Ruby Franke, the family blogger who was arrested on child abuse charges, will remain in custody without bail, a judge ruled Friday. So will her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt.
It was the first court appearance for the embattled influencer and her associate since they were arrested last week and charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse. They both appeared virtually before a St. George judge.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The next hearing for both women was scheduled for Sept. 21. Fifth District Judge John Walton will be overseeing the cases.
Santa Clara-Ivins Police made the arrest in Washington County after Franke’s 12-year-old child knocked on a neighbor’s door asking for help. The child was malnourished and asked for food and water.
“I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help. And he said he just came from a neighbor’s house, and we know there’s been problems at this neighbor’s house. He’s emaciated, he’s got tape around his legs, he’s hungry and he’s thirsty,” the neighbor told a 911 dispatcher after he found the child.
The case has garnered national attention — during her first court appearance on Friday, thousands of people tried watching remotely, causing a delay in the procedures.
“We understand that everyone is having trouble accessing the Franke/Hildebrandt hearing. We’re working on a solution. We currently have 1100 people in the hearing and are trying to add more. Keep trying to join,” the Utah State Courts account posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
As the court tried to resolve the delay, several restless attendees, apparently anxious for the routine hearing to start, started to argue.
“What part about mute yourself was unclear?” one person asked, before being met with a hail of expletives.
“You guys realize this is a real courtroom, right, so you can still be found in contempt,” one man chimed in, putting an end to the bickering.
A popular but controversial YouTuber who gave parental advice, Franke amassed nearly 2.5 million followers on her channel “8 Passengers.”
Even before she was charged, Franke drew criticism for her tough-love parenting approach, where she, among other things, would talk about withholding food from her children and explain why kids don’t always deserve unconditional love.
The vlog was disabled in the weeks leading up to her arrest. YouTube has since deleted other accounts associated with Franke, according to People Magazine.