The niece of Ruby Franke’s business partner Jodi Hildebrandt claims her aunt exposed her to “severe” psychological and emotional abuse.
Jessi Hildebrandt, who uses their pronouns, came forward to local Utah station KUTV and alleged that they “experienced” the child abuse that Jodi and Franke are accused of committing while they were lived with her.
“I was tied up, I was taped, I was blindfolded, I experienced severe isolation, I suffered severe emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse,” they told the outlet.
Jessi also claimed that Jodi constantly told them they were “dangerous to be around” and warned them against spending time with other people.
“People were afraid of me to the point that I was afraid of myself,” they explained, adding that they would have been “forced to sleep outside, in the snow.”
“If someone spoke directly to me, if I didn’t have duct tape over my mouth, I would just look at them and not respond,” Jessi said.
The tattoo artist claimed that their aunt’s therapeutic tactics all came from “shame,” so Jodi would try to “drive out the sin” by making Jessi’s life more and more “uncomfortable.”
“[Jodi] is remarkably convincing. She’s also terrifying if you upset her because she’s systematically destroyed your life,” Jessi added. “It destroys reputation, it destroys your credibility.”
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Jessi said they hope Jodi is “not able to slip away and fade into the background” as most of the attention has been focused on Franke, 41.
Franke and Jodi, 54, were both arrested Aug. 30 and charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse when one of the influencer mom’s children ran — while their extremities were taped up — toward a neighbor to search water and food.
The business partners, who together founded the so-called ConneXions sect, were jailed without bail. Both men were charged with four additional counts of child abuse about a week after their arrest.
Jodi’s lawyers filed a motion for an expedited hearing on September 8 on the grounds that she had “experienced a life-threatening medical problem” while incarcerated, which required her to be hospitalized for “several days.” .
The therapist’s condition remains uncertain, although she is still under medical observation.
Franke was also briefly placed under medical observation, but was eventually returned to her detention block.