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Texas Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Returning FLDS Children

Sarah's picture

The high court, which released its decision at 4 p.m. Central time, found that 51st District Judge Barbara Walther had ruled improperly to take the children into state custody and upheld a subsequent decision by the Third Court of Appeals that the children should be returned.
In its brief opinion, the court said "we are not inclined to disturb the Court of Appeals' decision. On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted."
Kevin Dietz of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid said he would work with the courts and Child Protective Services, a division of DFPS, to do what's in the best interest of the children.
"Right now, that means reuniting these families," he said.
DFPS had argued the appellate decision left it unable to guard the children's safety from what it had deemed imminent danger of sexual and physical abuse due to the FLDS practice of polygamy. The state contended that the FLDS condoned marriages of underage girls to men and groomed its boys to continue the practice.

The State Supreme Court of the State of Texas is perfectly okay with this:

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Let me just point out that the State of Texas elects its Supreme Court justices. If you live in this state, and you don't believe pedophilia is a religious sacrament, these are the people you want to vote against in November. From now until the world looks level, if that's what it takes.

Shame on the "justices".

From an AP story carried in the NYT:

The Supreme Court, in a terse ruling, said, “We are not inclined to disturb the Court of Appeals’ decision.” It added, “On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted.”

(WARNING: PDF at link)
In the partial dissent, Justice Harriet O’Neill said the state had acted reasonably in seeking to remove “demonstrably endangered” pubescent girls but abused its discretion by removing younger girls and boys, too.

In its petition to overturn the appeals court ruling, the Department of Family and Protective Services said girls in the compound had reported being consigned to marriages by a church elder, “Uncle Merrill,” and “no age was too young to marry, and they wanted to have as many babies as they could.” Boys, the agency said, “were groomed to be perpetrators.”

But the Supreme Court ruled that the agency had means short of wholesale removal to protect children in danger.

Some expressed disappointment at the turn of events. Benjamin G. Bistline, a former sect member and a historian in Colorado City, Ariz., said the ruling would encourage the church’s leaders to continue their practice of polygamy and under-age marriages.

“This will embolden them,” said Mr. Bistline, who has written a history of the polygamist community and who is now a member of the mainstream Mormon Church. “It’s definitely a big win for the polygamists.”

"On the record before us" included the photographs of Warren Jeffs sexually assaulting not one but two underage female children.

Dissenting justices aside, the court today anointed the rules of the FLDS -- and theocracies, patriarchic and otherwise -- supreme above the laws of the State of Texas, and put the interests of "prophets" before the interests of innocents.

Shame on you, Justices -- you could

have taken a stand on behalf of the law. You could have taken a stand on behalf of the children. You could have said, "wait until the DNA tests come back." You did not.

Instead you chose to side with Warren Jeffs, to uphold fugitives, to anoint slavery anew -- so long as those enslaved are minors and women, who matter naught in the eyes of the money-craving monster pit that is electoral politics in the US, not less evil because the stage is smaller when the seat is in Austin -- and you chose to spit in the faces of the children whose lives could have been changed had you upheld justice.

Instead you "reunited families".
You chose to allow this:

Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which brought the appeal on behalf of the mothers, said by telephone: “We are extremely happy with the decision. Clearly the Supreme Court found it’s in the best interest of the children to be reunited with their families.

“We are communicating with our mothers right now, letting them know the news. They are one step closer to getting their kids back, and that’s been the most important thing to them this entire time.”

In Hildale, Utah, another sect stronghold, Mayor David Zitting said, “It sounds like good news” but he added he still had questions about the return of the children. Church leaders had moved many of the families from Hildale and Colorado City to the ranch in Eldorado, Mr. Zitting said, and it was unclear where they and their children would go now.

Some lawyers representing children were torn. Mary Jo McCurley, a Dallas lawyer and a former chairwoman of the state bar’s family law section, was appointed legal guardian of three of the children, including a daughter of the church’s prophet-leader Warren Jeffs, who is now in prison. Although the state did not win its case, Ms. McCurley said, it was important to remember that there were signs of abuse uncovered.

State and federal criminal investigations are under way and could still produce criminal charges.

“It’s really unfortunate, because obviously there are some children who have been sexually abused,” Ms. McCurley said. “But this doesn’t keep them from coming back and having another hearing. They could get their proof together, for example have a doctor come in and say this child is 13 years old and she has already given birth to another child, and the father of that child is 46 years old.”

Shakespeare might've been onto something after all when he wrote Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78 .

I have never before in my life been ashamed to be Texan.
Tonight, I am.

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myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Perhaps the evidence of abuse isn't there, despite the media reports on this case.

Perhaps the justices ignored the lynch mob of public opinion and followed THE LAW.

------------------------------------------------
“Rules are not necessarily sacred,
principles are.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Submitted by PA_Lady on

Those photos, this (2nd) decision in favor of the FLDS that will send abused children back to their perpetrators - the whole nine yards.

