– Sentence for Child Abuse: Utah Vloggers Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt

ST. GEORGE, Utah (TCD) – Two parenting vloggers were handed a minimum four-year prison sentence by a judge following their admission of guilt to multiple counts of child abuse involving the torment and starvation of two children.

As reported by KSL-TV, Judge John Walton imposed a one to 15-year sentence on Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt for four counts of aggravated child abuse, with the stipulation that the sentences run consecutively. Initially facing six counts of child abuse, the two women were taken into custody in September 2023.

Franke expressed a sense of liberation upon her arrest, acknowledging the officers as “angels” for rescuing her children.

In a subsequent plea deal, Franke agreed to testify against Hildebrandt, who pleaded guilty shortly after. The sentences handed down are subject to a maximum of 30 years in accordance with state laws limiting consecutive sentences, with certain exceptions.

The events leading to their arrest unfolded on the morning of August 30 when the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department responded to a call reporting a malnourished juvenile with open wounds and duct tape restraining their limbs seeking assistance. Subsequent investigations led to the rescue of another juvenile, a girl, in a similar state of malnourishment.

Franke’s guilty plea detailed the abuse endured by a 9-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, who turned 12 during the ordeal. The boy, identified as RF, was subjected to grueling tasks under the sun, deprived of water, and faced punitive measures for attempting to hydrate himself. His escape attempt in July was met with restraints on his hands and feet, including handcuffs and weights.

The plea agreement outlined instances where the boy was bound in contorted positions, causing muscle and tissue damage, which were then treated with unconventional remedies and covered with duct tape. The abuse extended to physical assaults, submersion under water, and oxygen deprivation.

Hildebrandt and Franke aimed to manipulate RF into believing he was inherently malevolent, coercing obedience to avoid punishment. Similar treatment was inflicted on the 9-year-old girl, who was isolated, starved, and psychologically tormented under the guise of discipline and repentance.

The abuse transpired at Hildebrandt’s residence, where the victims were subjected to harrowing conditions likened to a “concentration camp” by Washington County Prosecutor Eric Clarke. The prosecutor commended the older child’s bravery in seeking help, preventing a potentially dire outcome.

Franke, known for her YouTube channel “8 Passengers” with over 2 million subscribers, collaborated with Hildebrandt on the program “ConneXions” following the channel’s removal in 2022. Hildebrandt, a former mental health counselor, relinquished her license post the charges.

During the sentencing, Hildebrandt professed her love for the children, prompting Judge Walton to underscore the duty of adults, especially those with specialized training, to safeguard children from harm. Clarke emphasized the severity of the victims’ ordeal, highlighting the critical intervention that averted further tragedy.