Former Parenting Influencer Ruby Franke Sentenced In Child Abuse Case

woman looking off camera and speaking into a microphone
Law&Crime Network/YouTube Andrei Stepanov/Shutterstock Remix by Caterina Cox

Family vlogger Ruby Franke has been sentenced to at least four years in prison after being found guilty of multiple counts of aggravated child abuse. A judge handed her four terms of 1-15 years each — the highest sentencing allowed under Utah law — along with her former business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt.

Franke previously ran the YouTube channel 8 Passengers, which depicted family life with her husband Kevin and their six children. But while her channel provided the ideal smokescreen for her to hide in plain sight, her audience actually noticed red flags long before the authorities did.

Viewers started calling Franke out as far back as 2020, when one of her sons referenced having to sleep on a beanbag for several months in a video. This aroused other users’ suspicions, and from combing through Franke’s other videos, they highlight other instances of worrying behavior including withholding food, threatening to behead a stuffed animal and even “canceling” Christmas. 

At the time, Franke claimed the videos were taken out of context, and nothing was done. It took another three years before she finally got arrested last August, as her 12-year-old malnourished son escaped from out the window and alerted the neighbors.

Of course, it’s a good thing that justice has been done now, but there’s definitely a lesson here about missed opportunities. It also casts further doubt on the ethics of family vlogging amid child labor lawsuits and other controversies concerning the Ace Family’s Austin McBroom and the kidfluencer who was removed from school.

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