(NewsNation) — Parenting YouTuber Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were arrested last month on charges of aggravated child abuse after an emaciated child reportedly escaped to a neighbor’s house to ask for food. Now, some people following the case, including NewsNation host Dan Abrams, are asking; What did Franke’s estranged husband know about the condition of his children?
Randy Kester, an attorney for Kevin Franke, suggested that his client was unaware of the alleged abuse and that he was not living in the same house as the children at the time.
Kester told Abrams that it was “abundantly clear” Kevin was “manipulated.” He said his client was given “twisted” advice by Hildebrandt, but he was “desperate to save his marriage and his family,” so he followed it and stayed away.
“He loved his wife. He loved his children. But (due) to this corny advice of this therapist (Hildebrandt), he was absent from the home for 12 or 13 months until all these horrific allegations that came forward,” Kester said.
Abrams asked Kester if Kevin has done nothing wrong, why the kids are still in state custody. Kester replied: “Because of the absence and the manipulation by Jodi Hildebrandt upon these children who she pretty much had under her exclusive control between she and Ruby, there has become a rift. These children have become brainwashed and are being held by the state in an effort to finalize and get some expert professional help, to help them overcome this brainwashing.”
Ruby, a Mormon mother of six from Utah, formerly ran a YouTube channel called “8 Passengers” with her husband about their life with their six children. They once had more than two million followers before the channel was removed from YouTube following accusations Ruby openly abused her children. Ruby then launched a new channel with Hildebrandt, which focused on mental health and counseling.
Kevin does not face charges in the case and police have not released whether he was living in the home at the time.
NewsNation digital content producer Tyler Wornell contributed to this report.