### From Parenting YouTuber to Convicted Child Abuser: The Transformation of Ruby Franke

  • Ruby Franke, a popular mommy vlogger, had amassed 2.3 million followers on her YouTube channel before it abruptly disappeared due to prolonged criticism of her parenting approach.

Renowned as a ‘momfluencer,’ Ruby Franke gained widespread fame through her YouTube channel, 8 Passengers, where she and her then-husband, Kevin Franke, shared their journey of raising six children, capturing the attention of millions of viewers.

However, beneath the surface, a darker reality unfolded. In a dramatic turn of events last year, Franke, aged 42, admitted guilt to four counts of child abuse, involving severe mistreatment of two of her children in what was described as a ‘concentration camp-like environment.’

During the sentencing at Utah’s 5th District Court, Franke tearfully faced the verdict of serving a potential 30-year prison term for the egregious abuse inflicted on her children.

While awaiting the final duration of her incarceration, determined by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, Franke’s fall from grace marked a stark contrast to her once-thriving presence as a mommy blogger.

‘Momfluencer’ Ruby Franke became an internet sensation thanks to her YouTube channel 8 Passengers in which her millions of viewers watched how she and then husband, Kevin Franke, raised, and disciplined, their six children

On Tuesday at Utah’s 5th District Court, the mother wept as she was told she will serve up to 30 years in prison for brutally abusing the two children in a ‘concentration camp-like setting’

Initially launching her YouTube venture in 2015 alongside her spouse, Kevin Franke, Ruby showcased their distinctive parenting methods infused with their Mormon beliefs, attracting a substantial following exceeding two million subscribers with their daily life portrayal in Utah with their six kids.

Nonetheless, the abrupt disappearance of their channel in January 2023 signaled the culmination of mounting criticism surrounding Franke’s disciplinary actions towards her children.

One notable incident involved her son being relegated to sleep on a beanbag in a hallway after a sibling altercation, a decision Franke defended as the child’s choice in an interview with Business Insider.

Another controversial episode featured Franke punishing her 6-year-old daughter for forgetting her lunch, reflecting a recurring theme of granting her children autonomy while routinely discarding their possessions.

The YouTube channel vanished from the internet in January 2023, after years of people calling out Franke’s style of disciplining her kids

She quickly racked up more than two million subscribers by chronicling their lives in Utah with their six children

Ruby Franke, (left)  who ran the now-defunct 8 Passengers channel, was arrested along with her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt (right) on August 30

Tensions escalated in 2020 when public outcry led to a petition urging Child Protective Services to investigate Franke’s parenting practices, culminating in a police visit to their residence following reports of unsupervised children for an extended period.

The situation unraveled further in August 2023 when Franke’s 12-year-old child escaped from Jodi Hildebrandt’s residence, Franke’s business partner, appearing malnourished and restrained with tape. The subsequent 911 call painted a distressing picture of the child’s ordeal.

Subsequent investigations uncovered a harrowing reality where Franke’s minor children were subjected to neglect and abuse, prompting their immediate removal into protective custody.

In court, Franke (LEFT)broke down in tears as she told her ex-husband, Kevin Franke (RIGHT), who was present in the courtroom that he was the love of her life

Perhaps the most famous incident saw Franke punish her daughter, 6, for forgetting her school lunch at home and refusing to bring it to her

Despite the abuse occurring at Hildebrandt’s residence, evidence implicated her involvement during the atrocities, leading to the arrest of both Franke and Hildebrandt, eliciting widespread concern from neighbors and the community regarding Franke’s parenting methods.

The distressing revelations shattered the facade of Franke’s public image, contrasting sharply with the positive relationship advocacy propagated through their joint YouTube channel, ConneXions, which endorsed severe parenting techniques.

Following their guilty pleas in December 2023 for four counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse, Franke and Hildebrandt faced sentencing, expressing remorse for their actions and accepting the consequences of their crimes.

Ruby’s eldest child, Shari (seen in May), sat in the courtroom for the sentencing beside her brother Chad

Franke, right, has shifted the blame to Hildebrandt, alleging that was inspired the child abuse

The legal proceedings garnered significant public interest, shedding light on the stark disparity between Franke’s curated online persona and the grim reality of child abuse that unfolded behind closed doors, challenging the perceptions of her affluent lifestyle.

Chief Deputy Washington County Attorney Ryan Shaum condemned their actions as among the most severe cases of child abuse witnessed in his extensive legal career, detailing the appalling conditions the children endured under Franke and Hildebrandt’s care.

The fallout extended to Franke’s family, with her sister Bonnie Hoellein distancing herself from the crimes, emphasizing their efforts to intervene legally to protect the children, a sentiment echoed by Franke’s other sister, Ellie Mecham.

Additionally, Franke’s daughter, Shari, applauded the authorities for finally taking action after years of failed attempts to report the abuse, underscoring the long-standing concerns regarding Franke’s parenting practices.

Hildebrandt relinquished her counseling licenses post-arrest, while Franke’s husband initiated divorce proceedings, clarifying that no allegations of physical abuse had been directed towards him amidst the unfolding scandal.