"State and federal criminal investigations are under way and could still produce criminal charges."

Uh-huh. And by the time these investigations are completed, those children will either have vanished into other sect strongholds under assumed names, or we're going to see some kind of standoff when the authorites try to retake the children. (Yes, I know the court will order them to remain in the district court's jurisdiction, but YFZ and the FLDS have proven to be less than interested in following the law.)

I'm amazed, disgusted, and furious. In any other case, the child(ren) would be removed until the investigation was complete. Yeah, it's imperfect in cases where there is no abuse because investigations take time, but the idea is to protect the abused children from further sexual assault and/or retaliation.

eric the red's picture
Submitted by eric the red on

kids and it turned into a clusterfuck when they took them all. Texas just wants to wash its hands of this whole mess. Pretend it never happened. I suppose some prosecuter might pick out a couple of clear cases and prosecute, but otherwise its just a way to extricate itself.

It's funny because who do you send the kids back to? The parentage on some of these kids is so messed up and some minor daughters are also wives and mothers already. Bah.

Incitatus's picture
Submitted by Incitatus on

It's not for judges to make laws, but to enforce them. If the laws are not satisfactory, then Texans should petition their legislators, not oust their judges.

As for the medical exams, unless Texas is a special case, I'm pretty sure they can only be administered with permission from the patient (or guardian). If the children objected, I'm not sure there would be any choice (legally or ethically) but to honour their wishes. It would be a little bizarre to forcibly violate the dignity of a child in order to prove her dignity had been violated!

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Did you conduct the investigation or are you basing your conclusions on what the media have reported?

On appeal, an appellate court will not reverse a trial court finding of fact unless there is no credible evidence to support that ruling. They do not re-weigh the evidence.

So either you're right and all the (male) judges in Texas are FITH, or THERE IS NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE.

------------------------------------------------
“Rules are not necessarily sacred,
principles are.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

I live in Texas. I'm a woman. I have a 12-year-old niece in San Angelo.

No, I don't base it on "what the media have reported."

Have you read "Under the Banner of Heaven"? Do you know what dominionists are? Have you read anything ever written by Dorothy Allred Solomon? Have you read Carolyn Jessop's book, or Stephen Singular's?

Oh, while we're at it -- how come NO Abramic cult embraces polyandry?

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Or living in Texas?

What difference does it make that the appellate justices were men?

Did those authors you cited provide specific facts about this particular case?

You obviously have your mind made up and don't care what the facts are.

------------------------------------------------
“Rules are not necessarily sacred,
principles are.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

hostage to the same FLDS-infested local authorities as the women trying to get out of the FLDS in Arizona, Utah, Mexico, British Columbia. With their kids. Because it's wrong to be forced to "spiritually marry" -- especially when you're a woman who does not want to have sex with that man.

In any other context, sex that is not consensual is called rape.

Why isn't the same true in "plural marriage" and "child bride" cases in the FLDS -- and why aren't photographs and firsthand accounts considered credible evidence? Why did the Texas Supreme Court rush to judgment before the DNA results were back?

And you, too, obviously have your mind made up.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Maybe you don’t know these folks in the FLDS. I do. I lived around them for years. I’ve meet people who have escaped and been thrown out, I know from their direct testimony to me about the horrors. There is absolutely no reason why all of them should have lied to me, or for me to be lying now.

There’s no question that the FLDS engage in coerced sex between adult men and underage women. There’s no question that everyone in the FLDS is aware of that, and has been taught to see it as not just normal but desirable and necessary. They have been groomed to condone and participate in child abuse and endangerment from sexual exploitation and statutory rape. The adults are all part of a conspiracy to further these practices.

There is no question that the FLDS use underage children as forced labor in construction gangs – not, as might occur in some rural settings as farm help. There’s no question that everyone in the FLDS is aware of that, and has been taught to see it as not just normal but desirable and necessary. They have been groomed to condone and participate in child abuse and endangerment from unsafe labor practices and violation of child labor laws. The adults are all part of a conspiracy to further these practices.

There is no question that the FLDS drive underage boys from their homes, abandoning them to the streets to fend for themselves with no useful education or work skills. There’s no question that everyone in the FLDS is aware of that, and has been taught to see it as not just normal but desirable and necessary. They have been groomed to condone and participate in child abuse and endangerment from emotional and physical abandonment. The adults are all part of a conspiracy to further these practices.

There is no question that the FLDS systematically engage in welfare fraud, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. There’s no question that everyone in the FLDS is aware of that, and has been taught to see it as not just normal but desirable and necessary. They have been groomed to condone and participate in welfare fraud. The adults are all part of a conspiracy to further these practices.

There is no question that the FLDS systematically engage in income tax evasion, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. There’s no question that everyone in the FLDS is aware of that, and has been taught to see it as not just normal but desirable and necessary. They have been groomed to condone and participate in tax evasion. The adults are all part of a conspiracy to further these practices.

