‘8 Passengers’ parenting mum arrested on child abuse suspicion
A woman from Utah, known for her popular YouTube channel offering parenting advice, is now facing child abuse charges after her undernourished son managed to escape from their home, as reported by authorities.
Ruby Franke, along with her business partner Jodi Nan Hildebrandt, was arrested in Ivins, Utah this week. Officials discovered that Ms. Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was also in a malnourished condition at her partner’s residence.
On Friday, both women were formally charged with six counts of child abuse. The BBC has attempted to contact Ms. Franke and Ms. Hildebrandt for their statements on the matter.
According to the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department, the incident unfolded when Ms. Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped through a window and sought help from a neighbor, pleading for food and water. The neighbor reported that the child seemed severely emaciated, had open wounds, and had duct tape around his limbs.
Upon the arrival of law enforcement, the severity of the boy’s wounds and malnourishment was evident. Due to his deep lacerations from being bound with rope and his severe malnourishment, the boy had to be transported to the hospital for immediate medical attention.
Ms. Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was also taken to the hospital for medical evaluation.
Subsequently, authorities obtained a search warrant related to the incident, resulting in the removal of all four children involved, who were then placed under the care of family and child services, as outlined in the statement.
On Friday, Washington County officials in Utah formally charged Ms. Franke and Ms. Hildebrandt.
The charges stem from the alleged abuse of two children in three different ways: physical abuse, malnutrition, and severe emotional harm.
Each count carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000 (£7,940), Washington County officials said.
Ms Franke, 41, became YouTube famous in 2015 for her channel called 8 Passengers which discussed the parenting of her six children.
The channel gained over 2 million subscribers before it was deactivated earlier this year.
The vlogger has faced a backlash in the past for her strict parenting measures described on the channel, including her son claiming he slept on a bean bag for several months as punishment and Ms. Franke describing withholding meals as another disciplinary measure.
The bean bag incident led some viewers to call local child protective services, though Ms Franke claimed to Insider the incident had been taken out of context.
She has also appeared in YouTube videos posted by Ms. Hildebrandt – a counselor and life coach – on her site, ConneXions Classroom.
In one such video posted on 10 May 2022, Ms Franke described herself as Ms Hildebrandt’s “side-kick” and questioned why so many children were suffering from depression.
“I never expected my second-grader to come home and say so-and-so has anxiety and so-and-so has depression,” she said. “Something is off. This isn’t right.”
In a second video – entitled “guiding children to truth” – Ms Hildebrandt called on mothers “to understand that principles are necessary” for children to have a “calm and peaceful” life.
According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, Ms. Hildebrandt was put on probation for 18 months and nearly lost her license to be a pornography addiction therapist after publicly discussing a patient without his permission.
Ms Franke’s eldest daughter Shari Franke shared a post on Instagram after her mother’s arrest, saying that she and her family “are so glad justice is being served”, US media reported.
“We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up,” she reportedly said.
Ms. Franke has requested an attorney and did not speak to officers, according to the Associated Press. That attorney had not publicly been identified on Thursday.