Ruby Franke plea agreement details abuse of her 2 young children

The two children were 9 and 11 years old at the beginning of the abuse, the plea agreement states.

(Screenshot via WebEx) Ruby Franke appears virtually from jail for a court hearing on a speeding ticket infraction that was ultimately dismissed at the Santa Clara Justice Court on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. Franke pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of aggravated child abuse through a plea agreement, which details the “physical torture” of her youngest son and “severe emotional harm” of her youngest daughter.

Utah parenting influencer Ruby Franke pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of aggravated child abuse through a plea agreement, which states the “physical torture” of her youngest son and “severe emotional harm” of her youngest daughter escalated over three months.

Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were both arrested Aug. 30 and each initially charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, which is outside of St. George. A neighbor called police because the boy appeared malnourished and had duct tape on his ankles and wrists.

Responding officers said they found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter also appearing malnourished inside Hildebrandt’s home. The two children were taken to a hospital for medical treatment, court documents state. That’s when they and two of Franke’s other children were placed into state custody.

The six counts initially filed against Franke and Hildebrandt accounted for the three different ways prosecutors said the women caused or permitted “serious injury” to Franke’s two youngest children: 1) through a combination of physical injuries or torture; 2) through starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life; and 3) by causing severe emotional harm, according to the Washington County attorney’s office.

Under Franke’s plea agreement, two of the aggravated child abuse charges initially filed against her were dismissed Monday.

The four stipulated counts Franke pleaded guilty to Monday each come with a penalty of one to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Penalties for the four counts will run consecutively. Franke’s sentencing hearing is currently slated for Feb. 20, 2024.

Plea agreement details children’s abuse

The plea agreement filed Monday states Franke helped “intentionally or knowingly” inflict “serious physical injuries” upon her two youngest children from May 22, 2023, through Aug. 30, 2023. Her daughter was 9 years old when the abuse began and her son was 11, according to the filing.

The abuse of Franke’s son started with “physical torture” and later escalated, the filing states.

Initially, the boy was forced to do wall-sits, work outside and carry heavy loads up and down stairs for “hours and days at a time.” He was eventually forced to remain outside for “all hours of the day and night” for extended periods, which resulted in serious sunburns, the plea agreement states.

The boy was also denied water for several days while forced to remain in the summer heat, the filing states, and he was punished if he secretly drank any water. He was also isolated from other people and denied all forms of entertainment, and when he was allowed food, he was given only “very plain meals” while others in the home ate “flavorful” meals regularly, the plea agreement states.

The boy tried to escape the home at some point in July, according to the filing. After, his hands and feet were regularly bound. Many times he was bound with two sets of handcuffs — one around his wrists, and one binding his ankles, the plea agreement states.

Sometimes, the two sets of handcuffs were tied together while the boy was on his stomach — effectively hog-tying him, according to the filing.

“The bindings resulted in injuries to [the boy’s] wrists and ankles where the handcuffs cut through the skin and damaged the muscle/tissue,” the document states. “These injuries were treated with homeopathic remedies and covered with duct tape. Then the bindings were placed on top of the duct tape.”

The filing also details instances where Franke said she forced her son’s head underwater, cut off his oxygen by smothering him with her hands and kicked him while wearing boots.

The boy was told “everything being done to him were acts of love,” the plea agreement states.

[Read more: Ruby Franke case: A timeline of events]

The plea agreement also states the boy’s younger sister was denied food and water, isolated outside and forced to do physical tasks. The girl was injured at least twice because of Franke’s treatment, the document states, which included being forced to work outside in the summer heat while barefoot, and being forced to run barefoot on dirt roads for an extended period of time, according to the filing.

“She was also repeatedly told she was evil and possessed,” the filing states, adding that she was convinced the punishments “were necessary for her to be obedient and to repent, and these things were being done to her in order to help her.”

According to the plea agreement, Franke will testify against Hildebrandt, and in return, the Washington County attorney’s office will “remain neutral” for future hearings before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.

Hildebrandt did not appear in court Monday, but court records indicate she is expected to appear before a judge on Dec. 27. An attempt to reach Hildebrandt’s defense team for comment Monday wasn’t immediately successful.