New video reveals how Ruby Franke’s husband was kept in dark about abuse

Body camera footage shows Kevin Franke sharing his story for the first time.

March 22, 2024, 7:02 AM

Utah mommy vlogger Ruby Franke, alongside her husband Kevin and six children, presented a picture-perfect family to her millions of subscribers on the YouTube Channel, "8 Passengers."

But off-camera, a year after her marriage unraveled and she asked Kevin to leave their home, a twisted tale of Ruby’s horrific abuse of the two youngest children has emerged.

In newly released police interview footage of Kevin Franke, from after his wife was arrested for child abuse, he tells his story for the first time.

PHOTO: Kevin Franke is interviewed by the Santa Clara-Ivins Police.
Kevin Franke is interviewed by the Santa Clara-Ivins Police.
Washington County Attorney

On the day that the Frankes' youngest son escaped from the Ivins, Utah, home of Ruby Franke's friend and business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, Kevin arrived at the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department. He told the police he was looking for his two youngest children, who ABC News is referring to by their initials -- R and E -- to protect their privacy.

Initially uncertain of his involvement in the case, officers say they considered Kevin a suspect, and he was questioned.

Body camera footage shows Kevin Franke revealing the answer to the question being asked by investigators: Where was he while his wife and Hildebrandt abused R and E in the summer of 2023?

Kevin Franke explains to an officer that he was not living with Ruby and the children at the time and had had no contact with any of them: "I haven't seen them for over a year." Kevin appears visibly upset and dismayed throughout the police interview as investigators describe R and E’s conditions and the evidence of abuse being uncovered.

But even after hearing some of the details, and after the turmoil in their relationship, Kevin tells the investigators interviewing him, "I love my wife.” He says that he doesn't want to say anything to incriminate her.

Early in the investigation officers confirmed Kevin was not living with the family at the time of the abuse, and with no evidence tying him to the case, he was cleared as a suspect.

Franke tells investigators that he had moved out of the family home in Springville, Utah, two years after he and Ruby started working with a marriage counselor. Hildebrandt, a licensed therapist, was that counselor - the same woman who would later plead guilty to second-degree felony charges of aggravated child abuse alongside Ruby Franke.

Hildebrandt specialized in addiction treatment and worked mostly with couples and families from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In new video released of his police interrogation, Kevin explains why he and Ruby separated: "The reasons are because of ways that I treated my wife and some of my own addictions that I was working through and seeking help on with um, with uh, pornography," Kevin said.

Kevin Franke's attorney, Randy Kester, told ABC News that much like some of her other clients, it was Jodi who falsely convinced Kevin that he had a problem with pornography. Kester denied that Kevin has ever looked at pornography.

PHOTO: Ruby and Kevin Franke seen together posing for a professional portrait.
Ruby and Kevin Franke seen together posing for a professional portrait.
Obtained by ABC News

Kester told ABC News that in hindsight, Kevin says that taking Hildebrandt's advice to separate from Ruby and his children ultimately damaged his family. "He realized that by taking her expert professional advice, that he was being manipulated."

Although pornography addiction is not recognized as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, some of Jodi Hildebrandt's former patients told "20/20" that she heavily focused on the issue of pornography addiction in their relationships, sometimes even at the expense of ignoring other issues that the couple was facing. Stephanie Jones, who, along with her ex-husband, sought Hildebrandt's therapy services from 2018-2019 said Hildebrandt used the term "addict" to describe all pornography usage.

"With Jodi, you look at it one time and you're an addict," Jones told "20/20." In her therapy group, Jones said that Hildebrandt had told many of the women to separate from their husbands, at least temporarily.

PHOTO: Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt pose together in a photo for Hildebrandt's ConneXions social media pages and website.
Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt pose together in a photo for Hildebrandt's ConneXions social media pages and website.
Leavitt Wells/Leave it to Leavitt

"Oh, your husband looked at porn, have him sleep on the couch downstairs. He masturbates, couch. Does it more than once, he should move out,’" she said, relaying the guidance she says women received from Hildebrandt.

Through a spokesperson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told ABC News, "While at one time [Hildebrandt] was on what is considered a community resource list for local leaders to refer members to for therapy, she was removed from the list in 2012.”

Detective Jessica Bate of the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department said one of the final straws for the Franke marriage came when Hildebrandt moved into the couple's home after she had a crisis in her own home. Kevin was initially hesitant, but he says in his interview with the police that he was persuaded by Ruby to help Hildebrandt out.

Bate told ABC News' Juju Chang that Kevin Franke said this moment led to a shift in his marriage.

"Jodi really integrated herself, and she would go on their anniversary dinners. She would just be there," Bate said.

As this was all happening behind the scenes, the three were appearing in videos on social media accounts for ConneXions, the life coaching business that Hildebrandt founded. In one series of videos, the "Live Couples Workshop," Kevin and Ruby Franke are seen discussing topics like marriage and sex together, sometimes alongside Hildebrandt or other couples.

But by 2022, Ruby and Jodi appear together in numerous videos, and Kevin is notably absent. His disappearance from the ConneXions content overlaps with the timeline of when he moved out of the Franke home in July of that year, although he was still a therapy patient of Hildebrandt’s at that time.

Two weeks after the first police interview, Kevin Franke went to speak with the police a second time. This time, Kevin no longer defends his wife, and he describes in more detail what he says sessions with Hildebrandt were like after he and Ruby were separated: "Every week was just hell, psychological hell, and Jodi was running it."

Kevin has since filed for divorce, and he is currently seeking custody of his four youngest children. In January 2024, he filed a restraining order to block the sale of Jodi Hildebrandt’s house. In the filing, he’s asking for restitution to pay for the ongoing psychological care of the children.

Both Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to four second-degree felony charges of aggravated child abuse. They are now serving the same sentence, up to 30 years in prison with the possibility for parole.

Editors Note:This article has been updated to reflect additional statements from Kevin Franke’s attorney.