Ruby Franke’s YouTube channel shared parenting advice with millions. She just pleaded guilty to child abuse

Ruby Franke’s YouTube channel shared parenting advice with millions. She just pleaded guilty to child abuse

(CNN) — 

Ruby Franke shared parenting advice with millions of people on her family YouTube channel.

On the now defunct channel, “8 Passengers,” she chronicled life with her six children and husband in Ivins, Utah. She posted videos of some of the ways she punished her children, such as withholding food from them and banning her son from his room for months, as some resurfaced clips and reports indicated.

Behind the scenes, investigators said, she abused her children and tried to convince them that they were evil and possessed. Court documents from Monday detailed some of the abuse two of her children suffered, including Franke kicking her son while wearing boots, holding his head underwater, and also depriving him of oxygen by covering his mouth and nose with her hands. She told her children the punishments were needed for them to be obedient and repent, according to court documents.

Franke pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of aggravated child abuse. “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty,” she said in court as part of a plea deal.

Franke’s attorneys said she’s had time to think and “reset her moral compass” while detained in Washington County, and is taking accountability for her role in the abuse.

“Demonstrating a sincere dedication to personal growth and rehabilitation, she has actively begun the process by reaching out to members of her family… to mend relationships and contribute positively to the healing journey,” her attorneys said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate KUTV. CNN has also reached out to her attorney, Winward Law, for further comment.

Son escaped from home, police say

Franke, 41, was initially charged with six counts, but pleaded not guilty to two of the counts as part of a plea deal to testify against her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, who also faces charges of aggravated child abuse, prosecutors said.

The state will dismiss the two other counts of child abuse against Franke. She’ll be sentenced in February, and will serve a prison term for the four counts that will run consecutively, prosecutors said.

“In return the Washington County Attorney’s Office agrees to remain neutral regarding future hearings before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole,” the agreement added.

Ruby Franke, 41, was famous for her now-deleted "8 Passengers" YouTube channel. She was arrested in August.

Franke “intentionally or knowingly inflicted and allowed another adult to inflict serious physical injuries” on her children ages 9-12 between May and August, court documents said.

She was arrested in August after her 12-year-old son ran away from home and asked a neighbor to call police, the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department said. He appeared malnourished, and asked for food and water, according to authorities. He also had open wounds and duct tape on his wrists and ankles.

In a  statement in support of her guilty plea, investigators detailed some of the torture the children faced.

“The defendant and another adult regularly sought to indoctrinate RF (Franke’s son) and convince him that he was evil and possessed,” the statement said. “And that he needed to willingly be obedient to avoid punishments. And that the punishments were necessary to repent. He was also told that everything that was being done to him were acts of love.”

Franke’s daughter was also subjected to similar abuse. She was denied food and water, and forced to work barefoot in the summer heat, leaving her with scabs and blisters on her feet, according to court documents.

“EF … was isolated and forced to do the physical tasks, remain outside, and … repeatedly told she was evil and possessed, the punishments were necessary for her to be obedient and to repent,” court documents said.

In the plea agreement, Franke confessed to torturing her children between May and August. She detailed how she forced her children to work outdoors in the heat without enough water, denied them food and alienated them by cutting off their access to books and electronics.

In July, her son tried to run away, but his hands and feet were either handcuffed or tied to weights. Injuries to his hands were treated at home and covered with duct tape, according to court documents.

Franke’s four minor children were taken into the care of the Department of Child and Family Services, the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department said, while YouTube deleted the “8 Passengers” channel shortly after her arrest. Franke’s husband filed for divorce last month, as KUTV reported.


Faith Karimi, Ruby Franke’s YouTube channel shared parenting advice with millions. She just pleaded guilty to child abuse. CNN.

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