(NewsNation) — As Utah mother Ruby Franke faces charges of child abuse, a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who met the Frankes says they were “not the Mormon family they were portraying themselves to be.”
Carl Andreasen, a YouTube content creator, doubts the sincerity of claims from Ruby Franke’s sister Bonnie Hoellein that the family did “as much as we could” to protect Franke’s kids from alleged abuse.
“I know that Bonnie herself was criticized heavily … back in 2018, 2019 … because she was constantly portraying her children with split lips and bloody noses,” Andreasen said Monday on “CUOMO.”
Hoellein made the comments in a YouTube video posted Aug. 31 that has since been made private, Page Six reported.
“My sisters and I, we are on the very same page. … and for the last three years we have truly clung onto each other, offering support to one another, and I don’t think any of us could have ever seen this coming,” Hoellein said in the video. “We all did as much as we could legally, and you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Franke was arrested and charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse after her 12-year-old son escaped the home of Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, and sought help from neighbors. They reported to a 911 dispatcher that the child had duct tape on his ankles and abrasions that appeared to be from some sort of bindings.
Another of Franke’s children was found inside Hildebrandt’s home in a malnourished state, police said.
Franke is a Mormon mother of six from Utah. She and her husband, Kevin Franke, ran a YouTube channel called “8 Passengers” about life with their six children, who currently range in age from 10 to 20. At the peak of the channel’s popularity, the family had more than two million followers.
8 Passengers garnered controversy for showing the children in vulnerable moments and for what Franke called her strict parenting style. Those who spoke out against the channel said she was openly abusing her children. The channel was removed from YouTube this year.
A former Mormon and YouTube content creator, Andreasen said he first met the Franke family at various conventions that would be attended by what he described in a recent video as “Mormon influencer families.” Later, both his family and some of the Franke family moved to southern Utah.
“Ever since we got to know the family behind the scenes, they were not the Mormon family that they were portraying themselves to be on their YouTube channels,” Andreasen said.
Franke’s four minor children have been placed under the custody of the state.
Hoellein and her two other sisters wrote in a joint statement Aug. 31 that they had “kept quiet” about Ruby Franke for the past three years “for the sake of the children.”
“Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe,” Hoellein, Ellie Mecham, and Julie Deru wrote on Instagram. “Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority.”
NewsNation producer Stephanie Whiteside contributed to this report.