There’s more, less well documented but no less creepy. I’ve stood at the “baby cemeteries” and call me paranoid but they seem like way too many young dead to me. Somebody should look into why that is.

The FLDS is a cruel criminal enterprise. There is no question about that. They groom their children to participate in the criminality, or drive them from their homes and loved ones and abandon them to their fate. The FLDS needs to be stopped from continuing these practices, and the guilty adults need to be punished.

That our society has not taken all necessary measures to do so is for me a great shame. Sarah feels similarly. Sometimes, those of us living way out West where the states are square talk in a sort of shorthand – especially when we feel very strongly about something. “Get me a rope” is one of those phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally. We know we can’t do that anymore, but we still say it anyway. Part of our country charm.

We also have an expectation that the law and the police and the judges will take care of seeing to it that the right thing gets done. We don’t have much patience with fancy dress lawyers and their fancy way with words, and we don’t care much for snooty judges who let the guilty go free so they can continue to rape and pillage. We especially don’t like it when little children or womenfolk are being abused and no one steps in and puts a stop to it. We’re old-fashioned that way.

This systematic abuse of women and children has been going on with the FLDS for well over a hundred years. Some of us are past being temperate in our speech when we see the institutions we expect to protect women and children failing to do what we – and the abused women and children – need them to do to put a stop to it. When we lose our usual even temper, we will speak our mind and say exactly what we think. Part of our country charm.

The courts in Texas have been notorious for bending the law – well, maybe stretching is a better term – to ensure that the accused, guilty or not, are quickly found guilty and sentenced to long prison terms and even death without much opportunity for relief. That in this setting, where the dominant perpetrators are men and the principle victims are women and children, the courts should take such great care to not err on the side of the state’s assertions is, frankly, disgusting.

It is entirely possible, as with OJ Simpson, for a person to be stone-cold guilty and still walk. It happens. That the higher courts have held that there is insufficient evidence for the district court action is not to say that the findings of the court are incorrect; only that they can’t be enforced.

You’re a lawyer, MyIQ; you know that the law is not the same as right and wrong. You also know that "not guilty" isn’t the same as "innocent." FLDS are guilty as sin. What we need are for prosecutors and the courts and Family Services to step up and take care of business. Until they do, calling them out for failing to do what's needed, and demanding their impeachment or replacement, is entirely within the rights of responsible citizens.

It’s either that, or I need to go get me my rope.

[MyIQ, this last paragraph is just between me and you. Take care around Sarah. Your attitude towards her has gotten my dander up. I let your filthy mouth slide once before, but that won’t happen again. You keep a civil tongue, or I’ll make sure you’ll wish you had. Part of my country charm.]

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

so where is it?

Why is disgusting that the courts are taking precautions to not err on the side of the state (i.e. before using the power of the state against individuals) when that is what they are supposed to do?

"Not guilty" means the state has failed to meet its burden of producing evidence. The law treats "not guilty" as "innocent" because everyone is presumed innocent.

Y'all want to have a hanging even if the defendants are not guilty. That's disgusting.

------------------------------------------------
“Rules are not necessarily sacred,
principles are.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Many hangings of the guilty.

It's called justice.

Why your sympathies and cries for "due process" align you with the defendants -- the odious Jeffs is already in prison for conspiracy to commit rape, is he not? Doesn't that mean he's been found guilty? -- is beyond me, but I suppose it's your lawyerly duty, or something.

Open your eyes. Look at the evidence. Casual casuistry is not commendable.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

This post concerned the Texas Supreme Court ruling on the kids, which upheld the lower court ruling that the trial court acted improperly because there wasn't evidence to support it's finding of child abuse.

I don't recall anything about Mr. Jeffs being freed, this involved other people.

The two higher courts looked at the "evidence," not the media reports. They ruled in favor of the parents. You disagree with those rulings and assume that the justices are corrupt and/or stupid because the justices are men.

That's sexist.

Courts are supposed to rule on evidence, not public opinion or what "everybody" knows. This was not a situation where the appellate court threw out the key evidence on a technicality, and the speed of the reversal and it's subsequent affirmation indicates a persuasive case in favor of the parents.

You are certain that the evidence is overwhelming and abundant. So where is it?

Let's remember, there was "no question" that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and it was a "slam dunk" that Iraq was supporting Osama bin Laden.

------------------------------------------------
“Rules are not necessarily sacred,
principles are.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Incitatus's picture
Submitted by Incitatus on

Perhaps by 19thC Dodge City standards, but certainly not by contemporary standards of law in this country.

So far the only hard evidence put forward is that certain members have committed statutory rape. Unless any of the children taken come forward with a complain that this was not consensual, and thus up the ante, the authorities are left with a very weak case that can only be brought against those for which the evidence of statutory rape is sufficiently convincing for a conviction.

