Ruby Franke’s husband sues Jodi Hildebrandt, citing emotional distress and negligence

NOTE: A lawsuit represents only one side of a story.

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Ruby Franke’s husband, Kevin Franke, filed a lawsuit against Jodi Hildebrandt Thursday, April 11, citing emotional distress and negligence for him and his children.

Based on the facts outlined in the complaint, the three causes of action are “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” “negligent infliction of emotional distress,” and “negligence.”

Kevin Franke is seeking judgment for past, present, and future special damages, along with pain and suffering; for losses and harms; and for all other general damages as well as pre/post-judgment interest, costs, and attorney fees.

READ MORE: Franke, Hildebrandt sentenced for aggravated child abuse charges

According to the lawsuit, Kevin Franke’s minor children were moved to Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, Utah, while he was living in Utah County.

While those children were in her home, the lawsuit states they were confined and were not allowed to leave, under the threat of increased punishment or “going to jail.”

Kevin Franke alleges Hildebrandt physically tortured the children, forcing them, in part, to perform labor, stand in direct sunlight for several days, run barefoot on dirt roads, and jump into a cactus “multiple times,” to name a few.

One of the children, called “R,” was forced to remain outside in isolation at all hours of the day and night with little food or water, the lawsuit states.

In July 2023, R attempted to run away from the compound. He was ultimately caught by Hildebrandt and Ruby, who reportedly bound his hands and feet and tied them to weights.

“Many times, the binding included two sets of handcuffs, on his wrists and ankles,” the lawsuit states. “At times, while he was laying on his stomach, ropes were used to tie the two sets of handcuffs together so that his arms and lower legs were lifted off the ground in a hogtied fashion.”

When the handcuffs cut through his skin and damaged muscle and tissue, they were treated with cayenne and honey and covered in duct tape, the lawsuit states.

The other child, called “E,” was treated similarly, forced into isolation and extreme and demanding physical tasks, as well as denied adequate food and water.

Both R and E were regularly indoctrinated, the lawsuit states, being convinced that they were evil and possessed, that the punishments were necessary for their repentance, and that the abusive behavior was “acts of love.”

On Aug. 30, 2023, R reportedly escaped from Hildebrandt’s home and contacted a neighbor, requesting food and water and that law enforcement be called “so he could be taken to jail.”

“The latter request was because he had been so indoctrinated by [Hildebrandt] that if he escaped, he would go to jail,” the lawsuit states.

Instead of jail, R was cared for by first responders and admitted to a hospital.

That same day, Hildebrandt was arrested and E was found sitting in a closet in Hildebrandt’s home.

After hours of reassurance from law enforcement, she, too, was admitted to a hospital, according to the lawsuit.

The Department of Child Services then took custody of all four of Hildebrandt’s children, “who had been so seriously and adversely manipulated and indoctrinated,” the lawsuit states.

“The children’s personalities, emotions and psyches were so damaged and altered that it was beyond [Kevin Franke’s] capability to restore them without professional intervention,” the lawsuit states.

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