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Utah Mental Health Counselor Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

On Wednesday, Jodi Hildebrandt appeared in court in St. George, Utah. (Source: Sheldon Demke / St. George News via Associated Press Pool)

Utah mental health counselor Jodi Hildebrandt, associated with parenting advice blogger Ruby Franke, pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. The charges stem from the physical and emotional abuse of Franke’s children, revealed when Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped and sought help from a neighbor. The child was found thin, covered in wounds, with duct tape around his ankles and wrists.

On December 27, 2023, Jodi Hildebrandt attends a court in St. George, Utah. (Source: Sheldon Demke/St. George News via AP, Pool)

Child Abuse

Jodi Hildebrandt served as the business associate of Ruby Franke, a Utah mother with six children who managed a previously well-received YouTube channel named “8 Passengers.” Through this channel, Franke documented her family’s experiences. Both women collaborated at Hildebrandt’s counseling firm, ConneXions Classroom, where they conducted parenting seminars. Additionally, they launched a separate YouTube channel and contributed to a joint Instagram account called “Moms of Truth.” Collectively, they provided guidance and advocated for authentic lifestyles, leveraging their image as exemplary parents to obscure the undisclosed realities occurring in their personal lives. Despite presenting themselves as parenting role models, they were arrested for child abuse. The abused children were subjected to severe physical and emotional harm, including being coerced to jump into a cactus, run barefoot on dirt roads, and endure isolation.

Both women pleaded guilty to four of the six charges, with sentencing set for February 20. Hildebrandt admitted to inflicting serious injuries on the children, detailing instances of abuse, while Franke confessed to subjecting her son to forced labor, physical assault, and neglect. The Franke family had faced criticism for their parenting practices before the arrests, and Ruby Franke’s husband has filed for divorce but has not been charged in the case.

READ ALSO: 15 Arrested in Southwest Washington for Online Child Sex Abuse

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