Ruby Franke’s ex-husband sues Jodi Hildebrandt for ‘exploding his family’

Split screen image of Kevin Franke (L) in an August 2023 police interview and Jodi Hildebrandt and Ruby Franke (R) as seen in an Instagram video together. Kevin Franke sued Jodi Hildebrandt for negligence and emotional distress two months after she and Ruby Franke were sentenced to four to 60 years in prison for child abuse. Washington County Attorney's Office & Instagram/Moms of Truth

Ruby Franke‘s estranged husband Kevin Franke has filed a lawsuit against Jodi Hildebrandt, accusing the former therapist of “dismantling, exploding his family and his personal life,” two months after Ruby and Hildebrandt were both sentenced to four to 60 years in prison for child abuse.

He claims that Hildebrandt’s actions were negligent and caused emotional distress to him and his children, and he is seeking unspecified monetary damages “for past, present and future pain and suffering,” according to a copy of the lawsuit, published by local affiliate KUTV.

Click to play video: 'Ruby Franke: Utah court sentences disgraced family vlogger to 4-60 years for child abuse'
Ruby Franke: Utah court sentences disgraced family vlogger to 4-60 years for child abuse

Kevin filed for divorce from Ruby in November 2023 while the former family vlogger was under investigation for torturing the couple’s two youngest children. Kevin told police in an August 2023 interview that he and Ruby had already been separated for over a year at that point and he was unaware that she had moved their children into Hildebrandt’s home.

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It was from Hildebrandt’s home that one of Kevin and Ruby’s sons escaped, emaciated and with duct tape around his wrists and ankles. The boy was discovered in this shocking state by one of Hildebrandt’s neighbours, who called police, kicking off a months-long investigation into Ruby and Hildebrandt and culminating in them admitting to child abuse.

In their plea agreement, Ruby and Hildebrandt admitted to forcing Ruby’s nine-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son to do gruelling physical labour, sometimes barefoot and in the heat of Utah’s summer sun, for hours on end while being denied access to food and water. Ruby and Kevin’s son was regularly bound by his hands and feet, causing injuries to his extremities. Both children were indoctrinated to believe this torture was necessary punishment because they were evil, possessed and needed to repent.

Ruby even detailed the torture of her children in journal entries released by prosecutors.

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In his lawsuit, Kevin claims that Hildebrandt’s actions breached her duty of care and inflicted emotional distress on him and his children, leading to decreased enjoyment of life and economic losses.

As a result of the child abuse, Kevin claims that his children’s “personalities, emotions and psyches” have been damaged beyond his “capability to restore them without professional intervention.”

Kevin has filed for guardianship of his and Franke’s four minor children, who currently remain in the State of Utah’s custody, according to the lawsuit. The four kids, and Kevin himself, have been undergoing therapy. Two of Kevin and Ruby’s children are adults and were not mentioned in the lawsuit.

“In order to restore his children to his care in their family home, Father himself, has complied with the Court process and has affirmatively sought his own regimen of professional therapy, in order to coordinate not only with the children’s treatment providers, but to gain an understanding of his children’s conditions and needs, and how to best facilitate the restoration of all of his children back to their former status as happy and healthy individuals and of a happy and intact family in their family home,” the lawsuit reads.

The filing also claims that Hildebrandt’s “intentional and/or negligent acts … have completely damaged and altered, for the worse, Kevin’s marriage (the children’s mother is in prison), all of his children’s individual psyches, personalities and behaviors; essentially dismantling, exploding his family and his personal life.”

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Randy Kester, the lawyer representing Kevin, issued a statement on his client’s behalf to KUTV.

“This lawsuit marks a significant step in our journey towards seeking justice for myself and my children against the abuses inflicted by Ms. Hildebrandt. Ms. Hildebrandt weaponized her authority and professional training to cause tremendous harm and damage to myself, my children, and my family. I am committed to doing everything I possibly can to ensure that this dangerous woman can never harm another individual again and to seek the long-term healing and welfare of my children.”

Screen grab of an Instagram video featuring Ruby Franke (R) and Jodi Hildebrandt (L) who were both arrested on Aug. 30, 2023, for aggravated child abuse. Jodi Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to four counts of child abuse in a plea deal signed Dec. 23, 2023. Instagram/Moms of Truth

When Ruby pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse, the law firm representing her aimed to pin blame on Hildebrandt, characterizing Ruby as “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.”

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Ruby apologized to her children in court after being sentenced to four to 60 years in prison.

“I’ll never stop crying for hurting your tender souls,” Franke said to her kids, who were not present at the hearing. “My willingness to sacrifice all for you was masterfully manipulated into something very ugly. I took from you all that was soft and safe and good.”

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