Ruby Franke’s Estranged Husband Kevin Is Suing Her Former Business Partner Jodi Hildebrandt

Ruby Franke’s estranged husband Kevin Franke has filed a lawsuit against Jodi Hildebrandt on account of the emotional and physical abuse he alleges she inflicted on his children.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Apr 15, 2024 4:43 PMTags

Content warning: This story discusses child abuse.

The case surrounding Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt continues. 

Two months after the former business partners were given four consecutive one to 15 year prison sentences on child abuse charges, Ruby's estranged husband Kevin Franke has filed a lawsuit against Jodi. 

In the court documents, as obtained by local outlet KUTV and viewed by E! News, Kevin alleges Jodi was responsible for physical and emotional abuse against two of his and Ruby's six children—listed as 11-year-old son "R.F." and 9-year-old daughter "E.F." in the documents—after Ruby moved them into Jodi's home in May 2023. 

In the documents, Kevin alleges Jodi confined his children to the basement of her house, "from which they were not allowed to leave without the permission of the Defendant or Ruby Franke" upon the threat of punishment. Among the punishments and "physical torture" Jodi is accused of inflicting against R.F. are "wall sits, carrying boxes full of books up and down stairs and [...] outside labor without shoes and in the summer heat."

The latter accusation is further detailed as R.F. being forced to stand in direct summer sunlight for days on end with minimal water and no sun protection, resulting in "repeated and serious sunburns with blistered and sluffing skin."

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The documents claim E.F. was subjected to similar treatment, noting she "was isolated and forced to do extreme and demanding physical tasks, remain outside and denied adequate food and water."

In addition to the physical labor, Kevin's lawsuit accuses Jodi of restraining R.F. with various bindings—including ropes and handcuffs—that "cut through the skin and damaged muscle and tissue." (When R.F. escaped Jodi's home on August 30 and sought help for himself and his sister from a neighbor, police reports noted he was found with "open wounds and duct tape around the extremities." Jodi and Ruby were arrested shortly after and eventually pleaded guilty to four counts of child abuse as part of a plea deal.)

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According to the lawsuit, R.F. and E.F. were told the punishments and abuse were necessary because the children were "evil and possessed" and needed to learn to "repent" and that the abuse was really "acts of love."

In the suit, Kevin is seeking a jury trial as well as an unspecified amount of damages for three specific causes of action: "intentional infliction of emotional distress," "negligent infliction of emotional distress" and "negligence."

E! News has reached out to both Ruby and Jodi's legal teams for comment and has not heard back.

In a written statement shared with KUTV, Kevin's lawyer Randy Kester said on his client's behalf, "This lawsuit marks a significant step in our journey towards seeking justice for myself and my children against the abuses inflicted by Ms. Hildebrandt. Ms. Hildebrandt weaponized her authority and professional training to cause tremendous harm and damage to myself, my children, and my family."

His statement added, "I am committed to doing everything I possibly can to ensure that this dangerous woman can never harm another individual again and to seek the long-term healing and welfare of my children."

Kevin officially filed for divorce from Ruby in November 2023—though they'd been separated and living apart for more than a year before then—and provided detailed testimony of the way the relationship between his family and Jodi developed as well as the abuse he witnessed. 

For more details on the chilling case, keep reading. 

Aug. 30, 2023: Children Found Malnourished

Utah police received a call about a starved child being found, they shared in a press release. The minor—who appeared "emaciated and malnourished" with "open wounds and duct tape around the extremities"—was taken to the hospital in "severe" condition.

He was later identified as YouTuber Ruby Franke's 12-year-old son, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by NBC News. He had been at the home of Ruby's business partner Jodi Hildebrant and had climbed out of a window before going to a neighbor's house to ask for help, per the document.

Police then searched a nearby home, where another child was found "in a similar physical condition of malnourishment" and was also hospitalized, per the press release.

