Ruby Franke and her business partner were charged with 6 felonies each after the YouTuber's 12-year-old son climbed through a window to get help for himself and his 10-year-old sister

  • YouTuber Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were arrested and charged with child abuse.

  • The arrest followed the escape of Franke's 12-year-old son, who authorities said was malnourished.

  • Police also said Franke's malnourished 10-year-old daughter was found in Hildebrandt's home.

Ruby Franke, a Utah mother of six who rose to fame and then notoriety for her controversial parenting vlogs, was charged with six felony child abuse counts after her Wednesday arrest, with police detailing her son's harrowing escape from the home of his mom's business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt.

On Friday the county attorney in Washington County, Utah, announced the six formal charges against Franke and Hildebrandt, saying the counts relate to two of Franke's children, 10 and 12 years old. Insider is not naming the children as they are minors.

"Each defendant is accused of causing or permitting serious physical injury to the victims in three different ways: (1) a combination of multiple physical injuries or torture, (2) starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life, and (3) causing severe emotional harm," the county attorney said in a statement shared with Insider Friday. Each of the six counts carries a possible prison sentence of one to fifteen years and a fine up to $10,000, the Washington County Attorney's office said.

Hildebrandt, who ran the recently-removed parenting YouTube channel ConneXions with Franke, was also charged with six felony child abuse counts, per the indictments shared with Insider Friday.

In a probable cause affidavit shared with Insider and dated Wednesday, authorities said Franke's 12-year-old son climbed out a window of Hildebrandt's home and ran to a neighbor's house. The child knocked on the door and asked for food and water, according to documents.

The neighbors saw the boy had duct tape on his ankles and called police, the affidavit said. Law enforcement arrived on the scene and observed "severe" wounds on the child whom they said appeared malnourished.

The 12-year-old was taken to a hospital where he was placed on medical hold because of deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and malnourishment, the affidavit said.

Law enforcement then visited Hildebrandt's residence where they discovered another child, Franke's 10-year-old daughter who was also malnourished, officials said.

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt on their YouTube channel ConneXions.
Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt on their YouTube channel ConneXions.Screenshot / ConneXions YouTube Channel

The arresting officer wrote that one of Ruby Franke's YouTube videos was filmed in Hildebrandt's home two days prior to the 12-year-old's escape, suggesting the children's mother was aware of the "abuse, malnourishment, and neglect." The charge was enhanced to a second-degree felony as a result.

Authorities said Franke did not speak with police upon her arrest, and instead requested an attorney. She is being held without bail in Washington County, according to court documents. Her attorney did not respond to Insider's request for comment. It was not immediately clear who is representing Hildebrandt.

The Department of Child and Family Services took four of Franke's children into custody following the arrest, according to the affidavit. Franke's eldest daughter, Shari Franke, 20, is estranged from her family and celebrated her mother's arrest.

An Ivins, Utah resident who lives near the Franke family told Rolling Stone that he and other neighbors called authorities several times on Franke out of concern for the children. The unnamed resident said there seemed to be weeks at a time where the kids were left at home without a parent.  Neighbors reached by Insider Thursday declined to comment on the goings on at the house over the past several months.

"In early 2022, it started getting weird," the neighbor told Rolling Stone "People were concerned because Ruby completely stopped her YouTube stuff. And then it just kind of turned dark. She taped up paper over all of her windows. She would disappear for weeks at a time and there's all these little kids just left alone in this house."

Franke was once the face of the popular 8 Passengers YouTube channel, where she documented her life alongside her husband Kevin Franke, and their six children. The channel once had approximately 2.5 million subscribers, but allegations of parental wrongdoing long hung over the Franke family, and the channel was taken offline earlier this year.

The family pushed back against the allegations at the time, telling Insider's Lindsay Dodgson in 2020 that they gave their children "choices" and were trying to teach the kids about the consequences of their actions.

In June 2022, Franke announced she was creating a new channel called ConneXions with Hildebrandt, a therapist whose license was put on probation in 2012 for 18 months after she discussed a patient's alleged "porn addiction" with elders at the Mormon church without the patient's permission, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

A spokesperson for YouTube told Insider that the company terminated two channels linked to Franke in accordance with its creator responsibility guidelines.

Read the original article on Insider