YouTuber Mom Ruby Franke Sentenced to Prison For Child Abuse

She was arrested after her malnourished son escaped from window looking for food.

Ruby Franke, a mother of six who gave online parenting advice via a popular YouTube channel, was sentenced to four prison terms of between one and 15 years each, on aggravated child abuse charges.

Franke, 42, who had 2.3 million followers on her now-deleted 8 Passengers video channel, was arrested in the southern Utah city of Ivins last August after her malnourished 12-year-old son, with open wounds and bound with duct tape, climbed out of a window at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt, owner of a self-improvement counseling business, to ask for food and water from a neighbor.

One of Franke’s daughters was later found in a similar malnourished condition in Hildebrandt’s home. After Franke’s arrest, her eldest daughter Shari Franke, aged 20, shared a now-deleted Instagram image of police officers with the caption: “Finally.”

Franke and Hildebrandt, who collaborated on parenting and relationship advice videos posted on Hildebrandt’s life coaching service ConneXions, pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated child abuse in December. Hildebrandt was also sentenced to the same prison terms as Franke.

At her sentencing, Franke apologized to her children, saying she had believed dark was light and right was wrong.

I would do anything in this world for you. I took from you all that was soft, and safe and good.

Franke also told the court: “For the past four years, I’ve chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion,” she said. “My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate myself from anyone who challenged me.”

Hildebrandt, 54, also offered a statement, saying she desired for the children to “heal physically and emotionally”.

“One of the reasons I did not go to trial is because I did not want them to emotionally relive the experience which would have been detrimental to them. My hope and prayer is that they will heal and move forward to have beautiful lives,” she added.

The case has brought renewed attention to what is described as “sharenting”, or when parents broadcast and promote their parenting skills while aiming to make money from such a venture. Critics of the practice warn of the dangers of invading a child’s privacy and ethical violations.