To shout for a "hanging" simply because these people seem so damn guilty is quite frightening. It frightens me as an atheist, and as someone whom a large section of this country would consider to be "guilty" simply on the basis of my disbelief in a certain mythology. If Texas law authorities can march into a town and take everyone's kids on the basis of hearsay, and one or two possible cases of wrongdoing, then who's to say my local authorities, heavily Catholic that they are, couldn't march into my neighbourhood (full of atheists, Episcopalians, and Unitarians) and do the same? Simply because some Unitarian down the street got caught breaking the law?

If the evidence is so compelling, then let it be put before a jury for each individual offender. I'm quite mystified as to why there is such a passion to get these people locked up before the vast majority of them have even had a chance to defend themselves against accusations that haven't even been made against them individually.

Incitatus's picture
Submitted by Incitatus on

I sympathise with your passion on this subject. But some of your words are alarming.

"We don’t have much patience with fancy dress lawyers and their fancy way with words, and we don’t care much for snooty judges who let the guilty go free so they can continue to rape and pillage."

Spoken like a true citizen of Maycomb. Clearly, from the following statement, you know as well as I do that the problems of law in certain southern or Midwest areas of the states has rarely had anything to do with guilty men going free:

"The courts in Texas have been notorious for bending the law – well, maybe stretching is a better term – to ensure that the accused, guilty or not, are quickly found guilty and sentenced to long prison terms and even death without much opportunity for relief. That in this setting, where the dominant perpetrators are men and the principle victims are women and children, the courts should take such great care to not err on the side of the state’s assertions is, frankly, disgusting."

It is nearly always about innocent men taking a trip down the Green Mile. From this statement, it would seem that you are suggesting that, given Texas judges have a penchant for slamming the door on the accused before the evidence is out, that they ought to be just as ruthless and unjust in this case also. Just to be consistent. That's a bizarre train of reasoning, surely you can see that? Surely you can see that the cautionary manner in which they are dealing with this case is very much a step up in terms of their legal history.

As you correctly point out, there is a moral difference between not-guilty and innocent. However, I choose to go by the rule that it is better a guilty man go free than an innocent man go down. I understand that some choose to take the more complicated position that letting a few innocent people get taken down is an unfortunate side effect of making sure the guilty cannot re-offend. I cannot support this. It is only a superficially rational argument; considered thoroughly, it is profoundly non-rational and harmful to the stability of civil society.

If the evidence is as clear and irrefutable as many would have us believe (strangely, not one legal professional I know has gone on record to support this idea), then with competent prosecution the guilty will be indicted and convicted.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

But you have chosen to read me in parts. Yours to do, as you wish, but not right to misrepresent.

With the Texas courts, it is the inconsistency that I speak to. When the courts, reflecting the society which has empowered them, stray over the line of decency in railroading the innocent it is of course reprehensible. A travesty. Who would argue otherwise? Not I, not here nor anywhere.

These courts, however, only do so when the perceived threat is held to apply to the general public. When they see themselves as potential victims, they are more than happy to throw common sense and fairness and equity away to salve their own fears. But we see, from the rulings in this case, that the same overbearing enthusiasm for erring on the side of the state's accusation does not apply when the victims are only children and the perpetrators are their parents and religious leaders. In this case, the state is given no latitude; there is no bending in favor of protecting the innocent. For mere children, the courts are suddenly cautious of their powers.

I use incendiary language because I am angry, and I intend to convey that emotion clearly - I want to be heard. I speak frankly because I see there is no room for uncertainty in understanding. I speak harshly because I believe harshness is in order. I condemn any and all who would defend the FLDS or their actions and hide under the skirts of Justice by claiming a need to maintain respect for a false and predatory religion. I condemn all those who pretend that the rights of parents outweigh the rights of children, and I especially condemn the notion that children are protected by delivering them to the hands of those who have systematically abused them.

There is more than enough evidence. There has always been more than enough evidence. By all means, let it be shown; by all means, let us have trials and process and orderly progression. But just as was the case with the systematic abuse of children by the Catholic church, ignored for decades because of a fear of offending those who claim absolute perfection and absolute power from their delusions, this cabal of criminals has run free and unfettered and protected by religion for far too long - it is past time to bring it to a full stop.

I demand that the state do what needs doing to end the criminality. I have no qualms, none whatsoever, about making my accusations and calling for justice. If anything, I have been too temperate.

Incitatus's picture
Submitted by Incitatus on

Clearly, our concerns are not isolated.

It is now confirmed that the 911 call that instigated this whole sorry state-sponsored dog-and-pony show was completely bogus.

So not only have CPS failed to come up with any solid evidence to justify taking the children (beyond polyandry), they had no basis for a warrant in the first place.

400 kids got rounded up and shipped out because somebody heard that somebody else thought that something dodgy was going on.

What an absolute farce. And the sad part is that if there really was something dodgy going on, the state has completely undermined its credibility to the extent that it would have one hell of an uphill battle trying to make a conviction stick.

There should be a lot of red faces in CPS right now. And soon, a lot of sore asses and pink slips.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

the backers and apologists for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- unless of course you do hold that polygamy (not polyandry, which is the practice of multiple husbands) and child abuse are sacraments deserving of protection and reverence.