Authorities later explained that they discovered Ruby's 9-year-old daughter "petrified" while sitting by herself in an empty closet in Jodi's house, per evidence released by the Washington County Attorney's Office.

Aug. 30, 2023: Arrest 

Ruby was arrested for aggravated child abuse charges in Utah along with Jodi, who in 2007 established a life coaching service called ConneXions, which former clients described to NBC News as a "cult-like" program based on principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Aug. 31, 2023: Ruby's Daughter Speaks Out

On Aug. 31, E! reported that Shari Franke, Ruby's estranged adult daughter, reacted to the news on her Instagram Story.

"Me and my family are so glad justice is being served," wrote Shari, who was born in 2003. "We've been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up. Kids are safe, but there's a long road ahead."

Aug. 31, 2023: Ruby's Sisters React to Arrest

Ruby's sisters Ellie Mecham, Bonnie Hoellein and Julie Deru spoke out as well, saying the YouTuber's arrest "needed to happen."

"For the last 3 years we have kept quiet on the subject of Ruby Franke for the sake of her children," they wrote in a joint Instagram statement. "Behind the public scene, we have done everything to try and make sure the kids were safe. We wouldn't feel right about moving forward with regular content without addressing the most recent events. Once we do, we will not be commenting on it any further."

The siblings said Ruby's kids are "now safe, which is the number one priority."

Sept. 6, 2023: Charges Filed

The former 8 Passengers YouTuber and her business partner Jodi were each formally charged with six counts of felony child abuse by the Washington County Attorney in Utah.

Sept. 6, 2023: Kevin Franke Breaks Silence

Ruby's husband Kevin Franke came forward to deny involvement in her alleged crimes. His lawyer Randy Kester told Good Morning America the spouses had been living apart for 13 months before the arrest.

"He is a good person, he's very gentle," the attorney said. "He's a very gentle guy. And no one has ever made any allegations that he's physically abused those kids or anyone else." 

Nov. 29, 2023: Kevin Files for Divorce

Kevin officially filed for divorce from the Utah influencer, according to a domestic relations injunction obtained by NBC News.

Dec. 18: Guilty Pleas

E! confirmed Dec. 18 that Ruby had entered a guilty plea for four of her charges. At the time, per the Associated Press, she stated, "With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty."

Jodi would also plead guilty to four counts of second-degree felony aggravated child abuse.

Feb. 20, 2024: Prison Sentencing

Both women were sentenced to four consecutive one to 15 year sentences, which will be capped at the 30-year max in Utah.

Feb. 20, 2024: Ruby Apologizes

The parent vlogger apologized during her sentencing to her six kids and estranged husband.

"For the past four years, I've chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion," she said in court. "My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me."

She continued, "To my babies, you are a part of me. I believed dark was light and right was wrong. I would do anything in this world for you. I took from you all that was soft, and safe, and good."

March 25, 2024: Ruby's Diary Revealed

Prosecutors released her chilling journal entries, in which she wrote about her mistreatment of her children, including her "Satanic" tween son.

"He slithers & sneaks around looking for opportunities when no one is watching & then he scurries," she wrote in an entry from July 10, 2023, which was her son's 12th birthday. "If he wants to emulate the savior, he needs to be 100% obedient with exactness. No wavering, no hiding."

She wrote about punishing her children by beating them and withholding food and water.

March 25, 2024: Kevin's Interview With Authorities Becomes Public

Prosecutors released audio footage of Kevin talking with investigators after Ruby was arrested, in which he spoke about alleged restrictions he faced in their house.

"There were all these rules now placed on me, like I can leave when I want but I couldn't come back until Ruby gave me permission," Kevin said in an audio clip obtained by E!. "I couldn't come into the kitchen to eat until Ruby gave me permission and the upstairs where Jodi was was completely offline. I couldn't go upstairs anymore in my own house. And Ruby would dictate all of the terms of how our interactions would be, when we would talk. And that was hard."

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