### Apology from US YouTuber in Child Abuse Trial

Ruby Franke, a mother of six from Utah who previously provided parenting guidance to a vast audience through a once-popular YouTube channel, expressed a heartfelt apology to her children for subjecting them to physical and emotional mistreatment. This apology came prior to a judicial decision that could potentially result in her incarceration for an extended period.

Franke acknowledged feeling “manipulated” by her co-YouTuber and business associate. She informed the court of her decision not to seek a reduced sentence. Additionally, she extended gratitude to local law enforcement, medical professionals, and social workers, referring to them as the “angels” who safeguarded her children from harm during a period when she was under the influence of her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt.

Jodi Hildebrandt, a mental health counselor from Utah who had initially been engaged to assist Franke’s youngest child before becoming her business partner, also received four consecutive prison terms ranging from one to 15 years each. However, due to a statutory limitation in Utah, both women will serve a combined maximum of 30 years behind bars. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will assess their conduct during imprisonment to determine the duration of their incarceration.

During the sentencing hearing in St. George, Franke, 42, emotionally addressed her absent children, expressing deep remorse for the pain she inflicted upon them. She lamented how her genuine intentions to prioritize her children’s well-being were twisted into something dark and harmful. Franke and Hildebrandt, aged 54, had admitted guilt to four counts of aggravated child abuse, involving attempts to convince Franke’s two youngest children that they were inherently wicked and in need of punishment for repentance.

The arrests of Franke and Hildebrandt occurred at Hildebrandt’s residence in Ivins, Utah, following a distress call made by Franke’s 12-year-old son, who had managed to escape and seek help from a neighbor. The boy was found malnourished, injured, and bound with duct tape. He disclosed to investigators the abusive treatment he endured, including being restrained with ropes and subjected to cayenne pepper and honey for wound care.

Prosecutor Eric Clarke characterized the environment maintained by Franke and Hildebrandt as akin to a “concentration camp-like setting,” drawing a chilling parallel to the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. While Franke displayed contrition and cooperation, Hildebrandt exhibited a lack of remorse and shifted blame onto the children. Hildebrandt’s legal counsel emphasized her acceptance of responsibility for her actions and her desire for the children’s healing.

Franke confessed in a plea agreement to acts of physical abuse such as kicking her son while wearing boots and submerging his head underwater. She also admitted to engaging in forced labor with inadequate provisions of food and water, resulting in dehydration and severe sunburns. The children were coerced into believing that these acts were expressions of love. Hildebrandt, on the other hand, admitted to coercing Franke’s youngest daughter to endure painful tasks like jumping into a cactus and running barefoot on gravel roads.

Following the arrests, the traumatized children were hospitalized and placed under state custody along with their siblings. Prior to the legal proceedings, Ruby Franke had faced criticism within the parenting vlogging community for certain disciplinary actions, including a controversial decision to ban her eldest son from his room for an extended period. The YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” run by the Franke family, has since been discontinued, and Kevin Franke has initiated divorce proceedings.

Both Franke and Hildebrandt have the option to appeal their sentences within a 30-day window from the date of publication.