YouTube mom Ruby Franke is jailed for up to 60 years on child abuse charges

Former YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke, a mother-of-six who used to give parenting advice to millions online, broke down in tears on Tuesday as she addressed the court, moments before a Utah judge sentenced her to up to 60 years in prison on child abuse charges.

Franke was handed four one to 15-year sentences in prison, one for each of the four counts of child abuse to which she pleaded guilty back in December.

Her former business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, received the same sentence as Franke.

They will now serve their sentences consecutively, as determined by their plea agreements. Under Utah law, the two women face four to 60 years in prison – a decision that will be made by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole at a later date.

Before the judge handed down the sentence, Franke gave a statement to the court in which she gave a tearful apology to her children for physically and emotionally abusing them.

“I’ll never stop crying for hurting your tender souls,” Franke said to her children, who were not at the hearing. “My willingness to sacrifice all for you was masterfully manipulated into something very ugly. I took from you all that was soft and safe and good.”

Franke told Judge Walton that she would not argue for a shorter sentence, before she thanked local police officers, doctors and social workers for being the “angels” who saved her children from her at a time that she claims she was under the influence of Hildebrandt.

“I was led to believe the world was an evil place,” Franke said. “For the past four years, I have chosen to follow counsel and guidance that have led me to a dark delusion.”

Jodi Hildebrandt and Ruby Franke were both sentenced on child abuse charges (Instagram/Moms of Truth)
Jodi Hildebrandt and Ruby Franke were both sentenced on child abuse charges (Instagram/Moms of Truth)

Franke and Hildebrandt had each pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse after the two women physically and emotionally abused Franke’s two youngest children.

Among the abuse, they sought to convince the children that they were evil, possessed and needed to be punished to repent.

Franke once ran a YouTube channel documenting her family’s life and giving online parental advice, drawing in millions of subscribers.

The now-deleted channel debuted back in 2015 and accumulated over two million subscribers before speculation began to mount in 2020 about the family’s activities.

Viewers were often concerned about her harsh parenting style, such as handing out punishments, including the withholding of food and Christmas presents.

But it was not until August 2023 that Franke and Hildebrandt were suddenly arrested for abusing her children.

The abuse allegations came to light after one of Franke’s sons escaped Hildebrandt’s home and fled to a neighbour’s home, who called 911. The 12-year-old boy was malnourished, had multiple open wounds and was bound with duct tape. Police then found another child also suffering abuse at the home.

The boy later told investigators that Hildebrandt would put cayenne pepper and honey on their wounds that were caused by being tied with the rope, according to arrest warrants.

Hildebrandt’s sentencing was held shortly after Franke’s on Tuesday.

The prosecution called Hildebrandt a “risk to the community” and said she had shown no remorse for her actions.

Hildebrandt gave a short statement insisting that “I sincerely love these children”.

“One of the reasons I didn’t go to trial is I didn’t want them to relive this. I desire for them to heal physically and emotionally,” she said.

Hildebrandt’s attorney Douglas Terry told the court: “My experience with Ms. Hildebrandt is she is not the person she has been portrayed to be.”

Judge Walton then spoke directly to Hildebrandt before imposing the sentence.

“This circumstance is largely of your making. Your conduct was disastrous for these children. In this case, you terrorised children,” the judge said.

In December, both women each pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse.