Standard of Evidence
Legal standards and their arguability aside, voices round the world have heralded yesterday's triumph of the theocratic pedophilia cult over the State of Texas. Yet some courts in the state -- even in Austin -- and other voices advocating child welfare are holding out hope for the 400 minors found at YFZ ranch outside Eldorado, Texas, and calling for changes in the laws.
Long past time for changes in the law. Here, on Corrente, yesterday, I heard people saying the State of Texas had no evidence to remove children from the ranch -- because after the fact the call that prompted the initial response to the ranch was, allegedly, proven "bogus". I heard people say they would fear having the state take away their children. I heard people say the Texas CPS and law enforcement personnel had screwed up the raid and the case by moving too quickly.
I didn't hear a single voice standing up for the children at YFZ, wanting them to have a different or better future out of the clutches of the "patriarchs" of that cult and their brainwashed slave-wives. Not one voice advocated charging the "prophets" with statutory rape. Not one voice advocated charging the adults -- yes, every last living one of the adults who didn't report an abused child, a girl under the age of 17 forced into marriage, is guilty of a crime in the state of Texas under the current law -- with conspiracy to commit child abuse, conspiracy to commit child endangerment / abandonment (lost boys , anybody? excommunicating young teens and forcing their families to shun these children, who are left with neither support systems nor life skills to survive outside the FLDS compounds -- if that's not abuse, what is?), or conspiracy to transport women across state or national boundaries for immoral purposes -- and all of these things are revealed within the church's own records, testified to by the presence of multiple-"wife" households wherein children born to "spiritually married" couples are, in fact, legally born to single mothers, whose incomes are so low they qualify for S_CHIP, AFDC and other benefits their church presses them to take to "bleed the beast" of the state and local governments.
You can call my reaction horror all you want.
You can share my anger all you want.
But if you live in a state where there are polygamist cults -- and if you live in the US, Canada or Mexico, you probably live in a state with polygamist cults -- you need to go to work right now to make sure your legislators understand the urgent need to outlaw the insidious, invidious, oppressive abuse perpetrated against every child born into the FLDS.
I don't usually agree with CNN, but their legal analyst, Sunny Hostin nailed it today:
Well I think the appellate court got it wrong. Why?
Isn't this a polygamist ranch we are talking about? Under Texas law, it's illegal to be married to more than one person. Weren't all of these children living on a ranch purchased in 2003 and built by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the group, who was convicted last year in Utah of being an accomplice to rape?
Yes they were.
Weren't there 20 girls living at the ranch who had become pregnant between the ages of 13 and 17 and "spiritually married" to old men picked for them by Jeffs or his followers?
Yes there were.
And if you live on this ranch, don't you believe in polygamy, arranged marriages between young girls and old men, and that Jeffs is a prophet?
I would think so.
And if you are a young girl that lives on this ranch, isn't it true you will also be "spiritually married" to an old man chosen for you? Yes to that too. And isn't this dangerous for the children? What do you think?
There are some fundamental problems with the court's opinion. The court states that because not all FLDS families are polygamous or allow their female children to marry as minors, the entire ranch community does not subscribe to polygamy. Wrong.
They are living on a polygamist ranch and are members of the church -- a sect that left the Mormon Church so it could practice polygamy.
The court even reasoned that under Texas law, "it is not sexual assault to have consensual intercourse with a minor spouse to whom one is legally married" and that Texas law "allows minor to marry -- as young as age 16 with parental consent and younger than 16 if pursuant to court order." Wrong again.
The polygamists are not "legally married" to anyone since it is illegal to marry more than one person. They are "spiritually married" and abusing young girls. Finally, the court also states there "was no evidence that .... the female children who had not reached puberty, were victims of sexual or other physical abuse or in danger of being victims if sexual or other physical abuse."
Under the law in Texas you can have ONE valid marriage to ONE living spouse. Not two, not ten, not six, not three. ONE. That means that every single one of these men was guilty of a crime under Texas law: bigamy.
In the cases of the girls who were "married" at 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, the men are guilty of another crime: rape. In Texas the age of consent is 17.
The proof is there. The State acted as it should have done. All the sympathy in the world for religious freedom and all the anti-big-brotherism we can muster doesn't change the facts.
The girls deserve better. The boys deserve better.
The old men reaping their delightful harvest of underage sex partners and lifelong "priesthood" over slaves deserve prison, at the very least, for the rest of their lives.
We don't know who all spoke to that family crisis hotline in San Angelo, for sure. We know where some of the calls received that day came from; but the only calls we've seen publicly revealed are those leading back to a disturbed caller from Colorado. Because of that, many people claim no benefit can arise from, no investigation prompted by, those calls. That claim is based in a lie.
If the FLDS continues to win in court, how long before honor killings and female genital mutilation are the norm in the US? Because if you allow one flavor of religious behavior, you have to allow them all.