ST. GEORGE, Utah (Court TV) — A mental health counselor charged with child abuse alongside YouTuber Ruby Franke is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday for the first time since Franke’s guilty plea.
Jodi Hildebrandt was Franke’s business partner and the two were involved in a parent counseling service called “ConneXions” before their arrest. In August, the women were arrested and charged with multiple counts of child abuse after one of Franke’s children escaped from Hildebrandt’s home and ran to a neighbor’s house asking for food and water.
Court records reviewed by Court TV allege that the 12-year-old who escaped to a neighbor’s home had duct tape around his ankles and that he told the responding officers that “Jodi” had tied them up. The child also told police that “they” used cayenne pepper and honey to dress the child’s wounds. Officers who searched the home noted finding “two used medical gauze dressings near a cayenne pepper and honey paste” in Hildebrandt’s bathroom.
Hildebrant appeared briefly at a hearing after her arrest but shortly thereafter experienced “a life-threatening medical issue resulting in her hospitalization,” according to court records. No further details about her condition were released.
At a hearing on Dec. 18, Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of felony child abuse. In the plea documents obtained by Court TV, Franke confessed to the brutal conditions her children were exposed to and said she “allowed another adult to inflict serious physical injuries upon her children” aged 9 and 11-12.
Part of the agreement Franke reached with prosecutors, which does not include any guaranteed sentence, requires her to testify against Hildebrandt at future hearings.
The attorney for Franke’s husband, who filed for divorce after her arrest, told Court TV that the couple had been seeing Jodi Hildebrandt for marital counseling and that it was Jodi who forced Kevin Franke out of the house and isolated him from the family.
Jodi Hildebrant is a clinical mental health counselor in Utah, but her license was limited after her arrest, and she is not allowed to practice until the charges against her have been resolved. She had been licensed for more than 20 years in Utah, and her file shows no disciplinary actions taken against her.