Ruby Franke, the former creator of the well-known “8 Passengers” family vlogging channel on YouTube, along with her current business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, has been apprehended on charges of aggravated child abuse.
Authorities were alerted when one of Franke’s children escaped from an Ivins, Utah residence owned by Hildebrandt, seeking help from a neighbour.
Officials from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department revealed that they received a report about a distressed juvenile in need of assistance.
The child displayed injuries and was found with duct tape on their wrists and ankles. The child was severely malnourished and suffered deep lacerations, leading to hospitalisation.
When police raided the house, a second malnourished child also was discovered. Both children were subjected to medical care due to their malnourished conditions.
Police established that Franke appeared in a recent video filmed at Hildebrandt’s home, leading them to believe she was aware of the alleged abuse.
Hildebrandt, known for her “Connexions Classroom” mental health company, had Franke listed as a business partner. The police report indicated that Hildebrandt made statements implying that the children should not interact with others, suggesting her awareness of the abuse.
The “8 Passengers” YouTube channel, which boasted over 2 million followers, has been taken down since its controversy. In 2020, several videos prompted allegations of child abuse, with one showing Franke’s son sleeping on a beanbag due to disciplinary measures.
Ruby Franke’s daughter, Shari Franke, who had distanced herself from her family, expressed relief about justice being served, sharing her family’s attempts to report the situation to authorities.
As the case unfolds, questions arise about the well-being of the children and the responsibility of those involved. With an extensive online following, the arrest of Franke and Hildebrandt has reignited discussions about the responsibility and accountability of YouTube influencers.
YouTube, in response to the removal of the “8 Passengers” channel, has not commented on the situation. The legal proceedings will further determine the outcome as concerns over child welfare take centre stage.
As the investigation unfolds, authorities aim to ensure the safety and recovery of the affected children while addressing the concerns raised by their online activities. The details surrounding Franke and Hildebrandt’s arrest remain under scrutiny as the legal proceedings move forward.