Ruby Franke: YouTube 'parenting guru' admits four counts of child abuse after son fled home

Ruby Franke will be sentenced next year (AP)
Ruby Franke will be sentenced next year (AP)

A Utah mother who ran a YouTube channel with two million subscribers has pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse.

Ruby Franke, 41, came to a plea deal with prosecutors after allegations that she was starving and abusing her children.

She was arrested after her 12-year-old malnourished son escaped their Utah home and pleaded with a neighbour for food and water.

Franke said she pleaded guilty "with my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children".

She will testify against a former business partner and collaborator.

The former YouTube star wore a white and grey-striped jail jumpsuit as she entered her guilty plea in court on Monday.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on 20 February next year.

She was arrested in August at the home of her former business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, after her son's escape from the family home in Ivins, Utah.

Ms Hildebrandt, 54, was also arrested and charged with child abuse.

Franke appeared in YouTube videos posted by lifecoach Ms Hildebrand on her site, ConneXions Classroom.

In a statement a lawyer for Franke attempted cast blame on Ms Hildebrandt, alleging she had led Franke "astray".

"Over an extended period, Ms Hildebrandt systematically isolated Ruby Franke from her extended family, older children, and her husband, Kevin Franke," Winward Law said in the statement.

"This prolonged isolation resulted in Ms Franke being subjected to a distorted sense of morality."

Franke's son told officers that Ms Hildebrandt put ropes on his ankles and wrists before he escaped her home in August, according to court records.

The boy had to be taken to the hospital "due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment", officials said.

Franke's daughter was also found malnourished and taken to a hospital once authorities were involved. Four of her children were placed in state custody.

Franke became YouTube famous in 2015 for her channel called 8 Passengers that discussed the parenting of her all of her six children. The channel was deactivated earlier this year.

As her fame grew, Franke faced a backlash over her strict parenting measures. She described withholding meals as a disciplinary measure. Meanwhile her son claimed to have slept on a bean bag for months as a form of punishment.