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 in the southern Utah city of Ivins. She was taken into custody at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt, who owns a counseling business that she says teaches people to improve their lives by being honest, responsible and humble.
Franke has recently appeared in YouTube videos with Hildebrandt that were posted online by Hildebrandt’s counseling business, ConneXions Classroom.
Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of a window in Hildebrandt’s residence in Ivins and ran to a neighbor’s house Wednesday morning and asked for food and water, according to an affidavit filed by an officer with the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.
The neighbor saw duct tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists and called law enforcement, the affidavit said. 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 state.
Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was later found malnourished in Hildebrandt’s house 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.
Court documents reference a YouTube video posted to Hildebrandt’s channel just two days before the arrest as playing a part in both women’s arrests, CBS affiliate KUTV reported.
“Ruby Franke was seen on a YouTube video filmed in Jodi Hildebrandt’s downstairs, which was posted two days ago,” according to the Aug. 30 affidavit.
The arresting officer reported the video was evidence the women were “present in the home and having knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment, and neglect,” KUTV reported.
Both Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on suspicion of two felony counts of aggravated child abuse, though charges have not been filed, according to authorities.
Franke requested an attorney and did not speak with officers, the affidavit said. That attorney had not publicly been identified Thursday.
Both women are still in custody, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
A voicemail left at a phone listing for Ruby Franke’s husband seeking comment on the arrest was referred to his attorney, Randy S. Kester. Kester said he was representing Kevin Franke’s interests in keeping his children together and in his care and that he could not comment on Ruby Franke’s arrest.
A voicemail left with Hildebrandt’s counseling business seeking comment on Thursday was not returned.
A judge on Thursday granted the detective’s request that Ruby Franke be denied bail. The 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 and the officer had yet to speak to two of them.
Hildebrandt was also denied bail, court records said.
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