Authorities were summoned to the home of Ruby Franke, the YouTube family influencer charged with multiple counts of child abuse, in Utah last year after a concerned neighbor said her children had been left alone at home. home for several days, according to a police report.
The neighbor told a Springville Police Department officer she had security camera video showing Franke had been gone since Sept. 14, four days before the officer was called to the home, according to the report.
The neighbor and others “immediately began to report that the residence’s mother, Ruby Franke, was going to leave the house with her children for long periods of time and go to St. George to spend time with her friend”, Jodi Hildebrandt, according to the report. which NBC News obtained through a public records request with the police department.
The officer who wrote the report said he noticed children inside the house, but they refused to open the door.
NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City first reported the September 911 call.
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Police Lt. Warren Foster said in an email Thursday that authorities have made several attempts to follow up on the allegations.
Efforts by the Ministry of Children and Family Services yielded no results, he said, and the children refused to speak to a school resource officer assigned to the case.
When the policeman went to the family home, he found Franke and some of his six children outside.
“He tried to contact us, but they quickly entered the house and didn’t answer the door or talk to us,” Foster said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services declined to comment, citing privacy and confidentiality rules.
An assistant to Franke’s attorney declined to comment, saying in an email: “Our firm believes it is essential to allow the legal process to take its course and to respect the privacy and rights of all parties involved. .”
Franke’s eldest daughter, Shari Franke, called 911 last year after a neighbor contacted her, the report said, adding that she wanted officers to make sure her siblings were safe. and had food.
Shari Franke did not immediately respond to a request for comment. She said she was “happy that justice was served” against her mother.
“We have been trying to talk to the police and the CPS about this for years, and we are very happy that they have finally decided to intervene,” she said in an Instagram Story post after her arrest. mother last month.
The Washington County, Utah, prosecutor on Friday charged Franke and Hildebrandt, who are business partners and together run family counseling and life coaching service ConneXtions, with six counts each of child abuse. ‘children. Each count carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Franke rose to prominence on his family YouTube channel, “8 Passengers.” The channel featured Franke, her husband, Kevin, and their six children. The channel had nearly 2.3 million followers before it was taken down this year. On the channel, Franke was known for her strict parenting advice. ConneXtions has been criticized for its extreme teachings, including the rejection of children who do not respect its beliefs.
In a 911 call that led to the arrests, a neighbor of Franke’s told a police dispatcher that an emaciated 12-year-old boy appeared at his front door asking for help.
“He has duct tape around his legs,” the caller said, according to audio obtained by KSL. “He is hungry and thirsty.”
Franke and Hildebrandt are scheduled to appear in court on Friday.