Former Parenting Youtuber Ruby Franke and Ex-Business Partner Sentenced to Prison for Child Abuse

In back-to-back hearings Tuesday, Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt were sentenced to 4 to 60 years behind bars after four convictions each of aggravated child abuse

After the 12-year-old Utah boy tried to run away in July, his mother, vlogger Ruby Franke, bound his hands and feet with two sets of handcuffs.

The momfluencer further admitted in a 10-page plea agreement reviewed by PEOPLE that she had kicked her son, Russell, held his head under water and covered his mouth and nose with her hands so he could not breathe.

On Tuesday, Ruby received four separate prison sentences for 1 to 15 years, which will run consecutively, according to TODAY, KSL 5 and KUTV. The length of each prison sentence will ultimately be decided by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, according to Utah’s Deseret News. However, The women will not serve more than 30 years due to a Utah law regarding consecutive sentences, Business Insider reports.

Therapist and Ruby’s ex-business partner Jodi Hildebrandt – who Ruby claims directed the abuse – received the same sentence as Ruby, according to the outlets, after they both pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse.

Both women signed plea agreements to the four second-degree felonies in December, acknowledging their roles in the abuse and relinquishing their right to appeal their convictions.

A Timeline of Ruby Franke’s Rise and Fall: From Family Vlogger to Convicted Child Abuser
Under the plea agreement, two more charges of aggravated child abuse for each woman were dropped, Tania Mashburn, a spokeswoman for Utah State Courts, confirms to PEOPLE.
At a December hearing in which Ruby – cuffed and dressed in gray and white prison garb – pleaded guilty to the remaining charges, she paused on the fourth charge, per CBS News.

Taking a deep breath, per the outlet, she shut her eyes and said: “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty.”

Former Family Vlogger Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse: Reports
Around that time, Winward Law, the firm representing her, issued a statement to CBS News, alleging that Ruby had been made to believe that Hildebrandt “had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement.” In reality, the firm claimed that Hildebrandt “took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous.”

About two months later, Ruby returned to court Tuesday morning for a sentencing hearing that precluded what otherwise promised to be a high-profile trial, outlining the rise and fall of a woman who had built her career on giving parenting advice to her 2.5 million YouTube followers.

Disgraced Parenting YouTuber Ruby Franke Hired Private Investigator to Probe Angry Followers (Exclusive)
Life Before Ruby Franke’s Arrest
In 2021, Ruby and her husband Kevin — who garnered an online following by documenting their parenting style on the now-defunct 8 passengers vlog — began marriage counseling with Hildebrandt.

Divorced and estranged from her own two kids, Hildebrandt founded the therapy group ConneXions in 2012. Promising on her website to “help you flourish in your relationships,” she offered marital and parenting counseling to “dispose of distortion’s ugly lies in order to live in Truth, connection, and freedom.”

Inside the Ruby Franke Case: YouTube Mom Kicked Husband Out of House, Spoke to Him ‘3 or 4 Times’ In a Year (Exclusive)
During counseling, Hildebrandt suggested that the couple separate to save their marriage, Kevin’s lawyer, Randy Kester previously told PEOPLE. Kevin – who has not been charged in the case and has filed for divorce – moved out and stopped communicating with his family at Hildebrandt’s direction.
Social workers and police were called to the family home multiple times in recent years, but made no formal accusations, PEOPLE previously reported.

In the plea agreement, Ruby acknowledges that the child abuse “escalated” over the 2023 summer.

Eve, then 9, was “forced to work outside in the heat barefoot” and “to run barefoot on dirt roads for an extended period of time,” per the plea agreement. She was also “denied food and water” and “repeatedly told she was evil and possessed.” Ultimately, Ruby acknowledged that her youngest child “was convinced that she was evil.”

Jodi Hildebrandt Allegedly Used Cayenne Pepper to ‘Dress’ Rope Wounds Inflicted on Ruby Franke’s Kids: Police
Ruby and Hildebrandt also “regularly sought to indoctrinate” Ruby’s son Russell “and convince him that he was evil and possessed,” per the plea agreement, which added that he was made to believe that the torture he endured constituted “acts of love” and that “the punishments were necessary to repent.”

Ruby admitted in the plea agreement that she subjugated her 12-year-old son to “outside labor without shoes and in the summer heat,” forcing him “to stand in the direct sunlight for several days” and “remain outside at all hours of the day and night for extended periods of time.” Withholding “adequate water for several days,” during the blistering work, “he was punished when he secretly consumed water.”

Per the plea agreement, her two youngest children had “blistered and sloughing skin” and law enforcement alleged in documents early in their investigation that their wounds were sometimes rubbed down with cayenne pepper and honey.

Ruby Franke Blames Jodi Hildebrandt After Child Abuse Guilty Plea, Judge Says Vlogger Will Go to Prison
After Russell’s Aug. 30 escape, he would later tell law enforcement officers that he climbed out the window of Hildebrandt’s sprawling Ivins, Utah, home – where he was staying with his mother and Eve – and under the scorching desert sun, made his way about the distance of a block to a neighbor’s house that morning.

Russell stood on the man’s doorstep and asked the man to call the police.

Neighbor Who Called 911 On Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt Tearfully Describes Boy’s ‘Emaciated’ Condition
“His ankles are taped up and he won’t tell us why,” the man told the emergency operator. His voice broke as he relayed Russell’s words: “He says what’s happened to him is his fault.”

Ruby and Hildebrandt were arrested later that day.

Susan Young contributed reporting.

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