Jodi Hildebrandt is suffering from “life-threatening” medical issues in prison, court documents say

Ruby Franke’s attorney requested that her next hearing be postponed from September 21 to early October.

(Utah Fifth District Court) Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt appear in Fifth District Court in St. George on Friday, September 8, 2023. The two women are each charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse.

An attorney for Utah YouTuber Ruby Franke filed a motion Friday for an expedited detention hearing after Franke’s co-defendant and business partner Jodi Hildebrandt was hospitalized.

According to court documents, Hildebrandt experienced a “life-threatening” medical issue while incarcerated at the Washington County Jail and was hospitalized for several days. Hildebrandt’s attorney, Douglas Terry, filed a motion Friday requesting a special setting to discuss Hildebrandt’s detention status, citing her medical condition.

Franke’s attorney, LaMar Winward, also filed a motion requesting an expedited detention hearing for Franke and Hildebrandt because “it is believed that both cases should be tried concurrently.” KUTV reported that Franke was suffering from medical issues and that she was moved to a medical block at the Washington County Jail, but the details of Hildebrandt and Franke’s medical issues remain unclear.

The two women are accused of child abuse on several occasions.

Franke and Hildebrandt’s next hearing was originally scheduled for September 21 during their initial appearances on Friday, and 5th District Judge Eric Gentry announced that Franke and Hildebrandt will be held without bail until their next scheduled court appearance would remain in custody.

Winward filed a motion to postpone the Sept. 21 hearing until Oct. 5. Court documents say Winward had a conflict with the date and will be out of town on Sept. 21 for a family vacation.

Winward and Terry did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday afternoon.

The fees

Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested Aug. 30 in Ivins on six counts each of aggravated child abuse after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped from Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins and asked neighbors for food and water, according to court documents. Neighbors saw that the boy had duct tape on his ankles and wrists and called the police.

Responding officers then found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter malnourished in Hildebrandt’s home, authorities said. According to court documents, the two children were taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

The boy and girl — along with two of Franke’s other children — were placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services, according to a probable cause statement.

According to a news release from the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, the indictment accuses Franke and Hildebrandt of causing or allowing serious injury to be caused to the two hospitalized children in three different ways: through a combination of physical injury or torture; through hunger or malnutrition that endangers life; and by causing severe emotional harm.

These three alleged forms of abuse for each of the two children amounted to the six counts of serious child abuse Franke and Hildebrandt each face. Each count carries a prison sentence of 1 to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000, the release said.

Before their arrest, Franke and Hildebrandt ran a self-improvement program called ConneXions, based in Ivins. The program’s goal, according to its website, is to “help treat those who are lost and stranded in the darkness of distortion” through its curriculum of workbooks, DVDs and podcasts.

The videos of the show – with Hildebrandt and Franke – were previously embedded on the ConneXions website, but no longer appear there because the show’s YouTube account has since been terminated.

Franke previously hosted a parenting advice YouTube channel called “8 Passengers,” where she videoblogged the lives of her family — including her six children, herself and her husband. The channel was launched in 2015 and had almost 2.3 million followers before it was deleted last year. Ruby Franke’s eldest daughter said in social media posts that she had cut off contact with her parents.

According to the Utah Division of Professional Licensing, Hildebrandt is a licensed clinical mental health counselor based in Ivins. She earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Utah in 2003. Her license was first issued in 2005 and is listed as active.

Melanie Hall, a spokeswoman for DOPL, confirmed that the department was reviewing Hildebrandt’s license after news broke last week that she was arrested.

“DOPL has worked with law enforcement in St. George and the prison to reach an appropriate outcome regarding her license,” Hall said. “In addition, we have spoken to the Attorney General’s Office about whether urgent proceedings should be initiated.”

In 2012, Hildebrandt was disciplined by state regulators for speaking to leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU about a patient without their permission, The Salt Lake Tribune previously reported.

Justin Scaccy

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