KSL INVESTIGATES

Utah Division of Professional Licensing looks to take action on Jodi Hildebrandt’s credentials

Sep 7, 2023, 7:09 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2023, 12:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah mental health counselor arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse last week could be granted pretrial release as soon as Friday, and her license to practice is still active.

Through a spokesperson, Utah’s Division of Professional Licensing — commonly called DOPL — confirmed to the KSL Investigators Thursday that the division does not want Jodi Hildebrandt counseling others.

Hildebrandt, 54, founded Connexions Classroom, an Orem-based company which, according to its website, aims to “invite and encourage healing and facilitate personal growth through impeccable honesty, rigorous personal responsibility and vulnerable humility.”

Hildebrand, along with her business partner, Ruby Franke, 41, each face six felony counts of aggravated child abuse. Franke previously ran the now-defunct “8 Passengers” Youtube channel that amassed more than 2.3 million subscribers.

Both were arrested after a 12-year-old child escaped from Hildebrandt’s Ivins home on Aug. 30, knocked on a neighbor’s door and asked for food and water. The neighbor called police, noting duct tape on the child’s ankles and wrists. According to Santa Clara-Ivins police, the child had open wounds from being tied up with rope and was emaciated and malnourished. A second child, 10, was found in the home and also determined to be malnourished.

Utah Department of Commerce communications director Melanie Hall told the KSL Investigators DOPL has been attempting to take “appropriate action” on Hildebrandt’s license since the news broke, and while the agency typically takes action in response to complaints, this effort is not complaint-driven.

According to Hall, DOPL is also now working with the Utah Attorney General’s Office on a potential emergency proceeding. Hall said DOPL believes immediate action is appropriate, “due to the heinous nature” of the charges against Hildebrandt.

Speaking about the process in general and not this specific case, Hall said DOPL typically seeks to have the person willingly surrender their license.

It is unclear whether that will happen in Hildebrandt’s case.

Concerns about Ruby Franke’s children reported to police, DCFS more than a year ago

If DOPL goes forward with an emergency proceeding, that would be a convening of the licensing board and could be a meeting open to the public.

According to charging documents, Hildebrandt did not participate in an interview with investigators.

“Ms. Hildebrandt requested a lawyer and did not speak with us. Once given her charges, Ms. Hildebrandt informed me (the children) should never be allowed around any other kids,” charging documents state.

Hildebrandt and Franke are both scheduled to make their initial appearances in court on Friday.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.


Domestic violence resources

If you or someone you know is going through abuse, help is available.

Child abuse resources:

  • Utah Domestic Violence Coalition operates a confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). Resources are also available online: udvc.org. The statewide child abuse and neglect hotline is 1-855-323-DCFS (3237).

Help with Children

Those who feel stressed out with a child, who need a break or who feel like they need counseling or training can reach out to one of the following agencies:

  • The Family Support Center has 15 locations throughout the state and offers a free crisis nursery for parents who have to keep appointments or who are stressed out. They also offer counseling and family mentoring. Call 801-955-9110 or visit familysupportcenter.org/contact.php for more information.
  • Prevent Child Abuse Utah provides home visiting in Weber, Davis, and Box Elder counties. Parent Educators provide support, education, and activities for families with young children. Their statewide education team offers diverse trainings on protective factors, digital safety, bullying, and child sex trafficking. They are available for in-person or virtual trainings and offer free online courses for the community at pcautah.org.
  • The Office of Home Visiting works with local agencies to provide home visits to pregnant women and young families who would like to know more about being parents. Home visitors are trained and can provide information about breastfeeding, developmental milestones, toilet training, nutrition, mental health, home safety, child development, and much more. Find out more at homevisiting.utah.gov.

The Safe Haven law allows birth parents in Utah to safely and anonymously give up custody of their newborn child at any hospital in the state, with no legal consequences and no questions asked. The child’s mother can drop off the child, or the mother can ask someone else to do it for her. The newborns should be dropped off at hospitals that are open 24 hours a day. Newborns given up in this manner will be cared for by the hospital staff, and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services will find a home for the child. For more information, visit utahsafehaven.org or call the 24-hour hotline at 866-458-0058.

UPDATE: Businesses with names similar to Jodi Hildebrandt’s Connexions Classroom have been targeted with fake, negative online reviews.

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Utah Division of Professional Licensing looks to take action on Jodi Hildebrandt’s credentials