A Utah woman in the US who was once famous for her parenting advice to more than two million YouTube followers remained behind bars on Saturday on child abuse charges after her “emaciated” son escaped to look for food.
According to a statement from the Department of Public Safety in Ivins, a small town in southwestern Utah, Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were arrested on Saturday.
Franke’s YouTube channel, “8 Passengers,” where she and her husband, Kevin, shared experiences raising their six children with viewers, offered lessons in strict discipline — so strict that many viewers complained.
According to the statement from the health department in Ivins, a resident called on Wednesday and said a youth “who was very emaciated” climbed into his window and pleaded for food and water.
The young boy, believed to be 12 years old, reportedly had open wounds and tape around his limbs.
According to a police officer, the boy had deep cuts because he was “tied with a rope”, the local St. George News reports.
This boy, and another child who was found in a nearby house, were then taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment.
According to the statement, evidence “consistent with the marks seen on the youths” was later found in the homes.
Local police and family services officers removed a total of four minor children from their parents’ custody.
The two women were formally charged in Washington County on Friday and face charges of aggravated child abuse.
However, this was not the family’s first introduction to child and family services. In 2020, officials were called to the Franke home after a boy said on YouTube that he was forced to sit on a bean bag for seven months (bean bag) to sleep as punishment for a transgression.
However, his parents told reporters that he took the matter completely out of context.
This incident provoked a lot of criticism, which the Franke parents described as “hard and extreme” in their child-rearing techniques, also regarding the withholding of food as a form of discipline.
Ruby Franke’s sisters responded to social media posts on Friday, saying the arrest was “necessary” and would ultimately ensure their children’s safety.
Franke and Hildebrandt are being held without bail at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in the nearby town of Hurricane.
It was not immediately known what charges, if any, Kevin Franke faces.
No court date has yet been set.