CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Kevin Franke calls for child welfare reform after YouTube mom sent to prison for child abuse

Jul 10, 2024, 7:00 AM

Kevin Franke, is speaking up for child welfare reform....

Kevin Franke is calling for better protections against child abuse after what his estranged wife did to their children. (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY – It was a scene that shocked even first responders: a malnourished and severely injured boy escaping a true house of horrors to get help.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the heroics of my son,” Kevin Franke told KSL TV Tuesday during his first interview since the arrests of the child’s mother, Ruby Franke, and Jodi Hildebrandt, a former Utah counselor.

Kevin Franke told the KSL Investigators he is on a mission to make sure what happened to his children doesn’t happen to any other Utah families.

He said help should have come sooner for his children, who were tortured at the hands of Ruby Franke and her business partner, Hildebrandt.

The two women were arrested in August 2023 after one of the Franke children escaped Hildebrandt’s Ivins home and asked a neighbor to call police. Both women have since pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated child abuse and are serving prison sentences, admitting to what prosecutors called the “torture” of Ruby and Kevin Franke’s younger children.

Kevin Franke called for change as he spoke to Utah lawmakers Tuesday at a regular meeting of the Child Welfare Oversight Panel. He then spoke with reporters.

In his remarks to lawmakers, Franke said he was isolated from his family for more than a year, at Hildebrandt’s direction, all while she and Ruby Franke navigated “loopholes” in the system to evade child welfare workers and police.

“All they had to do were three things,” Kevin Franke said. “One, keep the children isolated from the world. Two, ignore all the phone calls from DCFS caseworkers. And three, not answer the door when DCFS and/or police officers knocked. That’s it.”

The KSL Investigators first uncovered and reported that police visited the Franke family home 15 times between March 2019 and Aug. 31, 2023. At least five of those visits were to assist Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services.

Read the full story at KSLTV.com

Related: West Jordan police respond to domestic violence incident

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Kevin Franke calls for child welfare reform after YouTube mom sent to prison for child abuse