A FORMER YouTube family content creator was arrested on child abuse charges roughly eight months after her popular channel was abruptly removed.
Ruby Franke, a social media influencer and mother, used to run the 8 Passengers page on the site, which tracked the day-to-day lives of herself, her husband Kevin, and their six children in Utah.
According to Insider, the channel had roughly 2.5 million members at its peak before disappearing for unknown reasons earlier this year.
Since then, rumors regarding what occurred with the 8 Passengers channel have been spreading online.
According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were arrested on Wednesday night.
According to police, the couple, who just founded the parent counseling service ConneXions, were arrested for “intentionally or knowingly committing aggravated child abuse.”
According to KSTU, the claimed incident occurred at roughly 9.33 p.m. at Franke’s home in Springville, about 50 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
According to reports, the Springville Fire Department was also called to the residence about six hours earlier for a Mutual Aid incident.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), mutual aid occurs when “one party provides resources—personnel, teams, facilities, equipment, and supplies—to another party.”
It’s unclear what prompted the need for extra personnel at the Franke residence that afternoon, or whether the arrests later that evening are related.
Franke and Hildebrandt remain in detention, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office website, and no updates on their arrest have been provided at this time.
Although, according to Insider, allegations of Franke’s parenting of her children — Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell, and Eve — have been circulating online since 2020.
Child abuse allegations surfaced the next summer, when Chad supposedly had his entire room taken away after pulling pranks on his younger brother.
In a video, the young Franke family member stated that he was sleeping on a bean bag instead.
Several YouTube channels began their investigations on the 8 Passengers content, claiming to have discovered more evidence of child abuse.
In another video, Franke declined to bring another lunch for her six-year-old daughter, Eve, because she forgot to get it on her way to school.
Some social media users interpreted this as a parent starving their child.
The Frankes were aware of the allegations of child abuse and fought back, accusing investigative outlets of producing “drama.”
According to an interview they gave to Insider in June 2020, it was also a means for teaching their children the repercussions of their behavior and giving them “choices.”
At the time, the journal got a letter from The Division of Child and Family Services stating that a case against the Franke family had been terminated owing to unsubstantiated charges of child abuse.
8 Passengers continued with less frequent vlog updates for a while, but was eventually removed from YouTube.
Franke reappeared online with Hildebrandt in June 2022 as part of their ConneXions channel.
The Utah Clinical Mental Health Counselor Licensing Board placed Hildebrandt’s license on probation in January 2012, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
She allegedly exposed information of a client’s “porn addiction” without authorization at the Mormon church she frequented.
According to the unidentified client, Hildebrandt had a “agenda to destroy my life.”
According to Hildebrandt’s lawyer, Robert Harrison, her license is now “active,” and her practice “has and will continue without interruption,” according to an email sent to the publication.
According to a Utah Division of Professional Licensing order obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune, Hildebrandt did not comment on the incident but admitted to violating the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics.
ConneXions’ website presented itself as a motherly support group that helps “treat those lost and stranded in the darkness of distortion — which addictions, fear, sadness, and all other self-destructive behaviors derive from.”
ConneXions’ videos have apparently received a lot of backlash from viewers online.
In one film, the two allegedly expressed their views on parents who do not
Millions of viewers have seen YouTube and TikTok videos purportedly depicting Franke’s strict family regulations.Shari, her eldest daughter, also stated in an article on Instagram in 2022 that she was not on speaking terms with the family.
Shari stated she was “not in contact with my immediate family” and opposed “the extreme beliefs” of her mother and Hildebrandt’s channel.
Shari took to her Instagram story again after Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on Wednesday, displaying shots of police cars at the apartment.
All she wrote was “finally,” in one clip, and then in another, “Today has been a big day.”
“Me and my family are so glad justice is being served,” she continued.
“We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up.”
It’s unclear where other family members are at this time, including Franke’s husband, Kevin, whose Instagram account is no longer active.
According to Wasatch Defense Lawyers, if charged with intentional aggravated child abuse in the state of Utah, Franke and Hildebrandt may face up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office, ConneXions, and Shari have all been contacted for comment on the arrests.