12 children from polygamist sect reunited with parents


The Associated Press

May 23, 2008 at 8:05 PM EDT

SAN ANGELO, Texas — State child welfare authorities on Friday appealed a stinging court ruling that said their seizure of more than 440 children from a polygamist sect's ranch was unjustified, but they also agreed to reunite 12 children with their parents while the case moves on.

The agreement narrowly specifies 12 children, some of whose parents had filed a motion with a state district court in San Antonio for their release from state foster care.

Lori Jessop cried when she and her husband, Joseph, were reunited with their daughter and two sons.

“The little boy just grabbed for his daddy,” when CPS workers handed him over, said their attorney Rene Haas.

Child Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins declined to comment on the agreement.

CPS agreed to allow the parents to live with their children in the San Antonio area under state supervision, said Teresa Kelly, a spokeswoman for Mr. Haas. The families cannot return to the Yearning For Zion ranch, where they lived before the raid.

Aside from mothers staying with their infants in foster care, no other parents from the west Texas ranch have been allowed to stay with their children.

CPS's case for removing all children from the ranch was thrown into doubt Thursday when the Third Court of Appeals ordered a lower-court judge to rescind her decision giving the state custody of more than 100 of the children. The ruling was broad enough to cover nearly every child swept up in the April raid on the ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

CPS said in its appeal to the Texas Supreme Court that the appeals court was wrong to say that the vast majority of children at the ranch did not face the sort of extreme danger state law requires for them to be removed without a court order. The agency cited evidence it said showed that the church pushed teenage girls into spiritual marriages with older men.

“This case is about adult men commanding sex from underage children; about women knowingly condoning and allowing sexual abuse of underage children; about the need for the department to take action under difficult, time-sensitive and unprecedented circumstances,” the state agency said in its appeal.

The state asked to keep the children in foster care while the case is reviewed.

The limited agreement CPS offered covers 12 children who belong to three families.

Lori and Joseph Jessop had been scheduled to appear in Bexar County district court on their motion to release their three children – ages 4, 2 and 1 – but CPS offered the agreement instead, Ms. Kelly said.

Similar agreements in the near future are unlikely; the couple filed their motion in a different court than the other families.

State officials said in their Supreme Court filing that it would be impossible to return all children covered in Thursday's ruling because they have not determined which children belong to which parents, and DNA tests were incomplete. The appeals court ruling technically applies only to the 38 mothers who filed the complaint.

In justifying their removal of the children from the ranch, Child Protective Services cited as “documented” sexual abuse a statement from a girl who said she knew a 16-year-old who is married with a 5-month-old baby; and the statement from another girl that “Uncle Merrill” decides who and when she will marry. The state also cited five underage pregnant girls.

Authorities also said the appeals court overstepped in its ruling because a lower court had discretion to rule in the custody case.

Attorneys for the parents whose case is under high-court consideration urged the justices to reject the state's appeal, saying their children “are being subjected to continuing, irreparable harm every day that they are separated from their parents.”

Rod Parker, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said the appeal was no surprise “although one would hope that at some point they would realize the futility.”

The parents were prepared for an extended legal battle, he said.

“They're hopeful to get on with their lives, but in reality, they understand,” he said.

The agency accused parents of being uncooperative and not providing proper identification – though in dozens of individual custody hearings this week, parents provided state-issued birth certificates. Other sect members mistakenly believed to be minors also provided drivers' licenses as proof of their age.

The Third Court of Appeals said the state acted hastily.

“Even if one views the FLDS belief system as creating a danger of sexual abuse by grooming boys to be perpetrators of sexual abuse and raising girls to be victims of sexual abuse ... there is no evidence that this danger is 'immediate' or 'urgent,”' the court said.

“Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may some day have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal,” the court said.

The children were taken into custody more than six weeks ago after someone called a hot line claiming to be a pregnant, abused teenage wife. The girl has not been found and authorities are investigating whether the calls were a hoax.

Five judges in San Angelo, about 60 kilometres north of Eldorado, had been holding hearings on what the parents must do to regain custody when the appeals decision was issued. Those hearings were suspended after Thursday's ruling.

The custody case has been chaotic from the beginning. During the first round of hearings, held two weeks after the April 3 raid, hundreds of lawyers crammed into a courtroom and nearby auditorium, queuing up to voice objections or ask questions on behalf of the mothers, who were dressed in trademark prairie dresses and braided hair.

The state conceded this week that at least 15 of the 31 mothers being held in foster care as minors were actually adults; one is 27.

The state has struggled for weeks to establish the identities of the children and sort out their tangled family relationships. The youngsters are in foster homes all over the state, with some brothers or sisters separated by as much as 600 miles.



Commentary in the Globe and Mail

Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: Texas CPS knew the children were in danger and in need of protection but lacked sufficient evidence. They decided to do "pull a fast one", to do indirectly what they they could not or did not do directly. Firstly, they had a stack of evidence from former members. Larry King on CNN had some very revealing interviews. The women looked like programed robots trained and coached to look like angelic liars. The emotional abuse is obvious. Take the fact that the sect expels a very large number of young men who are told, go out and recruit a wife and you can come back. Just imagine living your life in the terror of being excommunicated with your entire world? This sect, controls their members with that fear of excommunication every effectively. The F-LDS are not the only religious sect to engage in the chronic wide spread psychological abuse of their members that starts at birth and ends with excommunication or death.

