Parenting advice YouTuber charged with child abuse amid torture claims

US

A former YouTuber who gave parenting advice online has been charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse after two of her six children were found to be abused and malnourished.

Ruby Franke, whose now-defunct 8 Passengers channel chronicled her family life, was arrested last week in US state of Utah at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt and taken into custody.

Hildebrandt, who owns a counselling business that she says teaches people to improve their lives, was also arrested on Wednesday and faces the same six abuse charges.

Prosecutors claim Franke and Hildebrandt either caused or allowed someone to torture Franke’s 12-year-old son and injure her 10-year-old daughter. Both children were starved and harmed emotionally, prosecutors said.

Both women are being held without the possibility of posting bail, court records said.

It comes after Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of a window and ran to a neighbour’s house asking for food and water, according to a court filing last week by the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.

According to the document, the neighbour saw duct tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists and called the police.

More on Utah

Housing developments are shown in Ivins, Utah, on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. A Utah woman who gave online parenting advice via a once popular YouTube channel has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated child abuse after her malnourished son escaped out a window and ran to a nearby house for help, authorities said. Ruby Franke, whose now defunct channel ...8 Passengers... followed her family, was arrested Wednesday night, Aug. 30, 2023, in the southern Utah city of Ivins. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
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Ivins, Utah. Pic: AP

Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was later found malnourished and was also taken to the hospital.

Speaking to Sky News’ US partner network NBC News, two of Franke’s neighbours said people in the community had previously alerted child services.

“Everyone is just breathing a collective sigh of relief because we thought they were going to come out of that house with body bags,” a male neighbour said.

While the children were found at Hildebrandt’s house, Franke had been seen on a YouTube video filmed at Hildebrandt’s house and posted two days earlier, indicating that Franke was present at the residence and had knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment and neglect, arrest records said.

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