Ruby Franke has been sentenced to prison for child abuse.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of child abuse that may be distressing to some readers.

For years, Ruby Franke opened up her home to millions of curious strangers via the Internet, posting vlog-style videos about her family life and children.

Now, she has been sentenced to prison for it.

On February 20, Franke was sentenced to 4 to 60 years behind bars for child abuse. This comprises four sentences of 1 to 15 years, which will run consecutively.

Her ex-business partner Jodi Hildebrandt — who Franke claims directed the abuse — received the same sentence, after they both pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse.

For years, Franke documented every little detail of her family life via her now-defunct YouTube channel '8 Passengers' which referred to her six children, herself and her husband Kevin Franke. The family, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, had nearly 2.5 million subscribers at the channel's peak.  

Franke's parenting style shown on camera was strict, to say the least, with some critics suggesting she would chastise her children for doing very vague inappropriate behaviour.

There would be strange punishments and extreme reactions.

Franke spoke about threatening to cut the head off her daughter's stuffed toy to punish her for cutting things in the house. In another video, Franke and her husband told their two youngest children they would not be getting presents from Santa Claus because they weren't responding to punishment like being kept home from school and cleaning the floorboards.


Watch: The case explained. Post continues below.

Video via KSL News.

When two of her boys were play fighting, she told them if they continued they would "lose the privilege to eat dinner".

One of her eldest later recounted the moment when Franke took away his bed for seven months as a form of punishment. He was made to sleep on a beanbag.

Even when the kids expressed they didn't wish to be filmed or have a private conversation be part of their mother's vlogs, she would continue to film.

As the years went on, some of her eldest children moved out of home and began to distance themselves.

Petitions were also made by concerned followers, calling for child protective services to get involved based on the content Franke was publishing.

The channel was removed from YouTube in early 2023. Kevin continued to post on a separate, less popular channel.

In 2020, Franke took things a step further. She co-founded a parenting advice and support program called 'ConneXions,' alongside Jodi Hilderbrandt, who is a life coach and author.


ConneXions faced a significant amount of backlash, some suggesting it exerted "cult-like" characteristics. The program also promoted an extreme and harsh parenting style.

As ConneXions grew, Franke's kids were seen less and less online. But that made followers extra concerned given all they had already seen.


In August, it all reached a head when Franke and her business partner Hilderbrant were arrested at Hilderbrandt's house. 

According to an affidavit filed by the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department, one of Franke's children had climbed out of a window of Hildebrandt's residence and ran to a neighbour's house. Once there, the child had asked for food and water. 

Page Six reports that the neighbours had called the police after seeing remnants of duct tape on the child's hands and ankles. Arrest documents also stated that when police arrived, the child "appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds".

On September 1, 2023, both Franke and Hilderbrandt were charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse, after two of Franke's six children were found abused and malnourished, authorities said.

Prosecutors alleged Franke and Hildebrandt either caused or allowed someone to torture Franke's 12-year-old son and injure her 10-year-old daughter.

Two of Franke's other children were placed in the custody of child protection services, the affidavit said. 

The family's oldest daughter Shari Franke, now 20, went on social media following the arrest to post a photo of police officers on the scene. She captioned the Instagram story: "Finally."

Following Franke's arrest, her sisters – who have their own separate followings online – released a statement.


They said for the last three years they've kept quiet on the matter, but behind closed doors were trying to "make sure the kids were safe".

"Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority."

Shari Franke's response following her mother's arrest. Image: Instagram.


On December 18, Franke plead guilty to four of the six counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse against her, with two others having been dismissed. 

Franke and her attorney worked with prosecutors on a plea agreement in which she agreed to serve a prison sentence and to testify against Hildebrandt.

In court, Judge John J. Walton asked Franke if she had read the agreement carefully.

"Every word," she replied, per Fox 13 Salt Lake City.


"You don't need any more time?" the judge asked.

"I'm ready," Franke said.

Judge Walton then went over the four counts, to which Franke replied 'guilty' to each. However, on the final count, she said: "with my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty."

According to statements from Franke's lawyer, they placed the blame on Hildebrandt.

"Initially, Ms. Franke believed that Jodi Hildebrant had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement. Ms. Hildebrant took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous," her attorney statement said.

They claimed Hildebrant "systematically isolated Ruby Franke from her extended family, older children, and her husband, Kevin Franke. This prolonged isolation resulted in Ms. Franke being subjected to a distorted sense of morality, shaped by Ms. Hildebrandt’s influence."

Franke's husband, Kevin Franke, filed for divorce in November. His attorney Randy Kester stated that the couple had been separated for 13 months "at Ruby's directive".

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

This article was originally published on September 12, 2023 and has been updated.

Feature Image: YouTube.