(AP) – A Utah woman who provided online parenting advice through a once-popular YouTube channel has been arrested on suspicion of serious child abuse after her malnourished son fled a window and ran to a nearby house for help get, said the authorities.
Ruby Franke, whose now-defunct broadcaster 8 Passengers followed her family, was arrested Wednesday night in the southern Utah town of Ivins. She was arrested at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt, who owns a consulting firm that she says teaches people to improve their lives through honesty, responsibility and humility.
Franke was recently featured in YouTube videos with Hildebrandt posted online by Hildebrandt’s consulting firm, ConneXions Classroom.
Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of a window in Hildebrandt’s Ivins apartment building on Wednesday morning, ran to a neighbor’s house and asked for food and water, according to an affidavit obtained by an officer with the Santa Clara-Ivins Department of Public Safety had submitted.
The neighbor saw tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists and called the police, the affidavit said. The boy was taken to a hospital where he was remanded in custody “due to severe lacerations from being tied up with a rope and malnutrition,” the arrest file said.
Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was later found malnourished at Hildebrandt’s home and also taken to the hospital, officials said. Two other children of Franke were in the care of child protection authorities, according to the affidavit.
The Franke family has been criticized online for their video blog 8 Passengers, which shows parenting decisions including banning their eldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his younger brother and sending him to a therapy camp in New York for unknown reasons the wilderness sent. In other videos, Ruby Franke spoke about refusing lunch to a preschooler who forgot it at home, threatening to cut off a little girl’s head from a stuffed animal to punish her for cutting things up around the house , and that she and her husband had told their two youngest children that they would not get presents from Santa for a year because they had been selfish.
Some critics started an online petition urging child protection agencies to get involved. The eldest daughter has cut off contact with her parents, she said in social media posts.
The YouTube channel that started in 2015 ended after seven years.
Both Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on two counts of suspected serious child abuse, although authorities said no charges had been filed.
Franke requested a lawyer and did not speak to the officials, according to the affidavit. This lawyer had not been publicly announced on Thursday.
A voice message that Ruby Franke’s husband left on the phone list asking for comment on the arrest was forwarded to his attorney, Randy S. Kester. Kester said he represented Kevin Franke’s interest in keeping his children together and in his care and could not comment on Ruby Franke’s arrest.
A voice message left Thursday at Hildebrandt’s consulting firm asking for comment was not returned.
A judge on Thursday granted investigators’ motions to deny Ruby Franke release on bail. Noting “the seriousness of the injuries to her two children living in the home,” the investigator told the judge that the Department of Children and Family Services has taken into custody four of Franke’s children and the officer has not yet spoken to two of them.
While the children were found at Hildebrandt’s home, Franke was featured in a YouTube video filmed at Hildebrandt’s home and posted two days earlier. This indicated that Franke was present at the home and was aware of the abuse, malnutrition and neglect, the arrest files said.
According to court records, Hildebrandt was also denied bail.