The estranged husband of Ruby Franke has broken his silence over his wife’s arrest, saying that her co-defendant and fellow YouTuber Jody Hildebrandt “manipulated” him and “destroyed his family”.
Kevin Franke, who shares six children with Ms Franke, started a YouTube channel with Ms Franke in 2015, documenting the everyday lives of their family, showcasing their strict parenting techniques and punishments, which garnered a lot of criticism online.
Randy Kester, Mr Franke’s attorney, sat down with Law&Crime’s Sidebar podcast, revealing Mr Franke’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs on the recent arrest of his estranged wife.
Ms Franke was arrested on 30 August, and, according to Mr Kester, she knew she was going to be after her two children were found with wounds on their bodies.
Mr Franke allegedly got a text from his wife that there was an emergency, but responded that he was working. Ms Franke then told him he needed to call immediately, allegedly telling him on the phone that Mr Franke needed to take care of their kids, Mr Kester said his client told him.
Mr Kester told Law&Crime that Mr Franke said he didn’t know his wife and kids had moved to Ivans, Utah, as at that point he was separated from his wife for 13 months and had no contact with his children during that time.
Ms Franke allegedly told her husband that they both needed to work on their marriage, but that it would be better if he moved out and did not communicate with the children.
The attorney relayed that his client said the dynamic of his and his wife’s marriage completely changed when Ms Franke became business partners with Jodi Hildebrandt. The two women made videos on Connexions Classroom, a therapy company, providing relationship and parenting advice.
“[He says] she manipulated him in conjunction with Ruby, that she’s kind of the spearhead toward essentially destroying his life and destroying his family,” Mr Kester said. “We’re hearing other information that she’s done this to a number of families. And it wasn’t until all this came to light that Kevin came to realize that his family had also been victimized by Jodi.”
Mr Kester said to Law&Crime that Mr Franke had nothing to do with nor knew about the child abuse that was impacting his childrens’ lives.
“Emotionally, she was controlling him… Kevin never had any reason to believe that his children were being abused. And if he had even one inkling that his kids were being abused and that the separation wasn’t for any other purpose than to figure out a way between him and Ruby to reunite their family, he would have been down there in two seconds,” Mr Kester said.
“If you read everything that’s in the media, [Kevin’s] getting raked over the coals,” Kester told Law &Crime on the podcast. “But what people don’t understand is that he was trying to preserve his marriage. He was taking direction from her. She’s the one who asked him to leave the house and indicated that in order for him to be able to get back together with her and be a family, that she was requesting that he leave the home and that he not contact her or the children. She later told him that everything was blissful at home and it was so much better without him.”
Allegations were made about Ms Franke as early as 2020 with an online petition, while her husband was still in the picture.
Mr Kester says those who suspect Mr Franke of being involved in the abuse need to see this case as “subjective” to different parenting styles.
“Everybody says ‘no one’s ever written a perfect book on parenting… Kevin Franke has never been accused of physically abusing anyone, including his children, nor have there ever been any allegations that he was doing that. He doesn’t condone that kind of thing. He’s a good dad. He just simply does not condone physical violence or that kind of treatment of children or anyone.”
The attorney said that Mr Kester is working on getting back custody of his younger children while his wife remains behind bars.
“He’s consulting with professionals,” Kester said. “We’re working in conjunction with the state of Utah, through the juvenile court, to take direction from them about what they feel would be necessary to heal his family, and try to figure out a way, if possible, to reunify the family.”
Ms Franke will appear back in court on 21 September for a bail hearing alongside Ms Hildebrandt.