Yes, they have religious freedom but not a license to engage in the "psychological abuse" and thats not political heresy, its very obvious wide spread systemic abuse that denies children their right to develop their own personalities without never ending fears of excommunication.

The ladies interviewed looked and acted like zombies. The sect is getting legally savvy but the CPS in Texas are just making lip service to the Appellate decision by sending a dozen kids back.

The state of Texas can now only collaterally attack the ruling indirectly. Expect a stack of legislation from home schooling to a greater legislative consideration of childhood psychological abuse let alone psychological abuse of male and female teenagers.

In Canada, the polygamy can be solved with the legislation already in place. The fact is, few men can afford to have serial wives and pay support. -cont- Ottawa Mens Centre dot com

Posted 24/05/08 at 6:30 AM EDT

Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: 2 cont- Polygamy We need to consider Canadian Islamic women who end up being the 2nd 3rd or even 4th wife by way of a "blessing" of a sympathetic imam like Aly Hindy. They too end up in fear of being social outcasts being alienated from their community founded on their religion, that has conflicts with Canadian law.
Islamic women have legal recourse, its called child support, few men can afford to engage in serial marriages and pay support. Take Safa Rigby for example with her five kids. Hubby conveniently sent her away for a year in Egypt to "raise the four children in a more Islamic environment" while marrying two other women in Toronto while she was away, all with the blessing of Ali Hindy whose selfish ideas of matrimony and parenting read like a list of symptoms of a severe personality disorder. Take extreme selfishness for example. How can one man support an additional family while being a 100% parent to 5 children from a 'first wife". It's abuse, and Canadian women raised in religious sects deserve better especially when that sect practices polygamous marriages that abuse their members. The obvious victims are women and children, what is not so obvious is that if a sect encourages one man to have several wives, just how do they explain the fact that males disappear from their equation. The F-LDS claim "there are not enough good men". Woo there, just how did that come about? How come the girls are good and 2/3rds of the boys are bad enough to be kicked out to go find their own wives? That's abuse, not obvious but insidious. Children need a mother and a father after separation without the church or state failing to protect a child's right to a mother and a father after separation. Canada needs a legal presumption of equal parenting that also addresses the needs of children to grow up in environments free of long term systematic psychological abuse. Ottawa Mens Centre dot com

Posted 24/05/08 at 6:52 AM EDT




Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: The R_LDS really should not be referred to as a "religion", its a cult, a cult of incredible abuse of power. Their cult is founded on a history that certain men have the divine right to tell any woman that god commands them to have sex with them. "to have women sealed to them as wives" according to the "doctrine of plurality of wives". Their Prophet Joseph Smith apparently was one hell of talker. He not only convinced a large number of women that god told him to tell them to sleep with him but he engaged in financial fraud, attempted to open his own bank issue his own currency and when that failed he deciced to start his own social order. He did that by convincing other men that god was talking to them to and they too could go and tell women that god was commanding them to sleep with them. Just take a look at the pictures of those early "founders" and you can see their resemblances in the current members. Their children are brought up with "the fear of god". Even Joseph Smith claimed that an angel from heaven then appeared before him with a drawn sword, threatening him with destruction unless he went forward and obey the commandment." - to go forth and multiple with who ever he felt like it. Obviously those with such "divine power know its illegal and use their instilled fear of the wrath of god and excommunication to get anyone in their cult to say what ever it takes to keep their prophets out of trouble with the law. Obviously they are all going to lie their heads off to avoid displeasing their "prophets". It's a fundamental principle that its illegal for a person in a position of power to have sex with people under their control. The Texas CPS need to ensure that their inherited culture that fosters abuse no longer places their children at risk by having an unbreakable fears and beliefs that breeds a culture perfectly groomed for abuse with little fear of facing legal consequences. Thats got to change. Ottawa Mens Centre dot com

Posted 24/05/08 at 7:29 PM EDT

You (Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada) wrote: Children at F LDS apparently dont know who their mother's are. Women are used as "breeders", after breast feeding is finished by about the age of one, children are placed in commune care. Many don't know who their mother's are and even more don't know who their father's are.

They talk about a "few good men", what is "fundamental" to the problem is that F LDS was started by one fraudulent depraved individual who lacked empathy, compassion, honesty and loyalty. He simply preyed on venerable women and formed a church for the purpose of having sex with dam near anyone woman he fancied by telling them god ordered it. Children need love and affection from a mother and a father, commune incubators destroy a sense of identity, it turns out clones with absolute faith that god will punish them if they don't do as "god wills". Its a sick depraved breeding ground for child abuse and to perpetuate an endless cycle of dysfunctional human beings who will breed ever more generations of children programed to be clones all based on one depraved individual who had something like 35 known wives. It's a sick sad story that needs a conclusions and lets hope the courts in Texas come up with an appropriate solution. Ottawa Mens Centre dot com

Posted 24/05/08 at 11:04 PM EDT



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