YouTuber Ruby Franke pleads guilty to child abuse charges

Posted at 2:25 PM, December 18, 2023 and last updated 12:44 PM, December 18, 2023

ST. GEORGE, Utah (Court TV) — The star of a once-popular YouTube channel offering parenting advice has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of child abuse.

Ruby Franke appeared in a Utah courtroom on Monday, where she told Judge John Walton that she had read “every word” of a plea agreement and wished to plead guilty to four counts of second-degree felony charges of child abuse. The plea did not include an agreed-on sentence, and a hearing was scheduled for Feb. 20.

Ruby Franke sits next to her attorney in court

Ruby Franke sits next to her attorney during a plea hearing. (Pool/Court TV)

When asked how she was pleading to the charges, Ruby said in court, “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty.”

WATCH: Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

Ruby was arrested in August after one of her children escaped from her business partner’s home and ran to a neighbor’s home asking for food and water. Ruby’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, was also charged, and another of Franke’s children was found emaciated inside her home. Both women were charged with six counts of child abuse.

Court TV obtained the plea agreement from the court, which indicates each of the charges she pleaded to carries a potential penalty of one to 15 years in prison. In the agreement, Ruby agrees to serve a prison term and acknowledges that the sentence for each count will be served consecutively.

In the plea, Ruby admits to the “physical torture” of her son, saying he was forced to do physical tasks “for hours and days” at a time. The child, who was 11-12 years old, “was forced to stand in the direct sunlight for several days. He was forced to remain outside at all hours of the day and night for extended periods of time. These actions resulted in repeated and serious sunburns with blistered and sloughing skin. (The child) was denied adequate water for several of the days he was required to remain in the summer heat, and he was punished when he secretly consumed water.”

WATCH: Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty to 4 Counts of Child Abuse: A Deep Dive

Additionally, Ruby admitted to kicking the child while wearing boots, holding his head underwater and “cutting off oxygen by placing her hands over his mouth and nose.”

A 9-year-old girl in the house was subjected to the same treatment and was “repeatedly told she was evil and possessed” and that the punishments were needed for her to repent.

Ruby’s husband, Kevin Franke, filed for divorce from his wife in November and filed a domestic relations injunction at the time. In an interview with Court TV, Kevin’s attorney, Randy Kester, said that the couple had been separated for more than a year and that Kevin had no knowledge of the conditions in which his children were living.

WATCH: The Shocking World of Ruby Franke: Was it All Jodi Hildebrandt’s Fault?

In a statement to Court TV before Monday’s hearing, Kester said, “Kevin and I, while giving Ruby credit for acknowledging the criminal nature of her role in this tragedy, are waiting to see what depth and sincerity she displays in the accountability phase of these proceedings.”

Kester told Vinnie Politan that Kevin and Ruby had gone to see Hildebrandt for marriage counseling, who then pushed Kevin out of the family home.”

“Kevin loved his family a great deal and loved his wife a great deal. He did not want to be separated from them,” Kester said. “He did not want to be apart from them, even to the point of not being able to speak to them. But he was persuaded by Jodi, who came as a trusted and upright professional to him.”

On Monday Kester said, “The bond and joy between Kevin and his kids is growing each day. With professional advice and oversight and the effect of Kevin’s demonstrable love for them, the family is doing much better.”