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Shark Attack

Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

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Family Vlogger Gone Wrong

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Pool/KUTV

Former YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke of the former YouTuber channel “8Passengers” was sentenced to four terms of 1-15 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. She’s not the only one who was also sentenced; Franke’s old ‘business’ partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, has the same sentence. 

The pair were first arrested on August 30th, 2023, and were both charged with six counts of abuse. This arrest came after Franke’s youngest son escaped Hildebrandt’s house, ran to a neighbor’s house, and pleaded with them to call the police. According to the neighbors, he looked very malnourished, with duct tape around his ankles and wrists. After they were arrested, both the boy and Franke’s youngest daughter were rushed to the hospital. Eventually, the four youngest children were taken into state custody, with the two older ones being of age. Later, investigators learned that Hildebrandt had put ropes on the youngest boy’s ankles and wrists and later would use cayenne pepper and honey to dress the wounds caused by the ropes. According to Mount Sinai, Cayenne pepper shouldn’t be applied to any cracked skin or open wounds; even if used for medical purposes, it should be used scarcely. Ruby Franke admitted later to forcing her youngest son to do hours of physically demanding tasks such as wall sits, carrying heavy boxes up and down stairs, other demanding tasks without water, and repeated sunburns that would blister. She also admitted to kicking him with her boots and attempting to convince him that he was “evil and possessed” and that he needed to repent.

Ruby Franke’s Ex-Husband and Children (moms_of_truth/Instagram)

These charges aren’t the only questionable things that the Vlogger has been seen doing throughout the years. Throughout the last few years, the YouTuber had posted some dubious parenting choices on her “8Passengers” channel that raised many people’s eyebrows, some even creating and signing a petition for Child Protective Services to investigate the family. One video that raised eyebrows was when Franke’s oldest son, Chad Franke, talked about his mother taking his bed away from him for playing a prank on one of his younger siblings. He said, “I was sleeping on a beanbag since October,” when the video was filmed in May, meaning he was sleeping on the beanbag for around seven months. Later, Franke would send that same son to a wilderness therapy camp, the same camp that Paris Hilton had been advocating against for the past several years. Survivors of these camps have recalled being stripped of their personalities, spending almost all day in the forest, hiking until their feed bled, being malnourished after they were only able to eat dehydrated food, sleeping in a plastic tarp, and only being able to bathe with a bucket of water and a sponge. Another appalling situation is when Franke filmed herself explaining that she had received a message from her youngest daughter’s teacher that she didn’t have lunch. The eyebrow-raising part came when Franke refused to bring her daughter lunch since the then six-year-old forgot to pack her lunch, using this as a teaching moment. She later says that her daughter is “just going to be hungry” and “Hopefully nobody gives her food and nobody steps in and gives her a lunch because then she’s not going to learn from the natural outcome.” 

In 2015, Ruby Franke and her at-the-time husband, Kevin Franke, launched their YouTube Channel “8 Passengers,” documenting their family life and posting on the channel consistently for a few years. Eventually, Ruby Franke stopped posting on her channel and joined Jodi Hildebrandt’s “ConneXions” podcast, a podcast where it showed Franke downplaying eating disorders, blaming rape victims, and criticizing U.S. immigrants.

Franke and Hildebrandt created a new page called “Moms of Truth,” where they shared their controversial parenting styles. Jodi Hildebrandt, a life coach, therapist, and author from Utah, also pleaded guilty to four counts of child abuse. She admitted to knowing of the abuse in her house and allowed it to continue, and later states she not only aided Franke in abusing the children but even partaking in it by herself. Former patients of Hildebrandt described the sessions as “cyberbullying,” and her niece even described being restrained and duct-taped along with being forced to sleep outside.

Ruby Franke, right, and Jodi Hildebrandt, left (@moms_of_truth via Instagram)

The niece even believes that “The philosophies and the therapeutic modalities that she is using are Jodi’s, and these are not new. This is a pattern” regarding Ruby Franke’s behavior. When Franke was agreeing to a plea deal, her attorneys blamed Hildebrandt for taking advantage of her and influencing her to abuse her children. Franke’s attorneys stated that Hildebrandt isolated Franke from all of her family and used this to manipulate her to harm her kids. At court, Ruby Franke expressed her regret for what she had done and said, “I will never stop crying for hurting your tender souls,” as she apologized continuously to them for all the abuse she had inflicted on them. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will decide each prison sentence, but she will not serve more than 30 years due to Utah law.

Do you believe Ruby Franke was taken advantage of by Jodi Hildebrandt, or did she do it without the influence of others?

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About the Contributor
Kendall Hutchinson, Staff Writer
Kendall Hutchinson (12) is a senior in her first year of journalism. She plans on attending a four year where she’ll study either history or political science. After, she hopes to go to law school and become a lawyer to help people. Kendall enjoys reading different books and even the news, which piqued her interest in helping others. Over the summer Kendall participated in a week-long program that focused on different social issues and how to bring awareness to them. She realizes that her future as a lawyer will be a lot of work but is willing to work for the outcome. Over the summer, she also was able to travel to South Korea and wants to continue to travel after high school, learning about different countries and their cultures around the world. You can contact Kendall at [email protected]
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    Tina NgoApr 8, 2024 at 11:03 am

    Reading this I felt as if you were extremely well-informed! I used to watch this family vlog channel growing up and reading about what was going on, on and off camera, truly breaks my heart and feel for these kids. I think it’s a really important topic to write about especially since there are so many family vlog channels.

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  • A

    Abby DelgadoMar 11, 2024 at 12:39 pm

    Very interesting topic, I think this topic is very important and your article is well-informed. I completely agree where your point that RUby Franke committed a horrible act. I wonder what happened to Jody Hildebrandt.

    Reply