Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt made a virtual appearance in court on Friday amidst a chaotic hearing that was streamed online. Prior to the start of the hearing, the virtual meeting room was filled with disorder as individuals yelled at each other, and a portion of the explicit song “WAP” was played. Over 1,000 users joined the Webex hearing to observe the proceedings.
Franke, known for her YouTube channel 8 Passengers, and Hildebrandt, her business partner from the now-defunct channel ConneXions, face six felony child abuse charges. The charges stem from an incident where Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped Hildebrandt’s home and sought help from a neighbor, revealing signs of malnourishment and injuries. Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was also found malnourished at Hildebrandt’s residence.
The virtual hearing experienced significant delays and disruptions due to the large number of attendees. Participants engaged in arguments, profanity-laced exchanges, and played inappropriate content. The court repeatedly instructed attendees to mute themselves. Eventually, Judge Eric Gentry requested those present solely for Franke and Hildebrandt’s case to leave, allowing others with scheduled appearances to join.
During their brief appearance before the judge, Franke and Hildebrandt’s proceedings were primarily administrative. Franke will remain in custody without bail, while her attorneys were granted a motion to transfer the case to a different judge. Hildebrandt will also continue to be held without bail. The next hearing for both women is scheduled for September 21.