CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Ruby Franke’s parents, brother say Franke was brainwashed

Feb 22, 2024, 6:00 PM

Ruby Franke stands with her attorney, Lamar Winward, at her sentencing on Tuesday. Her brother and ...

Ruby Franke stands with her attorney, Lamar Winward, at her sentencing on Tuesday. Her brother and parents said Franke was brainwashed in letters written to the judge who sentenced her to prison. (Sheldon Demke)

(Sheldon Demke)

ST. GEORGE — Ruby Franke’s parents asked a judge to show “as much mercy” as possible ahead of her sentencing this week for child abuse, saying their daughter had been brainwashed.

In two letters addressed to 5th District Judge John Walton and the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, the parents and Franke’s younger brother said Franke had isolated herself from family and her friends at the encouragement of Franke’s co-defendant Jodi Hildebrandt, comparing Hildebrandt to a cult leader.

Chad and Jennifer Griffiths, who are currently serving a church mission in Serbia, said they noticed a shift in their daughter’s thinking in the summer of 2020, and a few months later, she had cut ties with her parents, siblings and close friends.

“For three years, what brief communications we had with her she accused us of either things that never happen(ed) or she grossly exaggerated the events that did. She was delusional. She was so deeply brainwashed we could not recognize her,” the parents wrote in a letter filed in court.

Beau Griffiths said he and his sister both joined Hildebrandt’s mental health company Connexions Classroom program.

“Many of the teachings from the Connexions program were reasonable and good. Unfortunately, as I later discovered, that is what made the program so dangerous. If it was entirely crazy it wouldn’t have had any influence. The program was by all definitions a cult,” Beau Griffiths wrote. “Ms. Hildebrandt was the sole source of what was right or wrong and discouraged people making their own life choices. A recurring theme was the principle of separation and isolation, which the leader routinely prescribed.”

He said he witnessed “numerous marriage relationships separated through Ms. Hildebrandt’s encouragement,” including his own for a time because couples in the program felt “a looming threat of divorce.”

Both Franke and Hildebrandt were sentenced Tuesday to four consecutive terms of one to 15 years in prison on four counts of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony.

Please read Emily Ashcraft’s complete story at KSL.com.

 

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Ruby Franke’s parents, brother say Franke was brainwashed