Parenting Advice YouTuber Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty To Child Abuse

Franke also confessed to assaulting her son by kicking him while wearing boots

On Monday, a mother of six from Utah, known for sharing parenting tips on YouTube, admitted guilt to charges of child abuse. She will go to prison for trying to convince her two youngest children that they were evil, possessed, and needed to be punished to repent. 

Ruby Franke appeared in court wearing grey and white jail clothes and pleaded guilty to four felony counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse as part of a plea agreement, USA Today reported. While submitting her final plea, the ex-YouTuber said, “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty.”

Franke was originally charged with six counts of child abuse in September and two counts were dropped under the plea deal. 

After Judge John J. Walton approved the plea agreement, sentencing for Franke is slated for Feb. 20. The agreement outlined additional information about the children’s abuse, revealing allegations of possession. Franke, under the terms of the plea deal, committed to serving a consecutive prison term, with the final sentencing left to the discretion of the judge. Despite pleading not guilty to two other counts, Franke was remanded to custody following the hearing, according to court records, CBS News reported. 

Under Utah law, second-degree aggravated child abuse can be charged if that person knowingly or intentionally inflicts serious physical injury to a child or causes or permits another to inflict serious physical injury to their child, the media outlet reported. Each charge has a sentence of one to 15 years in prison. 

Winward Law said in a statement Friday that the abuse occurred while Franke was influenced by a relationship counsellor who led her to “a distorted sense of morality.”

“Ruby Franke is a devoted mother and is also a woman committed to constant improvement,” Winward Law said in a statement. Franke initially believed that her co-defendant Jodi Hildebrandt “had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement,” but said that Hildebrandt “took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous.”

According to the plea agreement, Franke acknowledges subjecting her son to torment between May 22 and Aug. 30. The abuse involved compelling him to endure prolonged physical tasks, outdoor summer labour without sufficient water, and sustaining “repeated and serious sunburns” that resulted in blisters. He was deprived of food or provided with extremely basic meals, and he experienced isolation without access to books, notebooks, or electronic devices.

Following his attempt to escape in July, his hands and feet were regularly restrained, occasionally with handcuffs. At times, ropes were utilized to connect handcuffs, securing his hands and feet while positioned on his stomach, causing harm to his wrists and ankles as his arms and legs were elevated off the ground, as outlined in the plea agreement.

Franke also confessed to assaulting her son by kicking him while wearing boots, submerging his head underwater, and covering his mouth and nose with her hands, according to the details outlined in the plea agreement.

“He was also told that everything that was being done to him was acts of love,” the agreement states.

“She was also repeatedly told she was evil and possessed, the punishments were necessary for her to be obedient and repent, and these things were being done to her to help her,” the plea agreement said. The girl “was convinced” what her mother said was true, the agreement said.

Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on Aug. 30 after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped from Hildebrandt’s house in the southern Utah city of Ivins and asked a neighbour to call police, according to the 911 call released by the St. George Police Department.

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