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Infamous mommy vlogger Ruby Franke sentenced to up to 60 years for child abuse

At her sentencing hearing, the mom influencer apologized to her children, adding, “I was so disoriented that I believed dark was light and right was wrong.”


Ruby Franke, a once-popular online mom influencer with millions of followers, has been sentenced to four one- to 15-year terms in prison for child abuse.

Franke pleaded guilty in December to four counts of aggravated abuse against her children. She and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, had each been charged with six counts of felony child abuse in September.

Utah Judge John J. Walton sentenced both to four one- to 15-year terms on Tuesday, but state law limits the maximum aggregate sentence for consecutive terms to 30 years. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will determine the length of time they will spend behind bars, NBC News reported.

For years, the 42-year-old mother documented her strict parenting style with her husband Kevin Franke and her six children on her YouTube channel, “8 Passengers.” She and Hildebrandt also doled out parenting advice in videos.

Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested in August 2023 after one of the children escaped Hildebrandt’s home and went to a neighbor’s house asking for food and water. Police said the child, who appeared emaciated and malnourished, had duct tape on his wrists and ankles, as well as open wounds that had been treated with cayenne pepper and honey.

At her sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Franke addressed her children between tears, calling them her “six little chicks” and apologizing.

“I can see now that over the past four years, I was in a deep undercurrent that led us to danger,” she said. “I was so disoriented that I believed dark was light and right was wrong.”

Franke’s extreme parenting style had alarmed followers even before her arrest. Viewers expressed concerns about her threats to deprive her children of food as a form of punishment, and in 2020, viewers called local child protective services after her teen son said in a video that he had slept on a beanbag for seven months.

But the reality was much worse behind the scenes. As The Associated Press reported:

Franke admitted in her plea agreement to kicking her son while wearing boots, holding his head under water and closing off his mouth and nose with her hands. She and Hildebrandt said they also forced the boy into hours of physical labor in the summer heat without much food or water, causing dehydration and blistering sunburns.

Hildebrandt admitted to coercing Franke’s youngest daughter, who was 9 at the time, to jump into a cactus multiple times and run barefoot on dirt roads until her feet blistered.

Franke’s case has been held up as an example of the dark underbelly of the mommy vlogging world and the toll exacted on children who cannot consent to their lives being shared with millions of people online.