FLDS RaidThe FLDS Church is again making headlines, this time in Eldorado Texas, the latest FLDS compound.  This is the biggest news splash since the Warren Jeffs’ conviction last year on charges of accomplice to rape.  There are several MSM sources for this breaking story.  (My Update posted here).

One of the better stories appears in the Salt Lake Tribune:

An investigation into whether a middle-aged man married a teenage girl has spurred child services agents in Texas to remove 52 girls from an FLDS compound there. Eighteen of the 52 girls have been taken into state custody. The rest are being interviewed away from the compound. The girls range in age from 6 months to 17 years of age.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Patrick Crimmins, said he did not know why the children were removed.

A search and arrest warrant shows Texas authorities are investigating whether 50-year-old Dale Barlow married and fathered a child with a 16-year-old polygamy.

Barlow is not new to criminal sexual abuse investigations, having previously pled no contest to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor:

Barlow, 50, is a son of former Colorado City, Ariz., mayor Dan Barlow; he also was one of eight Colorado City men accused by Arizona prosecutors in 2005 of marrying underage girls and committing sex crimes.

He pleaded no contest in Superior Court in April 2007 to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, and a second charge was dropped. The victim was a 16-year-old girl with whom he had a son. He was later sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years on probation.

The Texas warrants, provided by the San Angelo Standard newspaper, allow police to arrest Barlow and seize records of his alleged marriage to the girl and records of a baby girl he may have fathered with the teenager. The baby is believed to be 8 months old, the warrant says. Barlow and the teenager are the only people named in the warrant. It’s unclear how an investigation into their relationship lead to the removal of 52 other girls.

Texas raid removes girls from FLDS compoundUnclear indeed how this type of investigation would result in the removal of 52 other girls.  Either 52 girls were named in these warrants or criminal complaints, or someone has gone a little overboard in this investigation.  I have not read anything in any of the media accounts that would suggest facts sufficient to support the wholesale removal of 52 other girls, or the armed response of the equivalent of a small army.

Certainly if there are facts supporting criminal allegations of child abuse, sexual abuse, or any other criminal violations, those facts should be thoroughly investigated, and prosecuted if warranted.  I am a bit troubled by the investigation focusing on a middle aged man who allegedly married a minor, which results in the removal of some 52 other girls from the compound.

The Tribune also reported the investigation began as a result of claims of sexual abuse:

Questions at the ranch. At the Texas ranch, investigators interviewed children throughout the morning. Schleicher County Attorney Raymond Loomis said a girl’s accusation that she was sexually abused triggered the raid, which began about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. “Some girl at the compound called the sheriff’s office and said she was being abused,” Loomis told The Salt Lake Tribune.

This version is contradicted by reports out of a San Angelo Texas newspaper:

Earlier today, Meisner confirmed that CPS responded to a complaint, but officials at the scene could not say whether the complaint was made from within or outside the ranch. A DPS spokesman declined to say how many people were being interviewed, or how many officers were involved.

Schleicher County Justice of the Peace James C. Doyle dismissed reports appearing in Utah newspapers that a specific allegation of sexual abuse triggered the complaint, calling it “hearsay” – one of several rumors circulating around Eldorado and repeated by another Schleicher County official.

Also troubling is the fact that these arrest and search warrants have apparently not yet been publicly released:

The warrants, signed by Tom Green County District Judge Barbara Walther, and the affidavits filed with them have not been released pending a decision on whether they can or should be made public, a court administrator said.

I have looked, and not yet found the actual search and arrest warrants, which I will post, if I can find them.  Other good media sources for this story include:

(Update 4/5/08 7:30 a.m.) This morning’s Deseret News reports that 167 children have been removed from the FLDS compound in Texas.   This seems like an astounding number.  If there were evidence sufficient for the state of Texas to remove 167 children from their homes, where did it come from, and what is it?  If there is that much evidence of child and sexual abuse, why did it take this long for Texas to raid this compound?  This story gets more bizzare as it develops.

(Further Update 4/5/08 8:00 a.m.) A new Salt Lake Tribune story reports that a Texas judge has now ordered the removal of all FLDS children, boys and girls, under age 18, from the FLDS compound.

For other bloggernacle discussion see Matt B’s post over a Mormon Mentality.  Also, BIV has a good post as well over at Hieing to Kolob.

USA Today

The Eldorado Success

Star Telegram

Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune (On why the raid may do more harm than good)

CNN

The worst captioned story belongs, not surprisingly to the New York Times, which contains the egregious error of describing the FLDS Church as a “Mormon” sect, which is of course just sloppy reporting.