterizing Franke as a mother “led astray.”

“Over an extended period, Ms. Hildebrandt systematically isolated Ruby Franke from her extended family, older children, and her husband, Kevin Franke,” Winward Law wrote. “This prolonged isolation resulted in Ms. Franke being subjected to a distorted sense of morality.”

Kevin Franke filed for divorce in November. Winward Law notes that Franke is “devastated” by the divorce but “respects his decisions.”

The statement adds that Franke has taken time during her incarceration to reflect on her actions, which has “allowed her to reset her moral compass and understand the full weight of her actions.”

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“Through heartfelt apologies, she seeks to mend relationships and contribute positively to the healing journey of her family.”

Franke’s child abuse charges came as little surprise to followers of her social media presence. For years, the mother of six has faced criticism for her strict parenting style, which was documented on “8 Passengers.”

Photo of Ruby Franke, a family vlogger who was arrested and charged with six counts of felony child abuse. Instagram/Moms of Truth

In a 2020 vlog, Franke’s 15-year-old son disclosed in a video that his bedroom had been taken away for playing pranks on his little brother and he had been sleeping on a bean bag chair for seven months.

In another video, Franke refused to bring her daughter a packed lunch at school because the then-six-year-old was responsible for her own lunch and had forgotten to make it.

In an interview with Insider at the time, Franke said she gave her children “choices” and was teaching them about consequences.

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In 2022, Franke announced she was forming a new channel with Hildebrandt called ConneXions, described as a moms’ “support group.” This channel has also faced backlash for its extreme parenting advice.

Screen grab of an Instagram video featuring Ruby Franke (R) and Jodi Hildebrandt (L) who were both arrested on Aug. 30 on suspicion of aggravated child abuse. Instagram/Moms of Truth

Franke’s oldest daughter celebrated her arrest in September, posting on her Instagram story the word “Finally,” alongside a photo of police cars outside a home.

“Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell the police and [Child Protective Services] for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up. Kids are safe, but there’s a long road ahead,” she wrote in a followup post.
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