(WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah) — Ruby Franke, a YouTuber who gained online notoriety with her tough and often controversial parenting advice, has been formally charged with six counts of felony child abuse in Washington County, Utah.
The mother of six was arrested last week after her 12-year-old son escaped through a window and ran to a neighbor’s home pleading for food and water, according to authorities.
The boy was severely malnourished and had “deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” according to court documents filed by law enforcement. Authorities said they also found Franke’s 10-year-old malnourished daughter inside the home and allege they believed Franke “had knowledge of malnourishment, abuse and neglect.”
Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, was also arrested and charged with six counts of felony child abuse. Authorities allege the 12-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl were under Hildebrandt’s “direct care” at her home when the incidents unraveled last week.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Randy Kester, the attorney for Ruby’s husband, Kevin Franke, said that Kevin had been separated from his wife for more than a year and denies any knowledge of the alleged abuse.
“He is a good person. He is very gentle,” Kester said. “And no one’s ever made any allegations that he’s ever physically abused those kids, or anyone else.”
The Frankes share six children and rose to fame on YouTube, amassing more than 2 million followers before the channel was taken down.
In one video that has since been deleted, Ruby Franke is heard saying of her children: “Up until now, I was really hoping that keeping them home from school and wiping the floor boards would like really bring pain.”
In a since deleted video from her YouTube channel, Ruby Franke’s sister, Bonnie Hoellein, says family members tried to intervene.
“We all did as much as we could legally, but you don’t know what you don’t know,” Hoellein said.
YouTuber “Swoop” has been following the case and says she noticed signs in Frankes’ videos that seemed concerning to her for some time.
“She was often giving parental advice, and most of it seemed to showcase how she decided to punish her children in ways that became increasingly alarming and very questionable,” Swoop told ABC News.
In 2020, viewers launched a change.org petition calling for child protective services to investigate Ruby Franke.
Franke and Hildebrandt are scheduled for their first court appearance on Friday.
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