A Utah woman who gave online parenting advice via a once-popular YouTube channel was charged Friday with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse after two of her six children were found abused and malnourished, authorities said.
Ruby Franke, whose now-defunct channel “8 Passengers” chronicled her family life, was arrested Wednesday night in the southern Utah city of Ivins. She was taken into custody at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt, who owns a counseling business that she says teaches people to improve their lives by being honest, responsible and humble. Hildebrandt was also arrested Wednesday and faces the same six abuse charges.
Franke appears in YouTube videos with Hildebrandt that were posted online by Hildebrandt’s counseling business, ConneXions Classroom.
Prosecutors allege 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 harmed emotionally, prosecutors said.
Both women are being held without the possibility of posting bail, court records said.
Wednesday morning, Franke’s son climbed out of a window in Hildebrandt’s residence and ran to a neighbor’s house, asking for food and water, according to an affidavit filed by an officer with the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.
The neighbor saw duct tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists and called law enforcement, the affidavit said. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was put on a medical hold “due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” arrest records state.
Franke’s daughter was later found malnourished in Hildebrandt’s house and was also taken to the hospital, officers said. Two of Franke’s other children were placed in the custody of child protection services, the affidavit said.