WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
In September 2023, American vlogger Ruby Franke was arrested for allegedly torturing her children after one of her kids was able to escape the home and inform a neighbour of what was happening.
Less than four months later, the mum-of-six has admitted to torturing and abusing two of her children, her 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.
Ruby pleaded guilty in a Utah courtroom, admitting to four felony counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse.
“With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty,” she responded when asked by a judge how she would like to plead.
A guilty plea to child abuse
Ruby Franke is best known for her once-popular YouTube channel, 8 Passengers. The channel documented her family’s daily life with her six children – Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell and Eve and husband, Kevin.
Ruby has been criticised for her strict parenting philosophy which she didn’t hide from the cameras or her fans. But the mother’s inexcusable actions, in particular against two of her children, got her arrested earlier this year after her 12-year-old son managed to escape and inform a neighbour.
Ruby’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt has also pleaded guilty to child abuse. Ruby’s husband, Kevin, denies having any part in the abuse.
What did Ruby Franke do?
The disgraced mother, as well as Jodi, both admitted that they tortured Ruby’s 12-year-old son by making him work outdoors for hours from May 22 through August 30. The preteen was forced to work in the scorching US summer heat without water until he had “repeated and serious sunburns”, according to a court document, obtained by The New York Post.
Ruby also pleaded guilty to physically attacking the boy for hours. She admitted to kicking her son while wearing boots as well as holding his head underwater and placing her hands over his mouth to cut off his oxygen.
When the child tried to run away in July, Ruby bound his hands and feet.
Many times, the binding included two sets of handcuffs, one on [the child’s] wrists and one on his ankles. At times, with [the child] lying on his stomach, ropes were used to tie the two sets of handcuffs together so that his arms and lower legs were lifted off the ground,” according to a court document.
When she realised the injuries she caused her son, she refused to treat the wounds with anything but “homoeopathic remedies and covered with duct tape”.
Ruby also pleaded guilty to torturing her nine-year-old daughter, forcing her to complete physical tasks and denying her food and water.
She also told her two children that she was torturing them out of “love” and because they were both “evil and possessed”.
Disgraced mother sentenced to prison time
Ruby, as well as Jodi, WILL face prison time for their actions but it is unknown how long.
Ruby agreed to serve a prison term with the sentences running consecutively. Each charge carries a sentence of one to 15 years in prison. She will be back in court for sentencing on February 20.
‘Trying to tell police for years about this’
Instances of abuse have been going on for a while now with Ruby’s oldest daughter, Shari Franke confirming this has been the case. Shari Franke spoke out about her mum’s arrest back in September, stating that this type of abuse has been happening for years now.
Today has been a big day. Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up.”
Mistreatment on YouTube channel
Ruby’s actions on her YouTube channel also suggest this type of abuse has been going on for years. In 2020, Ruby received scrutiny that her parenting methods were far too harsh. Ruby and Kevin, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were accused of mistreating their children back then but no charges were laid.
After being told her methods were “abusive”, Ruby stopped sharing videos and turned to hosting a podcast with Jodi Hildebrandt. Her 8 Passengers channel has since been taken down and, since the charges were laid, Ruby has been permanently banned from the platform.
Jodi and Ruby’s podcast, “ConneXion” is also often scrutinised for being like a “cult” and for the frequent inclusion of what has been called homophobic, racist and transphobic comments.
Her parenting methods continue to be considered too strict and harsh. In one episode, Ruby shared that she believed children do not deserve and should not receive unconditional love.