April 24, 2024

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt sentenced to a minimum of 4 years in prison in child abuse case

Parenting of YouTuber Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, who pleaded guilty to child abuse charges stemming from one of Franke’s children escape from Hildebrandt’s house begging a neighbor for help in August have been convicted. Each could serve up to 30 years in prison, the prosecutor said after the hearing, the harshest sentence available under Utah law.

Franke has been sentenced to four consecutive prison terms, CBS News affiliate KUTV reported Tuesday, which could range from one to 15 years. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will determine the prison sentence, KUTV reported. Franke has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Hildebrandt received the same sentence of four consecutive prison terms, KUTV reported, each of which could again range from one to 15 years. Like Franke, Hildebrandt’s prison sentence will be determined by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.

Franke, who gave parenting advice on her now-defunct YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” and Hildebrandt, who operated a consulting business called ConneXions Classroom, were initially each charged with six counts of aggravated child molestation, a second-degree felony. Each count carried a possible prison sentence of one to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

As he read the sentencing recommendation, prosecutor Eric Clarke compared it the environment Franke’s children confronted with a “concentration camp-like environment,” and said Franke had “committed heinous acts of child abuse.” While addressing Hildebrandt’s allegations, Clarke called her a “significant threat” to the community.

Both women addressed the court before their sentencing, with Hildebrandt saying she would “submit to what the state determines is an appropriate amount of time served.” Franke admitted that she and Hildebrandt had caused “the injuries” to her children. She said she had “come to believe that this world is a bad place” and that Hildebrandt had never been her “business responsibility” but that she had paid the other woman to be her mentor. Franke also thanked the public safety officials who rescued her children, calling them “angels,” according to KUTV.

“My accusations are justified,” Franke said. “They provide safety for my family and accountability for the public.”

What did Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt do?

In December Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of child abuse and admitted to torturing her children, including the now 12-year-old boy who escaped from Hildebrandt’s home. In the plea deal, which included graphic details of abuse, Franke said her son was often kept tied up, and her nine-year-old daughter was forced to do manual labor outside in the hot sun, without water or shoes. Both children were often told that they were possessed and that their punishments were necessary to help them.

The boy told officials that Hildebrandt had tied him up and used home remedies to treat wounds caused by the restraints, according to court documents reviewed by KUTV.

As part of her plea deal, Franke agreed to serve a prison sentence and agreed that her sentences would run consecutively. She also agreed to testify against Hildebrandt.

Hildebrandt has also pleaded guilty, just days after Franke, to four cases of child abuse. Her plea agreement stated that she had tortured the children or had knowledge of the abuse. The agreement also stated that Hildebrandt “physically forced or coerced” Franke’s daughter to “jump into a cactus multiple times.”

The crimes were motivated by their religious beliefs, Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke said in a statement.

“This is a case about religious extremism. The defendants appear to have fully believed that the abuse they inflicted was necessary to teach the children how to properly repent of imagined ‘sins’ and to expel evil spirits from their bodies,” Clarke said. . “Hildebrandt frequently stated that God communicated directly with her and gave her direction. Franke accepted Hildebrandt as her leader and followed her instructions and guidance.”

Where is Ruby Franke’s family now?

Even before the charges, Franke was criticized on YouTube for her harsh punishments toward her children, including one time when she denied one of her children access to his bedroom for seven months for making fun of his younger brother. The YouTube channel, which started in 2015, ended after seven years.

Franke’s husband, Kevin Franke, has filed for divorce. In early September, an attorney for Kevin Franke told CBS News that he was looking out for his client’s best interests by keeping his children together and in his care and that he could not comment on Ruby Franke’s arrest.

Kevin Franke appeared in court on Friday along with Franke’s two eldest children. Speaking from the stand, Franke apologized to her former husband. “You are the love of my life,” she said, according to KUTV. “The end of our marriage is a tragedy.”

Franke’s parents and brother both filed statements with the court prior to her sentencing Tuesday, blaming Hildebrandt’s influence for her actions. Franke’s brother Beau Griffiths said he was also enrolled in Hildebrandt’s ConneXions program.

“With constant encouragement from Ms. Hildebrandt, Ruby systematically pushed away those around her, first myself, and then our sisters, parents and close friends, and then her husband, and finally her own children,” Griffiths said in part. ‘Ruby has clearly been brainwashed. Mrs Hildebrandt took advantage of her.’

Franke’s sisters, Julie Griffiths Deru and Bonnie Hoellein, themselves YouTubers, shared videos with details Franke’s separation from the family and stated that they were unaware of her actions.

Franke’s parents, Chad and Jennifer Griffiths, said in their statement to the court that they had only “brief communication” with their daughter for three years, in which she “accused us of things that would never happen, or that they did not understand the events that happened.” what happened was grossly exaggerated. ”

“She was delusional,” they said, according to KUTV. “She was so deeply brainwashed that we couldn’t recognize her.”

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