Parenting advice YouTuber Ruby Franke arrested on suspicion of child abuse in Utah

A former YouTuber who gave online parenting advice has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated child abuse after two of her children were found to be malnourished.

Ruby Franke, whose now defunct 8 Passengers channel followed her family, was arrested on Wednesday in Utah and taken into custody.

Franke’s 12-year-old son had climbed out of a window in the city of Ivins and ran to a neighbour’s house on Wednesday morning before asking for food and water, according to an affidavit filed by an officer with the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.

According to the document, the neighbour saw duct tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists and called law enforcement.

The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was put on a medical hold “due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” arrest records show.

Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was later found malnourished and was also taken to the hospital, officers said. Two other of Franke’s children were in the custody of child protection services, the affidavit said.

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Franke was arrested alongside her business partner and collaborator, Jodi Hildebrandt, who is the founder of the controversial life counselling organisation ConneXions Classroom. The two women create advice videos that critics say promote a harsh style of parenting.

On Thursday, a judge denied Franke bail after a detective cited “the severity of the injuries of her two kids located in the home,” and told the judge the Department of Child and Family Services had taken four of Franke’s children into custody with the officer yet to speak to two of them.

Housing developments are shown in Ivins, Utah, on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. A Utah woman who gave online parenting advice via a once popular YouTube channel has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated child abuse after her malnourished son escaped out a window and ran to a nearby house for help, authorities said. Ruby Franke, whose now defunct channel ...8 Passengers... followed her family, was arrested Wednesday night, Aug. 30, 2023, in the southern Utah city of Ivins. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Ivins, Utah. Pic: AP

Who is Ruby Franke?

Franke and her husband launched their family YouTube channel, 8 Passengers, in early 2015. The channel chronicled the lives of the parents and their six children and had nearly 2.3 million subscribers.

As many family channels on YouTube do, 8 Passengers focused on parenting style, the children’s upbringing and discipline as the kids grew up in Utah. The parents, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (known as the Mormon Church), also shared their children’s home schooling.

Although the Frankes grew a sizable following, the family became the subject of harsh criticisms in recent years.

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