Former YouTube Parenting Host to Serve Up to 30 Years in Prison for Child Abuse

Ruby Franke, the host of a now-defunct parenting channel on YouTube who in December pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse, was sentenced to 1 to 15 years in prison for each of those counts, to be served consecutively, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Jodi Hildebrandt, who had worked with Ms. Franke, received the same sentence on Tuesday.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will determine the exact length of their sentences, neither of which will exceed more than 30 years, the maximum permissible under state law for consecutive sentences.

From May to August 2023, Ms. Franke, a mother of six, created a “concentration camp-like setting” for two of her children, who were 9 and 11 at the time, Eric Clarke, the Washington County attorney, said during the sentencing hearing. She regularly denied them adequate food, water, entertainment and beds, and isolated them from others, he said.

Ms. Franke, 42, also forced her children to do physical tasks in extreme heat, without shoes, socks or water, Mr. Clarke said. They were forced to stand on hot concrete in the summer heat for hours and sometimes days at a time, he added, and were beaten and regularly bound by their hands and feet. The injuries were so severe that the children required hospitalization.

“Had the older of the children not had the courage to run away and ask a neighbor to call the police, heaven only knows how much longer he could have survived in that situation,” Mr. Clarke said.

Ms. Franke, who was known for documenting her strict parenting style on social media, was arrested on Aug. 30 last year along with Ms. Hildebrandt. The police said at the time that two of Ms. Franke’s children appeared malnourished, and that one had open wounds, and duct tape on his ankles and wrists.

Ms. Franke was the host of a YouTube channel called “8 Passengers,” which has since been removed from the platform. In the videos, she documented the lives of her six children and chronicled her parenting strategies, which included punishing her children by withholding food. The channel had nearly 2.5 million subscribers before it was taken down.

“For the past four years, I’ve chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion,” Ms. Franke said at the sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

“I was led to believe that this world was an evil place filled with cops who control, hospitals that injure, government agencies that brainwash, church leaders who lie and lust, husbands who refuse to protect and children who need abuse,” she added.

She expressed remorse on Tuesday and said that she took “full accountability” for the choices she had made.

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