Ruby Franke case: Jodi Hildebrandt suffers “life-threatening” medical issue in jail, court documents say

Ruby Franke’s attorney filed a motion requesting her next hearing be moved from Sept. 21 to early October.

An attorney for Utah parenting YouTuber Ruby Franke filed a motion for an expedited detention hearing Friday after Franke’s codefendant and business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, was hospitalized.

Hildebrandt experienced a “life-threatening” medical issue while incarcerated at the Washington County jail, according to court documents, and was hospitalized for several days. Hildebrandt’s attorney, Douglas Terry, filed a motion Friday requesting a special setting to discuss Hildebrandt’s detention status, citing her medical issue.

Franke’s attorney, LaMar Winward, also filed a motion requesting an expedited detention hearing for Franke along with Hildebrandt’s, since “it is believed both cases should be heard at the same time.” KUTV reported that Franke was suffering from medical issues and that she was moved into a medical block at the Washington County Jail, but the specifics of Hildebrandt’s and Franke’s medical issues remain unclear.

The two women face multiple felony charges of child abuse.

Franke and Hildebrandt’s next hearing was originally set for Sept. 21 during their initial appearances on Friday, and 5th District Judge Eric Gentry announced that Franke and Hildebrandt would remain held without bail until their next scheduled court appearance.

Winward filed a motion for the Sept. 21 hearing to be moved after Oct. 5. Court documents state Winward had a conflict with the date, and will be out of town on a family vacation on Sept. 21.

Winward and Terry did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday afternoon.

The charges

Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested in Ivins on Aug. 30 on six felony counts each of aggravated child abuse, after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped Hildebrandt’s Ivins home and asked neighbors for food and water, according to court documents. The neighbors saw the boy had duct tape on his ankles and wrists and called police.

Responding officers then found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter malnourished in Hildebrandt’s home, authorities said. The two children were taken to a hospital for medical treatment, court documents state.

The boy and girl — along with two of Franke’s other children — were placed into the custody of the Division of Children and Family Services, according to a probable cause statement.

Franke and Hildebrandt are accused in charging documents of causing or permitting serious injury to the two hospitalized children in three different ways, according to a news release from the Washington County attorney’s office: through a combination of physical injuries or torture; through starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life; and by causing severe emotional harm.

Those three alleged forms of abuse, for each of the two children, amounted to the six aggravated child abuse counts that Franke and Hildebrandt each face. Each count carries a sentence of 1-15 years in prison, and a fine up to $10,000, according to the release.

Before their arrest, Franke and Hildebrandt ran a self-improvement program called ConneXions, which is based out of Ivins. The program aims to “help treat those lost and stranded in the darkness of distortion,” according to its website, through its curriculum of workbooks, DVDs and podcasts.

The program’s videos — featuring both Hildebrandt and Franke — were previously embedded on the ConneXions website, but no longer appear there, because the program’s YouTube account has since been terminated.

Franke previously hosted a parenting advice YouTube channel called “8 Passengers,” where she video-blogged the lives of her family — including her six children, herself and her husband. The channel was launched in 2015 and had nearly 2.3 million followers before it was deleted last year. Ruby Franke’s oldest daughter has said in social media posts that she cut ties with her parents.

According to the Utah Division of Professional Licensing, Hildebrandt is a licensed clinical mental health counselor based out of Ivins. She earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Utah in 2003. Her license was first issued in 2005 and is listed as active.

Melanie Hall, a spokesperson for DOPL, confirmed that the division is reviewing Hildebrandt’s license after news of her arrest last week.

“DOPL has been working with law enforcement in St. George and the jail to seek an appropriate outcome regarding her license,” Hall said. “Additionally, we have been working with the attorney general’s office on whether to proceed with an emergency proceeding.”

In 2012, Hildebrandt was disciplined by state regulators for discussing a patient with leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU without their permission, The Salt Lake Tribune previously reported.