SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — In a video posted on YouTube Wednesday, the sister of accused vlogger Ruby Franke spoke out against her sister’s actions and claimed her family was cut off from them years ago.
Holding back tears in her public response after her sister was arrested last month on several charges of aggravated child abuse, Bonnie Hoellein brought to light her family’s situation in the weeks since.
According to Hoellein, she and her family have had no contact with Ruby Franke, her husband Kevin, and Jodi Hildebrandt for over three years after her family was allegedly cut off without warning or reason.
But during her statement, Hoellein claimed that the family had no idea what was transpiring behind closed doors, though she had some suspicions of her sister’s extreme behavior.
“I knew they were weird… I knew they were off,” stated Hoellein. “It was complete indoctrination of this thing that they created.”
Ruby Franke was an active YouTube vlogger who had her own channel removed from the platform before beginning another with business partner Jodi Hildbrandt called ConneXions Classroom — focused on mental health and counseling.
It was from Hildebrandt’s residence in southern Utah that Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped and sought help from neighbors. He reportedly suffered from severe malnourishment and “deep lacerations” after being tied up in the home.
In Hoellein’s video, now weeks later, she claims the family was able to reconnect with Franke’s eldest daughter Shari about a year ago. During that time, the family reportedly learned “bits and pieces” of information about Franke’s home situation and made efforts to help.
“I did everything I could with the knowledge I had and within the legal rights to Ruby and Kevin,” remarked Hoellein.
Outside of her family’s efforts, Hoellein says it is Ruby’s husband Kevin who should take responsibility for what happened. She said, “It was Kevin’s job to check in on things and he did not.”
With her family being cut off from Ruby, Kevin, and their children, Hoellein recalled the grief her family has been through since — also claiming it caused her mother so much distress that she suffered from a heart attack and kidney failure.
Despite being unable to share their story prior to the allegations, Hoellein mentions the additional trauma her family has endured.
“Their actions have cast the worst light on me and on other members of our family,” she said. “I am not my sister’s mistakes.”