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The student news site of St. Dominic High School

Crusader Nation

The student news site of St. Dominic High School

Crusader Nation

YouTube Mom Ruby Franke and Counselor Jodi Hildebrandt Sentenced in Court

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt at their February 20th hearing

The mom behind the “8 Passengers” YouTube channel and Jodi Hildebrandt, both pleaded guilty in court to four accounts of child abuse and were sentenced to 4-30 years in prison. 

For years, viewers of “8 Passengers” have been concerned about Franke’s parenting style and choices. Court documents have now shown what went on behind the scenes at the Franke house, and they were far worse that what was being shown on camera. 

Franke cried in court as she was sentenced for multiple accounts of child abuse, that one prosecuter described as “concentration camp” conditions for her children. Hildebrandt, a mental health counselor and parenting coach, also pleaded guilty.

Franke’s children range from 10-20 years old, the case focuses mainly around her two younger children, ten and 12. Both women have 30 days to appeal their case in court, but Franke does not plan to.  

“As far as we know, Ruby Franke does not have any intentions of appealing the sentence. She has taken full responsibility for her actions and is prepared to serve her time in prison,” A spokesperson for Frake’s attorney said, according to 

It is unknown if Hildebrandt will appeal. County prosecutor Eric Clarke,  had mentioned that the abuse the children endured was some of the worst he had seen in his career. 

“The children were regularly denied food, water, beds to sleep in, and virtually all forms of entertainment. They were isolated from others and hidden when people would visit the house. The children were forced to do physical tasks like carrying boxes up and down stairs and wall sits or sitting against a wall without a chair or a stool for hours at a time,” Clarke said.

Clarke also added that the children were also forced to do manual labor outdoors and in the summer heat sometimes without shoes or socks. Both children had multiple physical injuries from the abuse that required hospitalization when found. The injuries the 12-year-old had were particularly severe. 

In the courtroom, Hildebrandt stated “I sincerely love these children. I desire for them to heal physically and emotionally… My hope and prayer is that they will heal and move forward to have beautiful lives.”

The range in years both women can serve is concerning for many, but Eric Clark hopes that Jodi serves more than her counterpart Ruby.

“I am super concerned that Jodi, if she were released today, is a significant risk… Ruby was essentially a follower of Jodi. And if she’s gathering people and convincing them to do this kind of thing, that’s a huge risk and those types of people shouldn’t be walking the streets,” Clarke said. 

Ruby Franke’s sisters, Julie Griffths Deru, and Bonnie Hoellein have both spoken out about their suspicions of Hildebrandt and her website, ConneXions. 

“We all felt weird about this Jodi lady, we weren’t comfortable with it.. we didn’t like the teachings Ruby was bringing to the family functions,” Julie Griffiths Deru said, in a YouTube video in 2023. 

The sisters said Ruby had exiled herself from her other family members and also had multiple conversations about her addressing their disapproval with Jodi Hildebrandt’s teachings. 

“I don’t agree with how extreme they are on everything, I knew they were weird, I knew that they were ‘off,’ those are the things that we kept quiet about, because what was I going to say?” Sister Bonnie Hoellein said, in a YouTube video called I am not my sister. I am not my Sister’s Crimes.

The women’s time in jail is not determined, but people on social media, law enforcement, and the multiple case workers are in hopes that both women serve the maximum amount of time for the physical and emotional abuse the Franke children will suffer from for the remainder of their lives. 


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About the Contributor
Madeline Hunsel
Madeline Hunsel, Staff Writer
Madeline Hunsel is a Junior at St. Dominic and is a part of the Journalism program as one of the staff writers. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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