Ruby Franke, the Utah mom behind the now-defunct family YouTube channel 8 Passengers, was arrested on Wednesday night on two counts of aggravated child abuse, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, was also arrested on the same charges. The two regularly collaborate on relationship and parenting advice videos for Hildebrandt’s life counseling service ConneXions. ConneXions has been criticized in the past for its teachings about parenting, including prioritizing the organization’s “principles of truth” over a person’s children.
Representatives for Franke and Hildebrandt did not immediately respond to NBC News requests for comment. The Washington County Sheriff’s Department also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Franke rose to prominence in 2015 through the 8 Passengers YouTube channel, which featured her husband Kevin and six children. The channel had a following of nearly 2.3 million subscribers before it was taken down earlier this year. It’s unclear why the channel was removed from YouTube.
The Frankes’ strict parenting style has led some viewers to report them to authorities. In June 2020, some viewers called local child protective services on the parents after their then-15-year-old son Chad said in a video that he had slept on a beanbag for seven months, according to Insider. Ruby Franke told the outlet at the time that the sleeping arrangement was Chad’s “choice” after being removed from his shared room with his younger brother for behavioral issues.
Ruby Franke has also faced backlash for videos in which she refused to bring her then-6-year-old lunch after the child forgot to pack food and threatened to throw away her children’s prized possessions.
Eldest daughter Shari Franke, 20, posted about her mother’s arrest to her Instagram Story on Wednesday night. Shari Franke, who previously posted that she was not in contact with her immediate family, shared an image of police officers with the caption, “Finally.”
In another Instagram Story post, Shari Franke wrote, “Hi all. Today has been a big day. Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. 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,” she continued in her post. “Please keep them in your prayers and also respect their privacy.”
She also posted a request to her followers to share “any questionable or concerning ConneXions or 8Passengers videos” with her on Thursday. Shari Franke did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In Utah, aggravated child abuse is defined as an act that “inflicts upon a child serious physical injury” or “causes or permits another to inflict serious physical injury upon a child.” Franke and Hildebrandt are still in custody, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.