Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1708694590

Ruby Franke’s family say she was ‘brainwashed’ as she’s sentenced over child abuse

’Momfluencer’ Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt both face up to 60 years in prison

Andrea Cavallier
Friday 23 February 2024 13:23 GMT
YouTuber Ruby Franke apologises to children as judge sentenced her to 60 years

Ruby Franke’s family wrote letters to a Utah judge ahead of the former vlogger’s sentencing over child abuse, saying that she was “deeply brainwashed” after meeting her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt.

“She was delusional. She was so deeply brainwashed we could not recognize her,” they wrote as they pleaded for mercy.

“During her career on YouTube, she often told me that her desire was to spread the message that ‘mothers are important and that mothers have strength in nurturing their children,’” Franke’s brother, Beau Griffiths, said in a written statement.

“I never had any concern for her and her children, and I was impressed with how generous and kind she has always been to my own children.”

“Many of the teachings from the Connexions program were reasonable and good,” his statement continued. “Unfortunately, as I later discovered, that is what made the program so dangerous.”

But the judge decided to give Franke, along with Hildebrandt, four consecutive prison terms for the child abuse charges they pleaded guilty to in December.

In a tearful statement made in court, Franke claimed she had been deceived by a “dark delusion.”

The mother-of-six was once a YouTube sensation, drawing in millions of subscribers to her channel where she offered parenting advice. But her reputation unravelled when she and Hildebrandt were arrested in August 2023 after one of Franke’s sons escaped Hildebrandt’s home.

In a harrowing 911 call, the neighbour said: “I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help.

“And he’s said he had just come from a neighbor’s house and we know there’s been problems at this neighbor’s house.”

The neighbour added: “He is emaciated. He’s got tape around his legs. He’s hungry and he’s thirsty.”

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

Franke and Hildebrandt have 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision.

Now, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will consider their behavior while incarcerated and determine how much of that time each will spend behind bars.

1708449128

Franke’s attorney says she was indoctrinated by Hildebrandt

Ruby Franke’s defence attorney says she was indoctrinated by her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt.

Ruby has unwrapped the layers of deceit and deception forced upon her by Jodi, the defence said.

The defence added that she is committed to doing the work.

“She is a delightful and respectful person.”

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 17:12
1708449325

Ruby Franke weeps as she speaks in court ahead of sentencing

“I was led to believe this world was an evil place filled with church leaders that lie and molest....and children who need abuse.  My choice to believe this led to criminal behavior.  Jodi Hildebrandt was never my business partner, she was my son’s counselor.”

Franke calls her children and her now ex-husband Kevin the loves of her life as she breaks down in tears.

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 17:15
1708450685

Franke sentenced on child abuse charges

Franke was sentenced to serve four counts of 1 to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to the child abuse charges last year.

Judge Walton sentenced her to four consecutive terms of 1 - 15 year for each of the second-degree felony aggravated child abuse she pled guilty to.

Per the court’s request, restitution is on hold with an eight-month deadline imposed by the court.

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 17:38
1708450847

Jodi Hildebrandt is now in the courtroom for her sentencing

The defence for Hildebrandt said: “My experience with Miss Hildebrandt is that she is not the person she has been portrayed to be.”

“She accepts responsibility and the consequences of her conduct.”

Hildebrandt then speaks: “I sincerely loved these children. One of the reasons I didn’t go to trial is I didn’t want them to relive this.”

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 17:40
1708451113

Judge tells Hildebrandt “you terrorized children’

Judge Walton spoke directly to Jodi Hildebrandt before imposing her sentence.

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

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 17:45
1708451618

Judge sentences Hildebrandt to four consecutive sentences

Ahead of her sentencing, the prosecutor began by saying that “Miss Hildebrandt has shown no remorse. She continues to blame the children (in jailhouse calls).”

The defense: “There are two sides to every case. There are many allegations regarding these two individuals. The only facts in this case are those set forth in the plea agreement.”

