Ruby Franke, a Utah YouTuber known for giving parenting advice, had her first court hearing on Friday after being charged with six counts of child abuse.Both Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were arrested after Franke’s malnourished son ran to a neighbor’s house asking for food and water, authorities said.
Franke was ordered to be held without bail, according to Brian Schnee, a reporter for CBS Salt Lake City affiliate KUTV. Schnee shared a photo of Franke from the virtual hearing — which experienced technical difficulties due to the amount of people trying to log on and watch, he said.
Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department said in a news release earlier this week that it received a call Aug. 30 about a child who appeared to be “emaciated and malnourished.” The child, who had “open wounds and duct tape around the extremities,” was asking for food and water.
This child was Franke’s 12-year-old, who climbed out of a window at Hildebrandt’s house and sought help at a neighbor’s house, according to an affidavit filed by a Santa Clara-Ivins police officer, the Associated Press reports. That child and a second, who was found in a similar condition, were taken to a hospital.
Four other children were taken into the care of the state Division of Child and Family Services, and Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested in connection with the incident.
Both Franke and Hildebrandt are accused of a combination of multiple physical injuries or torture; starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life; and causing severe emotional harm to two children, Washington County Attorney’s Office in Utah said Wednesday. They each face six counts, which carry potential prison sentence of one to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Franke’s now-defunct YouTube channel, “8 Passengers” followed her family of eight, the AP reports. Hildebrandt says her counseling business, ConneXions Classroom, helps people to improve their lives, according to the AP. Franke has appeared in YouTube videos with Hildebrandt published by the company.