The estranged sisters of Ruby Franke have shared video statements distancing themselves following her arrest on 30 August that since led to six felony counts of child abuse.
Bonnie Hoellein said in her video posted on 13 September: “We did not know what they were doing because, like we said, we were cut off. We did not have access to anyone. I am not my sister. I am not my sister’s mistakes,” she said, before adding she was “beyond disgusted” by the allegations.
In a separate video shared the same day, Julie Griffiths Deru shared that her family is in “complete shock” after details emerged that Franke’s 12-year-old son allegedly climbed out of a window to ask nearby neighbours for food and water. Police revealed that the child “appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities” while another child was found in her house with similar injuries.
Ms Griffiths Deru also posted a statement on Instagram with another sister, Ellie Mecham, to condemn the situation. “For the last three years, we have kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children. Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe,” their post reads.
They claimed they would not be commenting on the case any further and that the arrest of Ms Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt “needed to happen”.
Ms Franke, 41, gained notoriety online with her YouTube channel “8 Passengers”, which she used to document her day-to-day life as a parent to six children alongside her now-estranged husband Kevin Franke. Her content garnered significant critcisim for her strict parenting techniques and frequent punishments.
Together, Ms Franke and Ms Hildebrandt created a therapy company called Connexions Classroom, which provided online parenting and relationship advice.
In Ms Griffiths Deru’s video, she described the project as “bullcrap” and “not a great resource”, and had believed her sister’s family was functioning up until three years ago when they entered counselling with Connexions Classroom, which she referred to as “not a great resource”.
Her sister’s statements come just one day after Mr Franke broke his silence over his wife’s arrest, as his attorney Randy Kester, spoke on Law&Crime’s Sidebar podcast to share his feelings on the case . He said Ms Hildebrandt had “manipulated” him and “destroyed his family”, and he “never had any reason to believe that his children were being abused”.
Both Ms Hoellein and Ms Griffiths Deru are also YouTubers sharing videos of their respective family life, but claim they had no knowledge of the alleged abuse prior to the news breaking about her arrest.
They have stated they had no contact with the Franke children until the extended family reunited with her eldest daughter a year ago. Ms Hoellein also condemned Mr Franke in response to comments from followers that they should have acted upon knowing allegations of abuse had been made, “We had zero contact with him,” she said. “It was Kevin’s job to check in on things and he did not. "For those that were saying that they'd go in and bust down doors and do whatever it took — to end up in jail? Because from jail, I can't do anything," she said.
Ms Franke and Ms Hildebrandt are due to next appear in court on 21 September for a bail hearing.