LOCAL NEWS

‘8 Passengers’ case: Court restrains Jodi Hildebrandt from selling home

Jan 19, 2024, 10:48 AM

Jodi Hildebrandt enters a St. George courtroom on Dec. 27, 2023. Hildebrandt later pleaded guilty t...

Jodi Hildebrandt enters a St. George courtroom on Dec. 27, 2023. Hildebrandt later pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. (Pool photo)

(Pool photo)

ST. GEORGE — The 5th District Court implemented a temporary restraining order against one of the two women involved in the “8 Passengers” child abuse case, restricting her from selling her house.

Kevin Franke, father of the children abused by his wife Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt, filed the motion on Jan. 12 asking the court to stop the sale of Hildebrandt’s house where the abuse occurred, to ensure there would be money for her to pay restitution to his two children.

Hildebrandt, 54, a business partner to Ruby Franke, pleaded guilty on Dec. 27 to four counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony. She admitted to forcing a boy to remain outside at all hours of the day, resulting in sunburns, regularly binding the boy’s hands and feet, and forcing a girl to jump into a cactus multiple times.

In a plea statement, Hildebrandt said they tried to convince the boy that he was evil, and the punishments were necessary for him to repent and were an act of love.

In the motion, Kevin Franke said Hildebrandt’s admission of child abuse established that two of his children suffered both physical and psychological abuse. He said the children have received medical care and are continuing to receive mental health treatment.

The motion said it is clear the children suffered irreparable harm because of the abuse by Hildebrandt and will require long-term care. Kevin Franke said once the juvenile court matter is resolved, which is expected to be in September, the costs of this care would need to come from him and his children.

“This would be a completely inequitable result; that the victims and the victims’ family would have to pay for their own treatment for injuries caused by (Hildebrandt),” the motion said.

He asked the judge to immediately prevent any liquidation or transfer of Hildebrandt’s assets so the resources to fund the restitution would be available. The motion said Hildebrandt’s home was listed for sale on Jan. 4 for $5.1 million.

In an order filed Wednesday, the court agreed with Kevin Franke, saying Hildebrandt’s guilty plea established the two child victims suffered “both physical and psychological abuse and injuries.” The children are undergoing medical care to “assist them in comprehending, understanding and recovering from these injuries” and the court said the children suffered irreparable harm and will require long-term professional help.

While the cost of the ongoing therapy and treatment is unknown, the court said it could be established prior to Hildebrandt’s sentencing on Feb. 20, when restitution is typically requested.

The court said the victims are entitled to restitution from Hildebrandt for their injuries and ongoing treatment of the injuries. The court order said Hildebrandt has resources that could fund the restitution, but not if they were liquidated or transferred prior to her sentencing.

The court ordered Hildebrandt and her representatives are “restrained from signing, disposing of, concealing, (or) transferring” her property located in Ivins until after her sentencing.

Kevin Franke argued in his motion that Hildebrandt is trying to get rid of or conceal her resources. He said his children should be entitled to a share of the profit from the home to pay for their long-term professional care, his request said.

Wednesday’s court order said there is “substantial likelihood” the children would get a share of money from the home to provide for restitution. A review hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1.

Ruby Franke, who previously ran the “8 Passengers” YouTube channel with over 2.3 million subscribers, pleaded guilty to the same charges as Hildebrandt on Dec. 18. One of Franke’s children escaped through a window at Hildebrandt’s home in August and asked a neighbor for food and water, according to charging documents. The child appeared to have been trapped in the home for some time, the documents said.

Kevin Franke filed for a divorce from Ruby Franke on Nov. 29.

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‘8 Passengers’ case: Court restrains Jodi Hildebrandt from selling home