Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt to be sentenced Tuesday, possible for victims to speak

Feb 19, 2024, 6:27 PM | Updated: Feb 20, 2024, 6:55 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Two women at the center of a high-profile child abuse case in Utah will be sentenced Tuesday after they both pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse.

YouTube family channel content creator, Ruby Franke, and her former business partner, Connexions Classroom founder Jodi Hildebrandt will be sentenced by the same judge. Franke will receive her sentence first, immediately followed by Hildebrandt.

KSL TV’s legal analyst, Greg Skordas, said we could be hearing statements from both women and those closest to them.  He said the judge will read a presentence investigation report, which was done for both Franke and Hildebrandt. Then, he may read victim impact statements, or the victims may read their statements themselves.

“They’ll have victim impact statements, which are letters from the victims in the case, and they’ll be allowed to submit letters from friends and family — what we call character letters,” Skordas said.

Skordas predicts Hildebrandt and Franke will receive similar sentences.

“With four second-degree felony pleas, each of which carry one to 15 years in prison, I would anticipate the judge will run one to five years in prison on each count, and probably add that some of the counts will run consecutively, that is one after the other,” Skordas said.

He estimates both women will serve about 10 years in prison, but said the board of pardons will decide how long they stay behind bars.

“Given the age of the victims, the number of victims, and just the outrageous conduct here, I would assume the board of pardons would keep her in prison for the better part of 10 years,” Skordas said of Franke.

In December, Franke’s legal team said she agreed to testify against Hildebrandt as part of her plea deal. They claimed Franke was led astray by Hildebrandt. Skordas said it’s possible because of this, the judge may decide Hildebrandt is the more culpable of the two and give her a slightly greater sentence.

Skordas argued both women should accept the blame and apologize on Tuesday.

“It wouldn’t help Franke to blame Hildebrandt tomorrow, as she has been doing,” Skordas said. “She needs to accept responsibility and she needs to acknowledge her own conduct.”

Kevin Franke, Ruby Franke’s husband, has since filed for divorce. But many online have questioned his role in this family ordeal.

“If the state was going to bring charges against anyone else, including the husband of the defendant, the state would have done that by now. There’s no reason to hold back. And the fact that they didn’t charge Franke’s husband means to me that he probably cooperated with the state. He probably provided evidence for the state, and they decided not to charge him.”

Skordas said he believes public opinion and the facts that have come out detailing the abuse of two children will weigh heavily on this case, and each sentencing could potentially take some time.

“Victims are allowed to speak if they want or a victim. Representatives can speak. And certainly, the attorneys for both sides can speak. So the sentencing hearing on both of these defendants could go for some time,” Skordas said. “But the judge has almost certainly already read what he’s going to hear tomorrow.”

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Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt to be sentenced Tuesday, possible for victims to speak