YouTube mom Ruby Franke apologizes at sentencing in child abuse case

This image from video shows Ruby Franke during a hearing in St. George, Utah., on Dec. 18, 2023. RON CHAFFIN/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ruby Franke, a mom from Utah with six kids, said sorry to her children for hurting them. She might go to jail for a long time because of it.

She said her partner on YouTube influenced her badly. She thanked the people who helped her kids.

Another person involved got prison time too. They were supposed to help Ruby’s son but ended up in trouble with her.

Franke didn’t ask for a shorter jail time. She thanked the people who helped her kids.

But, because of a law in Utah, the women will only be in prison for up to 30 years. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will watch how they behave in prison to decide how much time they’ll really spend there.

Ruby Franke, who is 42 years old, apologized to her children, even though they weren’t there when she was told she’d go to prison. She said she’s really sorry for hurting them. She also said she was tricked into doing bad things.

Franke and her partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, who is 54, admitted to hurting Franke’s two youngest kids. They tried to make them think they were bad and needed to be punished. They were arrested after Franke’s 12-year-old son ran away and asked for help.

The boy was hurt and tied up when the police found him. He said Hildebrandt had hurt him badly.

The lawyer said the way Franke and Hildebrandt treated the kids was like being in a very horrible place, like the camps where the Nazis hurt people during World War II.

Franke feels sorry and has worked with her lawyers. But Clarke, the lawyer, said Hildebrandt hasn’t shown any sorrow and keeps blaming the kids. Hildebrandt’s lawyer, Terry, said his client isn’t as bad as people think and takes responsibility for what she did.

Hildebrandt didn’t exactly apologize but said she cares about the kids and wants them to feel better. She told the judge she agreed to the deal to spare the kids from having to talk about what happened in court.

The counselor admitted to some of the charges against her, and some were dropped as part of her deal. Franke admitted to some charges too, but not all.

Franke and her husband started a popular YouTube channel in 2015 about their family life. Later, Franke worked with Hildebrandt’s counseling company, doing seminars and making more videos.

Franke admitted to hurting her son by kicking him, holding his head underwater, and covering his nose and mouth. She and Hildebrandt made him work hard in hot weather without enough food or water, which made him sick. They told him it was because they loved him.

Hildebrandt also made Franke’s young daughter do painful things, like jumping into a cactus and running on rough roads until her feet hurt. The kids had to go to the hospital, and now they’re with the state along with their siblings.

Before Franke got in trouble, people online already argued about her parenting style. Some disagreed with how she punished her kids, like not letting her son go to his room for a long time or refusing to bring lunch to a forgetful child. She even talked about cutting a girl’s stuffed toy because she was misbehaving.

Their YouTube channel, “8 Passengers,” is gone now, and Franke’s husband wants a divorce.

Franke and Hildebrandt can appeal their sentences within 30 days.