Ruby Franke, a former family vlogger known for her YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” is currently facing legal ramifications after her recent arrest in Springville, Utah, on charges of aggravated child abuse. This arrest has sent shockwaves through her once-thriving online community.

The Washington County Sheriff’s website reports that Ruby Franke was taken into custody at 9:33 p.m. on Wednesday, along with her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, co-founder of the parent advice and counseling YouTube channel and service, “ConneXions.” Both Franke and Hildebrandt have been charged with two counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse, whether intentional or unknowing.

Ruby Franke and her husband, Kevin Franke, gained immense popularity in the family vlogging world, amassing nearly 2.5 million subscribers on their “8 Passengers” channel before it was removed from the platform. However, their parenting style had raised concerns among viewers, leading to speculation that their six children were subjected to mistreatment.

Ruby Franke

Shari Franke, the eldest daughter, had previously hinted at family issues in 2022, which fueled online rumors and theories. Following her parents’ arrest, Shari shared an Instagram story featuring a police car outside a home, captioned with “finally.”

Who is Ruby Franke?

Ruby Franke, a Utah mother of six, rose to fame as a family vlogger on YouTube. She, alongside her husband Kevin, documented their family’s life on the “8 Passengers” channel, but their parenting choices faced significant criticism. The couple’s co-founding of the “ConneXions” program, described by some as a “cult,” only added to the controversy. Critics also highlighted what they considered homophobic, racist, and transphobic comments made in their content. One particularly contentious statement from Ruby Franke asserted that children do not deserve unconditional love.

What is 8 Passengers?

“8 Passengers” was a YouTube channel launched in 2015 that showcased the lives of Ruby and Kevin Franke and their six children: Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell, and Eve. At its peak, the channel had 2.5 million subscribers and was one of the most well-known family vlog channels. However, it was removed from YouTube earlier this year, and Kevin continued to post on a less popular channel.

The family’s content had been a subject of controversy for several years, with viewers raising concerns about child abuse and neglect. Incidents like refusing to provide lunch for a young child, forcing a son to sleep on a beanbag as punishment, and taking Christmas away as discipline garnered significant attention and criticism.

“8 Passengers” is cited by activists as an example of family vlogging channels that may leave children vulnerable and exploitable. In response, Illinois passed a law aimed at introducing protections for minors featured on their parents’ monetized social media.

Why was Ruby Franke arrested?

The arrest stemmed from an incident in which a child escaped from a residence belonging to Jodi Hildebrandt and sought help from a neighbor for food and water. The child had duct tape wrapped around their wrists and ankles, prompting the neighbor to contact the police. Responding officers discovered a severely emaciated and malnourished child with open wounds.

During a subsequent search of the home, police found evidence consistent with the injuries observed on the juvenile. Documents also indicated that Ruby Franke had been filming at the residence days before, implying her awareness of the children’s condition.

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Ruby Franke is currently being held without bail at the Washington County Jail. Her eldest daughter, Shari, expressed relief on social media, stating that her family had tried to report concerns to the police and CPS for years and was pleased that justice was finally being served.