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Parenting Advice YouTuber Sentenced To Jail For Child Abuse

A Utah mother, Ruby Franke, renowned for her contentious parenting advice on YouTube, has been sentenced to a minimum of four years in prison for child abuse.

The 42-year-old, who tearfully apologized in court, had previously pleaded guilty to the starvation and abuse of her children.

Franke’s former business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, 54, also received an identical sentence.

The judge ordered them to serve four terms of one to 15 years each, with the sentences running consecutively, representing the maximum under Utah law. The actual time served will be determined by the state’s parole board.

Franke has 30 days to appeal the decision.

During the court proceedings, Utah prosecutor Eric Clarke described the living conditions of two of Franke’s children, aged nine and 11 at the time, as resembling a “concentration camp-like setting.”

He labelled Franke a significant threat to the community, stating, “The children were regularly denied food, water, beds to sleep in, and virtually all forms of entertainment.”

Franke, visibly distraught following the sentencing, apologized to her children, claiming she was disoriented and misled, believing “dark was light and right was wrong.” She alleged she was led to believe the world was an evil place, filled with deceitful authorities and harmful institutions.

The arrests of Franke and Hildebrandt occurred in August 2023 after Franke’s malnourished 12-year-old son escaped from Hildebrandt’s house in Utah. Police discovered lacerations on the child, who had been tied up with rope, highlighting the severity of the abuse.

Franke’s YouTube career, which had garnered over two million subscribers to her channel, “8 Passengers,” ended amid the controversy.

Fans had grown suspicious in 2020, uncovering disturbing practices such as withholding food and other forms of harsh discipline, prompting a petition demanding an investigation.

Despite initially dismissing criticism, the channel’s popularity declined, leading to its deletion in 2022, the same year Franke and her husband separated. The abuse, however, continued, with Franke appearing in videos posted by Hildebrandt, a counsellor and life coach, on her site, ConneXions Classroom.

Police records detailed the extent of the abuse, including tying, beating, and neglecting to feed the children, along with forcing them to work outdoors without protection. In a plea agreement, Hildebrandt acknowledged her involvement, admitting to either torturing the children or being aware of the abuse.

Franke’s ex-husband, Kevin Franke, urged for the maximum sentence to be given, describing the abuse suffered by his children as “horrific and inhumane” through his lawyer.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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