YouTuber Ruby Franke sentenced after pleading guilty to counts of aggravated child abuse. Here’s what to know about the case.

Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court Tuesday in St. George, Utah. (Sheldon Demke/St. George News via AP, Pool)

On Tuesday, former YouTube “momfluencer” Ruby Franke was sentenced to up to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child abuse last year. Franke’s business partner and co-host for parenting advice videos, Jodi Hildebrandt, also pleaded guilty to child abuse and was given the same sentence.

Here’s everything you need to know about the case.

⚖️ What happened in court?

Utah state prosecutor Eric Clarke described the environment Franke’s children lived in as a “concentration camp-like setting” and said that Franke “committed horrible acts of child abuse.”

At her sentencing on Tuesday, Franke said she takes “full accountability” for her choices, and Judge John J. Walton sentenced her to four one- to 15-year terms. However, Utah state law limits the aggregate maximum of consecutive sentences to 30 years.

For more on what happened in court, read more from the Associated Press

▶️ What was Ruby Franke’s ‘8 Passengers’ YouTube channel about?

Franke ran a YouTube channel called “8 Passengers” from her Utah home for almost 10 years. The blog-style videos documented the lives of Franke, her husband, Kevin, and their six children. The account no longer exists, but at its peak, it had 2.5 million subscribers.

🚨 What was Ruby Franke accused of doing?

Rumors and allegations of child abuse swirled in the comments section of her YouTube videos as far back as 2020. Viewers raised concerns over Franke’s punishments of her kids, which included refusing to bring her 6-year-old daughter’s lunch to school after she forgot it and excluding her then-8-year-old and 10-year-old kids from Christmas one year.

📅 When were Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt arrested?

On Aug. 30, 2023, Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped Hildebrandt’s house and asked a neighbor for some food and water. The neighbor noticed the child looked malnourished and had open wounds and called the police. The police investigated Hildebrandt’s home and found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter in a similar condition. Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on Aug. 31.

Franke and Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse in December 2023.

👥 Who is Jodi Hildebrandt and what was her involvement?

In 2022, Franke brought on Hildebrandt, the founder of ConneXions, a Utah-based life coaching brand, to collaborate on camera for the channel. The two co-hosted conversations about parenting life and offered advice that raised red flags for viewers, such as how exerting total control over children is the best way to show love and that children do not deserve privacy.

👪 Did other family members know what Ruby Franke was doing?

Franke’s husband, Kevin, claimed he did not have “any reason to believe that his children were being abused” and said the couple had been separated since 2022. He filed for divorce in November 2023.

Franke’s eldest daughter, who is 20, posted “Finally” on her Instagram Story following her mom’s arrest in August 2023. Ellie Mecham, Julie Griffiths Deru and Bonnie Hoellein, who all identify as Franke’s sisters, posted a shared Instagram statement following Franke’s arrest saying they’d intentionally stayed “quiet on the subject of our sister” for the last three years.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the sentencing in this case. The maximum sentencing in Utah for these charges may not exceed 30 years.