A 911 caller who alerted authorities to two Utah-based parenting bloggers accused of child abuse appeared to break down while explaining the situation to police.
Child Abuse by ‘Parent Bloggers’
Utah mommy blogger Ruby Franke and business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, who made a living creating lifestyle and parenting videos on a YouTube channel called ConneXions Classroom, have both been charged with six counts of child abuse in the alleged abuse of two children.
They will continue to be held without bail until their next scheduled court appearance, Judge Eric Gentry said during a virtual hearing on Friday.
The women were arrested Aug. 30 after Santa Clara Police received a dispatch call around 10:50 p.m. about a juvenile asking for help, police said in a press release.
“I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help, and he said he just came from a neighbor’s house, and we know there’s been problems at this neighbor’s house,” a man says in a 911 call obtained by Fox News Digital. “He’s emaciated. He’s got tape around his legs. He’s hungry, and he’s thirsty.
“He asked us to call the police. So he’s very afraid,” the man added, later naming Jodi Hildebrandt as the neighbor in question. The boy later tells him that even though he came from Hildebrandt’s house, his mother is Ruby Franke and he does not live in the area.
One of Franke’s six children apparently escaped Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins through a window and asked a neighbor for help, court documents show. The neighbor saw “duct tape” wrapped around the child’s “ankles and wrists” and contacted law enforcement, according to a probable cause affidavit from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.
“He rang my doorbell and asked me to call the police,” the man says. “I don’t think he needs an ambulance. I’ll let the cops decide that, but his ankles are taped up, and he won’t tell us why. … There’s sores around him.”
The caller then appears to break down in tears before continuing to answer questions from a dispatcher.
Law enforcement located one of Franke’s children — also malnourished — inside Hildebrandt’s home after the first child contacted police. The child “initially refused medical” assistance but was later taken to the hospital, the affidavit states.
Police rescued a total of six children from Hildebrandt’s Washington County home.
Kevin, Franke’s husband, allegedly moved out of their home in mid-2022. Ruby and Jodi spent a lot of time together, and Ruby’s kids were living at Jodi’s home during their arrest.
The two women became business partners, though there seems to be a lack of boundaries between a therapist and a client in this situation.
Moving in with a business partner and allowing the partner to discipline and hold Ruby’s children captive also seems very strange, given Jodi being a licensed therapist.
Franke, in 2022, joined a new (since deleted) YouTube channel called ConneXions with Jodi Nan Hildebrandt. The pair sparked controversy with their videos, including one in which they made claims about what loving children unconditionally means.
Franke allegedly papered over her home’s windows and would spend weeks away while her children fended for themselves.
Both women appeared in court virtually from Washington County jail Friday after they were arrested in Ivins last week on six felony counts each of aggravated child abuse.
Their initial appearance was set to start at 1:30 p.m., but before then, over 1,000 people piled into a planned livestream of the proceedings to listen in. This overwhelmed the system and delayed the start of the St. George hearing.
Some of the many attendees shouted profanities, argued, or played music before they were removed. More than 30 minutes later, the hearing still had not begun. It ultimately began sometime around 2:15 p.m.
At the hearing, both women were ordered to be held without bail; their bond hearings are slated for 21 September. Although unclear, Franke has reportedly been relocated to the jail’s medical unit.
Each child abuse counts carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted.
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