Family YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke pleads guilty in child abuse case

Ruby Franke, a former family vlogger and YouTube star, pleaded guilty on Monday to four felony counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse, according to video footage of the hearing uploaded to YouTube. 

Franke, 41, was arrested in August after authorities found two of her children emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around their extremities. The children had escaped from their home in Springville, Utah, and sought help from a neighbor who called 911.

Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, also 41, was arrested along with her on the same charges. The two were known for their strict parenting style and their popular YouTube channel “8 Passengers”, which had nearly 2.3 million subscribers before it was taken down earlier this year. The channel featured Franke and her husband Kevin raising their six children in a remote cabin in Utah. They also collaborated with Hildebrandt on relationship and parenting advice videos for Hildebrandt’s life counseling service ConneXions.

Franke’s neighbors spoke out about their history with the “8 Passengers” mom after her arrest. They said they had witnessed her abusing her children physically and emotionally for years. They also said they had reported her to child protective services several times before she was arrested. One neighbor said he saw Franke tie up one of her children with duct tape and leave them in a closet for hours. Another neighbor said she heard Franke yell at her children and call them names.

Franke’s plea deal was announced in St. George’s 5th District Court for the second-degree aggravated child abuse charges. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. She is expected to be sentenced on March 22, 2024. Hildebrandt has not entered a plea yet and remains in custody without bond.

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