The judge spoke to Hildebrandt directly before imposing the same sentence as Franke.

Court was then adjouned.

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 17:53
1708459807

Ruby Franke’s brother claims ‘Jodi Hildebrandt was the catalyst’

Franke’s brother, Beau Griffiths, submitted a written statement claiming that Jodi Hildebrandt was the catalyst.

He was not in court on Tuesday.

“During her career on YouTube, she often told me that her desire was to spread the message that ‘mothers are important and that mothers have strength in nurturing their children,’” he wrote.

“I never had any concern for her and her children, and I was impressed with how generous and kind she has always been to my own children.”

“Many of the teachings from the Connexions program were reasonable and good,” his statement continued. “Unfortunately, as I later discovered, that is what made the program so dangerous.”

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 20:10
1708461607

Momfluencer became a different person after meeting Hildebrandt, her parents say

Ruby Franke’s parents provided a written statement prior to the sentencing on Tuesday that claimed she was a different person after she sought out a therapist to help one of her children.

That therapist was Jodi Hildebrandt, who became her mentor in 2020.

“We noticed a shift in Ruby’s thinking the summer of 2020 and by that fall she cut all ties to us, her siblings, and close friends,” her parents wrote.

“For three years what brief communications we had with her she accused us of either things that never happen or she grossly exaggerated the events that did. She was delusional. She was so deeply brainwashed we could not recognize her.”

Following her arrest, Franke became herself again, they said, writing that “she expressed her gratitude for being incarcerated and felt the mighty wakeup call was a huge blessing.”

“As her mother and father, we plead with you to show her as much mercy as you possibly can. Hopefully in time she will have a relationship with her children and they will remember the mother she once was to them and will find it in their hearts to forgive her, this would be the greatest healing balm of all for them.”

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 20:40
1708462983

Prosecutor said Ruby Franke’s children were in a ‘concentration camp-like setting’

Ahead of Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt’s sentencing hearings, prosecutor Eric Clarke said Franke’s children were in a “concentration camp-like setting.”

“The children were regularly denied food, water, beds to sleep in and virtually all forms of entertainment,” he said. "They were isolated from others and were hidden when people came to visit the house ... the children were forced to do physical tasks, like carrying ... boxes up and down stairs and wall sits or sitting against a wall without a chair or a stool for hours at a time.”

He continued: “They were also forced to do manual labor outdoors and in the extreme summer heat, at times without shoes or socks. They were forced to stand outside on a cement patio in the summer heat for hours, and even days at a time. They were beaten ... both children had extensive physical injuries from the abuse that required hospitalization when they were found. The injuries from the binding to the 12-year-old are particularly awful.”

“Had the older of the children not had the courage to run away and ask a neighbor to call the police, heaven only knows how much longer he could have survived in that situation.”

Just before Hildebrandt was sentenced, Mr Clarke said that while Franke had shown “considerable remorse” by agreeing to consecutive prison terms and being willing to cooperate with the state against Hildebrandt, he said Hildebrandt had "shown little to no remorse for her actions.”

“In telephone conversations that will be provided in full to the Board of Pardons and Parole — and which she knew to be recorded — she’s repeatedly claimed that she is the victim and the children are the perpetrators,” Mr Clarke said, adding that he believes Hildebrandt is a “significant threat to the community.”

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 21:03
1708464613

Full Story: Momfluencer Ruby Franke will serve up to 60 years in prison

Ruby Franke, a mother of six who used to give parenting advice to millions online, broke down in tears as she spoke to the court on Tuesday just before a Utah judge handed down four 1-15-year sentences in prison, one for each of the four counts of child abuse to which she pleaded guilty in December.

Her former business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, received the same sentence as Franke. They will serve their sentences consecutively, as determined by their plea agreements. 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.

On Tuesday, Franke shared a tearful apology to her children for physically and emotionally abusing them.

Read more:

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

The momfluencer and her business partner admitted to abusing her children

Andrea Cavallier20 February 2024 21:30

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in