A full timeline of events surrounding YouTuber Ruby Franke’s arrest on child abuse charges
Two of Franke’s children were found severely malnourished, with deep lacerations and external wounds
Ruby Franke, a debunked family YouTuber, has been arrested on charges related to alleged child abuse. Franke first made headlines almost 10 years ago for her controversial parenting advice and disciplinary measures that she posted on her YouTube channel, 8 Passengers, featuring her husband and their six children.
Since her arrest, Franke’s family, including her siblings and daughter, have made several statements about the situation, including that the arrest “needed to happen.” Here’s what we know so far about Ruby Franke, the circumstances behind her arrest, and the charges brought against her.
Who is Ruby Franke?
Ruby Franke and her husband, Kevin, launched her family Youtube channel, 8 Passengers, in 2015, where she shared advice and the parenting of her six children – Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell and Eve. The channel gained over 2.2 million subscribers before it was removed earlier this year.
Franke received significant backlash and concerned viewers with her strict disciplinary measures described on her vlogs, including her son claiming he was banned from his bedroom and slept on a bean bag for seven months as punishment. Franke also explained on her channel how she withheld her children’s meals as another measure of punishment.
In recent years, Franke began working as a mental health coach at ConneXions, a company run by counsellor Jodi Nan Hildebrant. Franke and Hildebrant have appeared in videos and often worked on parenting classes together.
Hildebrant’s licence to work as pornography-addiction therapist was previously placed on probation for 18 months in early 2012 after discussing her patient’s private medical information with leaders at their Mormon Church without their permission. Hildebrandt’s lawyer at the time said in a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune that her license was “active and her practice has and will continue without interruption.”
Franke’s neighbours shared their concerns about the family
Franke’s neighbours are reportedly not surprised to see a swarm of police outside the former YouTuber’s home, with a male neighbour explaining to NBC News that “everyone is just breathing a collective sigh of relief because we thought they [law enforcement] were going to come out of that house with body bags.”
Neighbours have accused Franke of frequently involving herself in their lives, giving one a lecture for having photos of women modelling in shorts hanging inside their garage. They also claimed to NBC News that Franke punished her children by withholding food and cancelling Christmas one year as punishment for “not repenting correctly.”
Despite Franke’s extreme control and parenting measures, neighbours alleged that she would regularly disappear for weeks, leaving the children home alone to look after themselves.
A neighbour explained to Rolling Stone: “In early 2022, it started getting weird” when Ruby “completely stopped her Youtube stuff” as “it just kind of turned dark. She [Franke] taped up paper over all of her windows. She would disappear for weeks at a time, and there’s all these little kids just left alone in this house.”
Eve, her youngest daughter, would allegedly be left alone and wander the neighbourhood to look for friends “like a lost child” who clearly “wasn’t enrolled in school”, reportedly knocking on doors and asking if neighbours kids could play and responding with “I’ll wait” after being told they would not be home for “three or four hours.”
Ruby Franke arrested on six child abuse charges
Ruby Franke was arrested, along with Hildebrant in Ivins, Utah, on Wednesday, August 30th, and each were charged with six counts of child abuse on Friday.
The charges against the two women stem from the alleged physical abuse, malnutrition and severe emotional harm of two children, with each count carrying a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000 (£7,940), according to Washington County Officials.
Officers explained that Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of an open window in their family home and ran to a neighbour’s house to ask for food and water. The boy was transported to hospital “due to his deep lacerations” and malnourishment.
After searching Franke’s residence, officers found a 10-year-old girl in a “similar physical condition of malnourishment” who was also “transported by EMS to the hospital for treatment.”
According to a statement posted to Facebook by the Santa-Clara Ivins Public Safety Department, “the calling party [the neighbour] stated the juvenile appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities.”
The statement also explains that “upon arrival, law enforcement observed the wounds and the malnourishment of [the boy] to be severe.”
Franke’s family members respond to her arrest
On Thursday, Franke’s sisters, Ellie Mecham, Bonnie Hoellien and Julie Deru, also family content creators, released a statement to their respective Instagram accounts explaining they had kept quiet on the subject of child abuse for the last three years to protect the safety of and “for the sake of her [Ruby’s] children.”
The post explains that “behind the public scene, we [Franke’s sisters] have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe” and that they “wouldn’t feel right about moving forward with regular content without addressing the most recent events.”
Mecham, Hoellien and Deru made clear they are all on the same page, stating that “Ruby was arrested, which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested, which needed to happen” and that the “kids are now safe, which is the number one priority.”
Bonnie Hoellien also insisted in an emotional, now private, YouTube video that the family did “as much as we could” to protect Franke’s six children from the alleged abuse and that she [Hoellien] and her siblings could not “have really anticipated” the arrest.
Hoellien explained the family “have truly clung onto each other, offering support to one another” and have “all did as much as we could legally, and you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Franke’s eldest daughter, Shari, who cut ties with her family in September of last year, also spoke out about the news, having publicly criticised her parents in the past, posting a picture of a police car to her Instagram Stories on Wednesday with the caption “Finally.”
Although none of Franke’s other children have made statements about Ruby Franke being arrested, her husband has been spotted pacing outside the poverty on Saturday as a man came to the property to remove the Youtube branding from the van parked outside.