If you hold that, where do you stop holding that sacraments trump law?

Warren Jeffs' freedom in 2004-2006 wasn't in question. He was in Eldorado. He "spiritually married" at least two different girls under the age of consent; perhaps as many as four; girls who had been born in Utah or Arizona, and brought to Texas where they were given up to him for sex. One of the young women picked up in the Texas raid was from Canada.

The evidence doesn't just exist -- it abounds.
It's not just firsthand accounts from escaped women.
It's not speculation and media coverage alone.

But because "religion" is involved, we're far too quick to facilely turn a blind eye to rape, fraud, incest, child endangerment, child abandonment, and a corrupt society that has for generations behaved as an organized criminal enterprise.

The FLDS went on a propaganda mission -- and if you've never seen those earnest Mormon boys in their white shirts, ties, and bicycle helmets pedaling across Texas in the summertime, you have no idea how pitiable Mormons can make themselves appear *in* the *cause* of their *evangelism*.

You say, and I quote:

It is now confirmed that the 911 call that instigated this whole sorry state-sponsored dog-and-pony show was completely bogus.

So not only have CPS failed to come up with any solid evidence to justify taking the children (beyond polyandry), they had no basis for a warrant in the first place.

400 kids got rounded up and shipped out because somebody heard that somebody else thought that something dodgy was going on.

What an absolute farce. And the sad part is that if there really was something dodgy going on, the state has completely undermined its credibility to the extent that it would have one hell of an uphill battle trying to make a conviction stick.

There should be a lot of red faces in CPS right now. And soon, a lot of sore asses and pink slips.

I think you're wrong. I want you to give me factual answers to the following questions:

Why do you believe that CPS is to blame?

Why do you believe the state's case against the rapists is spoiled?

Why do you believe the state was wrong to move in response to a call to a family crisis center?

Had the news that the Texas local law enforcement officials received calls alleging child abuse at YFZ, and not responded, come out, there rightly would be a lot fewer employed police and Children's Protective Services staff tomorrow morning.

You would no doubt be among those calling for the heads of the irresponsible and lazy officials who looked the other way while children were abused.

"It is now confirmed that the 911 call that instigated this whole sorry state-sponsored dog-and-pony show was completely bogus."

Really? Where are the facts to back up your claim?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Judge Walther's ass too.

Due process, yessiree, let's have a bunch of it.

What was that quote from Judge Roy Bean?

Oh yeah; "First the trial, then the hanging."

Works for me.

Incitatus's picture
Submitted by Incitatus on

Why do you believe that CPS is to blame?

They provided insufficient evidence of abuse to justify removing 400 children from separate families in an entire town. All they had to go on was Warren Jeffs' criminal history and a lot of hearsay. I have no objection to the evidence against Warren Jeffs. But the crimes of Warren Jeffs do not justify the removal of so many children from so many families who have neither been charged with a crime nor convicted.

Why do you believe the state’s case against the rapists is spoiled?

Because they acted prematurely, unprofessionally, and incompetently, and as a result of this bungling the lawyers of any defendants that emerge (if anyone is even charged from all this) are going to have a field day demonstrating the inadequacies and illegal maneuvering of the CPS. Despite being contrary to reason, the argumentum ad hominem is one of the most devastating weapons in a lawyer's arsenal; the CPS have given the FLDS' legal representatives an absolute gift.

Why do you believe the state was wrong to move in response to a call to a family crisis center?

The authorities acted on a single anonymous phone call. This isn't unprecedented for an individual case, particularly if the address of the reported abuse has a history of previous incidents. However, the YFZ ranch does not constitute a single address (like an apartment is not a single address) and so there is no way in hell that the warrant justified removing children from multiple families for whom no direct complaint was made (this is the ACLU's case).

To make matters worse, the phone call is now suspected to have been fraudulent. Possibly from someone the authorities already knew to be a repeated caller.

Had the news that the Texas local law enforcement officials received calls alleging child abuse at YFZ...You would no doubt be among those calling for the heads of the irresponsible and lazy officials who looked the other way while children were abused.

If the calls weren't fraudulent and there was actually a glimpse of this abounding evidence, then perhaps.

“It is now confirmed that the 911 call that instigated this whole sorry state-sponsored dog-and-pony show was completely bogus.”

Really? Where are the facts to back up your claim?

Available with a quick Google search.

From the NYT,
"The case began on April 3, when Texas investigators, saying they were responding to a girl’s call for help, raided the 1,691-acre Yearning for Zion ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Eldorado, about 45 miles south of San Angelo.

The caller was never found, and investigators now suspect that the call was a hoax."

A key suspect being Rozita Swinton.

"The evidence doesn’t just exist — it abounds."

