Jodi Hildebrandt, business partner of Ruby Franke, pleads guilty to child abuse

Jodi Hildebrandt, a therapist and the business partner of YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke, pleaded guilty to four counts of child abuse Wednesday in a Utah court.

Hildebrandt was initially charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse for actions towards Franke's children. The charges are second-degree felonies that each carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

As part of the plea deal, two of the charges were dropped. Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to four charges. The plea deal was signed on Dec. 23, according to documents reviewed by CBS News.

This comes nine days after Franke also plead guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. As part of her plea agreement, Franke was set to testify against Hildebrandt.

The relationship between Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt

Hildebrandt owned a counseling business that she says teaches people to improve their lives, while Franke operated the now-defunct "8 Passengers" channel detailing her life with her husband and six children. Franke appeared in several of Hildebrandt's videos, and the two were business partners.

In August, one of Franke's children fled Hildebrandt's Utah home, malnourished and injured, and asked another neighbor for food and water. The neighbor called the police.

Police said they found the child emaciated, with duct tape around his wrists and ankles. Court documents revealed that the boy said Hildebrandt had put the restraints on him, then used cayenne pepper and honey to treat the wounds. One of Franke's daughters was also found at Hildebrandt's house.

Franke and Hildebrandt were both arrested on Aug. 30.

A YouTube video from Hildebrandt's channel featuring Franke was also referenced in court documents, according to KUTV. The video showed Franke in Hildebrandt's home two days before the arrest, which served as evidence that the women were "present in the home and having knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment, and neglect" of the children.

Franke was also charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse, but two of those charges were dropped as part of her plea deal. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 20, 2024.

Hildebrandt's sentencing date has not been publicly confirmed.

Details from Jodi Hildebrandt's plea agreement

Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to four charges of aggravated child abuse, and, like Franke's plea, the agreement includes details of crimes that are described as the "physical torture" of two children. The agreement states that Hildebrandt either carried out the torture or allowed it to be inflicted on the children.

According to the agreement, two of Franke's children were made to do physical labor like wall sits and outdoor work without shoes in the summer. Both were made to spend several days outside, the agreement said, which resulted in serious sunburns. The children were denied food and water or fed only plain, insufficient foods.

Franke's now 12-year-old son tried to escape Hildebrandt's house on one occasion before the escape in August when he made it to a neighbor's house. After the initial escape attempt, which took place in July, he was bound with rope and handcuffs, the agreement states. The wounds from his injuries were treated with "homeopathic remedies" and covered in duct tape, according to the plea.

During outdoor work, Franke's 9-year-old daughter sustained injuries and burns to her feet while walking barefoot. Hildebrandt also "either physically forced or coerced" the daughter to "jump into a cactus multiple times."

Both children, the agreement states, were told they were possessed and that the abuse was a result of their disobedience. They were also indoctrinated to believe the abuse was a form of repentance for their actions, according to the agreement.

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