Ruby Franke, a Utah mother known for her family YouTube channel, has pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. Initially facing six felony counts alongside her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, Franke entered into a plea deal to testify against Hildebrandt, resulting in the dismissal of two counts.
Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested in August after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped and sought help from a neighbor. The boy was found “emaciated and malnourished” with “open wounds” and duct tape on his wrists and ankles.
The couple, who ran the 8 Passengers YouTube channel featuring their six children, had faced criticism for their parenting style, with accusations of food withholding and neglect. After the channel was shut down in 2022, Franke began producing content for ConneXions, a counseling company owned by Hildebrandt.
Franke’s husband, Kevin, filed for divorce in November.
By pleading guilty to four counts, Franke admitted her involvement in torturing her children. Court documents revealed that her son and daughter were subjected to extended outdoor punishment without food or water, resulting in serious sunburns with blisters. Her son was regularly bound and hogtied with handcuffs and duct tape. Franke also confessed to holding her son’s head underwater and suffocating him.
Franke’s attorney, LaMar Winward, referred to her as a “devoted mother” committed to improvement, attributing her actions to manipulation by Hildebrandt.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 20.