That's what I've heard. So where was all this evidence when judge Walters was reeling from the news that the main justification of the raid was likely a hoax? I'm sure she would have very much liked to see all this evidence, because it would have allowed for a serious saving of face. The burden of proof lies with the CPS, not the FLDS. Let's have less talk about the fact that there's boatloads of evidence out there somewhere, and more talk about what that evidence is and why it is compelling.

To clarify my position, I have no interest in defending these strange people and their most peculiar religion. I am only interested in preserving the principles of just law. I suspect that members of this weird cult are, like Mr. Jeff's, up to no good. I suspect. But suspicions are not sufficient cause for conviction, last time I heard, and suspicions directed against a few individuals does not deliver satisfactory cause to severely disrupt the families of a multitude of others whose only crime is a shared religion and shared zip code with the original small number of suspects.

The case against the CPS has absolutely nothing to do with religious freedom, but civil rights and law. It is not that we should allow men to molest little girls on the basis of religious tradition, but that we should prosecute such suspected individuals in a manner that is fair and respectful of their potential innocence.

If you are prepared to put forth the evidence and its sources, I'm more than willing to be convinced that the entire FLDS church is a gang of brainwashing child molesters. Although I will be mystified as to why this evidence didn't find it's way into the CPS archives where it could be used to justify their actions in the stead of a highly dubious crank call.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

You write: "If you are prepared to put forth the evidence and its sources, I’m more than willing to be convinced that the entire FLDS church is a gang of brainwashing child molesters."

Already done here, if you would only have looked for it. This is why you should take the time to educate yourself before you wade in late to a conversation and look foolish. Huge piles of evidence have been laid out here at Corrente. Click on Sarah’s name at the top right hand of the site, listed under Fellows. Scroll down her blog and read all of the previous posts and comments, including the many links provided.

I’ve written a lot in there. I’m not just some yump-yump that wandered in off the street on this. I moved to Utah in 1968, and rented an apartment from some very earnest and decent Mormons. They had adopted one of the FLDS Lost Boys; took him a while to open up and talk about it, they are all so deeply traumatized and riddled with shame, but he did open up and his story was horrific. I lived in the state for seven years. I met many women and many more men and boys who had escaped the FLDS or been cast out. They were all terribly sad.

I’ve been to Hildale and Colorado City on Short Creek. I’ve been to a lot of small towns in Colorado and Idaho where there are more polygs than not. I had polyg families as neighbors. I was involved for a while as an activist trying to get the state of Utah to investigate and put a stop to FLDS criminality. I still have a lot of friends in Utah and Idaho, and have traveled there regularly over the years. When I say the FLDS are evil, it isn’t out of petty religious bigotry or recent shallow emotion – it is because I know they are evil.

Here is a new book, Stolen Innocence from Ellen Walls, the young woman whose testimony under oath put FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs in prison. Read that, and weep for these young women who are raised like slaves, to be used.

Here is a new book The Secret Lives of Saints by Daphne Bramham, reviewed here by SocProf aka FrenchDoc here at Corrente.

Here is the book Escape by Carolyn Jessup, telling her horrific tale of captivity and systematic abuse as a plural “wife” under the FLDS.

Here’s Daughter of the Saints: Growing Up In Polygamy by Dorothy Solomon, a first-person true story that tries to present a balanced view, and broke my heart when I read it, she was so horribly groomed and conditioned.

Here is Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife by Irene Spencer, another heartbreaker about the terrible emotional hold and nightmarish consequence that comes from being raised in such an oppressive cult.

Here is His Favorite Wife: Trapped in Polygamy by Susan Ray Schmidt, another first-person account of the nightmare of conflicting emotion, guilt and sorrow that is every FLDS woman’s lot.

Here is God’s Brothel by Andrea Moore Emmett, a highly respected and multiple-award-winning journalist who presents the first-person accounts of 18 women who were raised and “married” into polygamy in the FLDS and other similar “religions.” The stories document in excruciating detail the systematic, ever-present, unrelenting coercion, domination and subjugation, pedophilia, rape, forced orgies, domestic violence, incest and welfare fraud that are the everyday fabric of life in these cults.

Now you just toddle along, Incitatus, and get caught up to speed. When you’ve finished this reading list and are competent to talk about the scope of evidence, stop back by; happy to chat.

I’ve got loads more, and each piece of the picture is more horrific than the last. There are stories I haven’t told here yet, stuff that the newspapers won't print, more nightmarish and horrific than I think anyone wants to hear about – this is, after all, a Family Blog.

************

UPDATE: As we speak, a secret grand jury is meeting in Texas reviewing the evidence collected at YFZ and the DNA for the children, mothers and male FLDS members. They're also looking at financial records collected in Utah and Arizona as well as the court record from the investigations that convicted the Prophet Jeffs and put the FLDS financial structure into Utah state receivership.

Plenty of evidence. Lots of due process. No shortage of rope, either.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

very separate situations.

Second: the women and children at YFZ were living in what amounts to dorm conditions -- one of the mothers could not remember the names of all the adult women who lived in her house, sharing her 'husband'. When that kind of testimony repeats two or three times in a group, it's proof of a pattern of behavior -- admissible in court.

