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Ruby Franke admits forcing her children to work in sun, withholding water and food

Ruby Franke speaks during a hearing in St. George’s 5th District Court on Monday. A once-popular YouTube vlogger, Franke pleaded guilty Monday to four of the six counts of aggravated child abuse filed against her. | Utah 5th District Court
ST. GEORGE, Utah — A little more than three months after being arrested and charged, popular YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke on Monday admitted to physically torturing her children.
A plea deal was announced Monday in St. George’s 5th District Court for the 41-year-old Springville mother of six who gained millions of followers with her “8 Passengers” YouTube channel, which was taken down earlier this year.
Franke pleaded guilty to four of the six charges of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony, originally filed against her in exchange for the other two being dismissed. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 20. The brief court hearing lasted only four minutes.
According to her statement filed in court in support of her guilty pleas, Franke admits to abusing two of her children, ages 9 and 11, in Washington County from May 22 until her arrest on Aug. 30.
RELATED | ‘8 Passengers’ mom, Ruby Franke and cohort Jodi Hildebrandt arrested for alleged child abuse
In her statement, Franke admits that her “actions involved the physical torture” of her son, according to court records.
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.
“Initially (the boy) was forced to do physical tasks for hours and days at a time. These included wall-sits, carrying boxes full of books up and down stairs, and working outside. Eventually (he) was forced to do outside labor without shoes and in the summer heat. He was forced ot stand in the direct sunlight for several days. He was forced to remain outside at all hours of the day and night for extended periods of time. These actions resulted in repeated and serious sunburns with blistered and sloughing skin,” Franke admitted to in her statement.
“(He) was denied adequate water for several of the days he was required to remain in the summer heat, and he was punished when he secretly consumed water. He was denied sufficient food, and when given food he was given very plain meals while others in the house ate regular and more flavorful meals. He was isolated from other people and denied all forms of entertainment, including books, notebooks, and electronics.”
She further admitted to handcuffing the boy’s wrists and ankles, kicking him while wearing boots, holding his head under water and “cutting off oxygen by placing her hands over his mouth and nose,” according to court records.
Furthermore, Franke “regularly sought to indoctrinate (the boy) and convince him that he was evil and possessed … and that the punishments were necessary to repent. He was also told that everything that was being done to him were acts of love,” the statement says.
Franke also admitted to causing severe emotional harm to her daughter and giving her the same treatment as her brother.
“She was isolated and forced to do the physical tasks, remain outside, and denied food and water. She was also repeatedly told she was evil and possessed, the punishments were necessary for her to be obedient and to repent, and these things were being done to her in order to help her. (She) was convinced that she was evil and needed to go through these things in order to repent,” according to the statement.
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The girl was also forced to walk barefoot outside in the heat, and forced to run barefoot on dirt roads “for extended periods of time,” according to Franke’s statement. Investigators say the girl’s feet were “repeatedly injured.”
Franke is the business partner of Jodi Nan Hildebrandt, 54, of Ivins, the founder of the Orem-based mental and emotional healing company Connexions Classroom, a company that says it helps people with addiction and mental health issues. Hildebrandt was also charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony.
Winward Law, who is representing Franke, issued a statement Friday in anticipation of the plea deal.
“During Ruby Franke’s incarceration in Washington County Jail over the past few months, she has actively engaged in an introspection that has allowed her to reset her moral compass and understand the full weight of her actions,” the statement reads, in part. “Ms. Franke is committed to taking responsibility for the part she played in the events leading up to her incarceration.”
They add that Franke has recently started to reach out to family members to apologize. Franke’s husband filed for divorce in November.
In her statement in support of her guilty plea on Monday, Franke agrees to “testify truthfully against Jodi Hildebrant,” in exchange for the Washington County Attorney’s Office remaining “neutral” at all future hearings before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
Also, as part of her plea deal, Franke “agrees to serve a prison term.” She faces a potential sentence of one to 15 years for each count of aggravated child abuse, which prosecutors will recommend be run consecutively, according to court documents.
Hildebrandt’s next court date had not been scheduled as of Monday.
The post Ruby Franke admits forcing her children to work in sun, withholding water and food appeared first on East Idaho News.

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