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‘8 Passengers’ mom Ruby Franke, partner Hildebrant to spend years, maybe decades in prison

ST. GEORGE, Utah ( — Almost six months after her son escaped from Jodi Hildebrandt’s home to call 911 from a neighbor’s home, Ruby Franke was sentenced to prison Tuesday for abusing her two youngest children. Hildebrant, Franke’s business parter, will also spend time behind bars.
Fifth District Judge John Walton issued four sentences of one to 15 years in prison on four counts of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony, for both Franke and Hildebrandt. He said serving the sentences consecutively is appropriate, meaning each woman will serve between four and 60 years.
Franke, 42, of Springville admitted to four of the six charges against her on Dec. 18 as part of a plea deal, admitting to abusing her children who were ages 9 and 11 from May 22 until her arrest on Aug. 30.
At her sentencing, Franke said she was led to believe the world was evil, and her choice to believe the paranoia led to her criminal acts. She thanked the police, and called them “angels” for saving her children.
“The moment (an officer) handcuffed me was the moment I gained my freedom,” she said.
Franke talked about her family, her husband and her children and apologized to them. She said she would do anything for her children, and can see now she was leading them to danger.
“I take full accountability for my choices, and it is my preference that I serve a prison sentence,” Franke said.
The mom gained millions of followers on her “8 Passengers” YouTube channel about her family. The channel was taken down in 2023.
Franke admitted in her plea statement that her actions involved physically torturing her son, requiring him to do physical tasks like wall sits and carrying boxes full of books, physically restraining her son, holding her son’s head underwater, forcing her children to stand in direct sunlight resulting in serious sunburns, forcing her daughter to walk barefoot outside, and denying both children adequate water and food.
The plea statement said Franke sought to convince her children they were evil and possessed, and the punishments were necessary for their repentance.
Franke was arrested after her son climbed out of a window in Ivins and ran to a neighbor’s home seeking food and water. Investigators said they later discovered that the boy had been tied to the ground before escaping.
Hildebrant sentenced
Hildebrandt, 54, who is Franke’s business partner and founder of Orem-based mental health company Connexious Classroom, pleaded guilty to the same charges. She received the same sentence from Walton including consecutive sentences, on Tuesday.
She said her “hope and prayer” is that the children move forward and live beautiful lives.
“I sincerely love these children,” Hildebrandt said before being sentenced.
Walton said she “terrorized” the children, and as an adult figure with specialized training, she should have protected them.
“What happened to these children and your philosophy in dealing with them frankly seems detached from reality or any objective standard of decency, or even common sense,” the judge said.
The post ‘8 Passengers’ mom Ruby Franke, partner Hildebrant to spend years, maybe decades in prison appeared first on East Idaho News.

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