The property is held communally, owned by the church (and/or its trust fund, as one trust administrator is working to determine). Previous reports indicate Warren Jeffs chose an "elect" from among FLDS membership to go to the Texas ranch -- a ranch whose purchase and buildings were financed with FLDS "offerings," some of which Jeffs may have fraudulently used to purchase, build and support YFZ -- which has a history of violating even the extremely lax Texas laws on environmental quality. (It's illegal in Texas to dump raw sewage upstream of drinking water sources, for example. The FLDS was sending its cesspool drainage straight into the watercourse above freshwater springs.)

CPS contended originally that the YFZ ranch was a single household. Given the practices FLDS admits to -- moving women and children around to reward the prophets' favorites, for example, and intermarriage among close cousins -- and given the absolute and ongoing lack of any of the 'adult women' in the compound showing any sign they understand that having a 50-something prophet, who has a living wife in another state, "spiritually marry" their daughters is in fact rape, I'd say it's one household.

Spiritually.
Mentally.
Physically.

One, indivisible, under "God".

CPS officials say that even though it has multiple homes, the property is one residence. They say that when investigators discovered some children were victims of sexual abuse — specifically, men "commanding sex" with young girls and women condoning the abuse — they decided all the children at the ranch were in danger, and state District Judge Barbara Walther agreed.

"They live together in a communal situation," agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said. "It's essentially the same address, the same physical location, just different buildings. It's a single community living under a similar belief system."

The entire Yearning for Zion Ranch pays taxes as a single entity, according to the Schleicher County Appraisal District.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Sarah, you'll feel better for this, I think. Appears the huge hulk of the law is swinging its attention onto the FLDS:

A task force examining polygamy-related crimes is gearing up. [Utah AG Mark] Shurtleff and his counterpart, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, are scheduled to meet next month with U.S. Justice Department officials, the FBI, the U.S. attorneys for Utah, Arizona and Nevada, as well as local law enforcement and prosecutors, to coordinate efforts.

And this as well:

Hours after signing an order releasing FLDS children from state custody, 51st District Judge Barbara Walther arrived at the Schleicher County Courthouse in Eldorado to swear in a grand jury that may be considering indictments related to the polygamous sect.

By the end of the day, 18 indictments had been issued....

News of the grand jury's meeting circulated among members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, creating concern about returning to their homes on the YFZ Ranch. [emphasis added - 18 indictments on the first afternoon is a boatload - scorched earth tactics!]

Creating concern amongst the FLDS? About damn time.

Credit is being given to Harry Reid for lighting a fire under the state AGs and the Feds to get this coordinated effort in gear, and not relenting when they initially resisted the idea. Good for Harry.

Incitatus's picture
Submitted by Incitatus on

I marked Dorothy Allred's book for a future purchase. It's actually worth going to her Amazon blog because she has an interesting take on these events, and voices some of my own concerns (read Apr 11th entry).

Perhaps in my "foolishness" I haven't made it clear that there are two separate issues here. The primary issue of this post was the legality of the CPS raid (and the fact that it was overturned). This issue is related, but very separate to, whether FLDS members will be found to be guilty of wrong doing (some of them may well be).

On the first issue, I have yet to see a substantial challenge to the view that the CPS acted unprofessionally and unlawfully. Indeed, the inciting incident, which is all important for the justification of the subsequent action, is now considered suspect (the anonymous phone call). Further, the authorities' dire incompetence will be a serious liability to any future charges they may hope to make against FLDS members. By cutting corners, CPS may have inadvertently made it easier for the guilty to walk free. Such is the punishment for not following due process.

On the second issue, which as I said I'm more than willing to be educated upon...

Huge piles of evidence have been laid out here at Corrente.

Piles and piles of evidence that some male FLDS members are abusers of women and children. Compelling evidence at that. However, the evidence is not indicative that all male FLDS members are abusers of women and children. An important difference for fools, judges and juries alike, and one which seriously undermines the actions of the Texas authorities.
On a related note, a key argument from the FLDS lawyers will probably be based on the statistical comparison of reported abuses within the ranch and other polygamist havens with those of non-polygamist areas. e.g. Inner cities are rife with incest, statutory rape, spousal abuse, particularly in economically deprived areas. The FLDS lawyers will want an explanation for the CPS' selectivity in choosing to use the scorched earth tactic in one instance, but not in othera. There may even be a 1st Amendment challenge in there somewhere; certainly if the ACLU gets more involved.

"Appears the huge hulk of the law is swinging its attention onto the FLDS:"

Again, better late than never. My argument has always been that the time for this to occur was before CPS marched in and took the children. However, what will become of all this is less than clear now that CPS has seriously compromised any charges that might be brought before a judge on the basis of evidence recovered from this raid, if that raid turns out to have been conducted illegally.

Sarah said,
"I’d say it’s one household"

Well, that issue is still being argued, but as it stands currently your opinion is in the minority. Either way, this is something that should have been straightened out long before the first officer set foot on the ranch.

In summary, it seems we can agree that the raid was a legal disaster, and that the children should not have been removed from their mothers (Dorothy Allred apparently agrees). We can also agree that there is highly compelling evidence that FLDS members are guilty of crimes. But we can also agree that just because some As are Bs, does not necessarily mean all As are Bs.

Or is logic the plaything of the "foolish"?

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I'm not surprised. They should've gotten a pile of evidence from those search warrants and law enforcement is going to feel pressure not to just ignore this issue given all the press. And, of course, federal agents and prosecutors are people, too, with their own families. They're going to want to get to the bottom of this to make sure kids aren't being hurt just as most of us would, only difference is that they have the tools and authority to do it.

But as I said in another thread, these cases aren't easy because the groups are so insular.

And good on Harry Reid.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Incitatus wrote:
Either way, this is something that should have been straightened out long before the first officer set foot on the ranch.

Really? You'd be okay with a family crisis center reporting a call from a woman claiming she was being beaten and raped, and NO response occurring until every legal nicety had been answered?

I'm not. That's not what "emergency response" means. That's not what "Child Protective Services" stands for -- the title of the agency suggests that had they not gone out on this call as expeditiously as they could get to the location, they would've been far more than derelict in their duties.

And again Incitatus writes:
In summary, it seems we can agree that the raid was a legal disaster, and that the children should not have been removed from their mothers.

Right. Absolutely. In a pig's eye.

Not a one of those mothers has said, even today, that the prophets and patriarchs are wrong for "spiritually marrying" girls aged 12. In a community as close-knit and coordinated as the FLDS, such silence is not golden; it's conspiracy. And Will Jessop's "clarification" statement yesterday is nothing more than a badly dressed-up admission that the FLDS has in the past condoned and encouraged underage marriage, aka child rape, aka sexual assault, aka pederasty and pedophilia.

Incitatus's picture
Submitted by Incitatus on

center reporting a call from a woman claiming she was being beaten and raped, and NO response occurring until every legal nicety had been answered?"

If by "legal nicety" you mean actually checking the legitimacy of the call and checking whether its tone and content is strikingly familiar to a known prank caller then, yes.

Would you be okay with having the authorities remove your children because a neighbour of yours - one who perhaps dislikes your faith or political stance - called them up and told them you were a child abuser? Wouldn't you like the authorities to at least ask for the callers name and address? Wouldn't you like them to make a house call and speak with you before they show up with armed agents and beat down your door? Because it's not just your rights they would be infringing by acting aggressively on a single bogus call; it also your children's rights at stake. Unless you think it would be in the interests of your children to be wrongfully removed from their mother on the basis of a fraudulent complaint, given limited visitation privileges, and left alone to be hounded by strangers desperate to justify their actions post hoc in whatever way possible. All this horror unleashed on your children on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. Are you really so sure the the end justifies the means to this extent?

"Not a one of those mothers has said, even today, that the prophets and patriarchs are wrong for “spiritually marrying” girls aged 12"

Why would they. Look at their clothes. They are, to all intents and purposes, a slightly less technologically stringent 19th century cult. It's only in the last century that the age of consent has been raised to 17. Surely, like me, you are more concerned with actual abuse against a woman or child's will and personal dignity, than the fact that this peculiar cult holds a historically and culturally common belief that a girl becomes a woman at puberty?

Part of the reason I'm skeptical of the vitriol being piled on these weird people is that I'm not at all convinced that this is only about child welfare. It strikes me that much of the issue stems from an inherent dislike for the choices made by the women in these cults. And the majority of these women are clearly there by choice and not by male intervention, as has oft been stated. That much has been made abundantly clear in the last couple of weeks, much to the embarrassment of the authorities who I believe wholly expected to see the cult fall apart once the men had been removed from the equation.

I'm interested to see what this legal probe reveals. It seems to be being conducted with a little more efficiency and professionalism than the raid (the individuals involved in the former have made a point of distancing themselves from the latter).

Who knows, maybe this will turn out to be an astounding victory or due process after all? A clear lesson that a methodical, reasoned approach is far more efficacious than a knee-jerk, reactionary response to bias propaganda.

ps My wife takes calls for a local women support charity helpline. By no means not the most common crank call (usually due to kids, drunks, and people looking for a free cab fare), but nevertheless a repeated and very sinister one, is the estranged husband (or friend of) calling to make a complaint against their estranged wife, who has custody of the children. The complaint often being something along the lines of child abuse or negligence. The intent being obvious. As a result, these charities work carefully with local law enforcement to ensure that crank calls are filtered out from legitimate calls. That this filtering apparently didn't take place before the CPS raid is highly dubious.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and I cannot convince you that for the most part these women are not making the choice freely and openly to stay in this situation, but have been spiritually and physically terrorized since infancy into accepting their "assigned lot in life" at the hands of these abusive creeps.