CNN now reports the State of Texas has taken over 400 children from the FLDS compound, and disrupted their family life, keeping the mothers and the children from their fathers: (previous FLDS raid post)
The children are being kept at a temporary shelter at historic Fort Concho in nearby San Angelo while authorities investigate whether a child bride gave birth on the ranch at age 15.
The children in state custody are joined at the shelter by 133 women, most of them mothers, who were taken during the past few days from the sprawling Yearning for Zion ranch, said Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for the state’s Child Protective Services agency.
The women are free to return to the 1,900-acre compound, officials said, but many have chosen to remain. At this point, officials said, the children’s fathers are not permitted to see them.
It seems a bit disingenuous to suggest the mothers are free to leave their children in State custody and return to the compound without them. Sure, what Mother in their right mind would do that?
The good news appears to be that there is going to be some due process involved in this mess. They are going to appoint lawyers and hold hearings:
Court proceedings began Monday to determine whether there is enough evidence to remove the children from their homes on the ranch, which is near Eldorado, Meisner said. A hearing is scheduled April 17.
The children will be appointed lawyers and legal guardians in about two weeks, she added.
So, how many lawyers and guardians are they going to appoint–one for each child? That’s a lot of lawyers and guardians. How much of this will be public record? I have yet to see any published copies of the original arrest and search warrants.
Law enforcement officials would not provide many details of their investigation, but Meisner said the 401 court affidavits being filed Monday should shed some light on the alleged abuse.
On March 31, a 16-year-old called and reported physical and sexual abuse on the ranch, authorities said. She said she was married to a 50-year-old man. Authorities are looking for evidence the girl had a child at the age of 15.
It remains unclear whether the girl who reported being abused is among the children being interviewed — or was whisked away from the compound under a different name before authorities arrived.
This is the most amazing aspect of this fiasco. Law enforcement won’t provide details. The original arrest and search warrants don’t appear to be public yet. The allegations come from one 16 year old girl, who authorities despite having turned the compound upside down can’t seem to locate. Assuming the allegations of the 16 year old girl to be true, how on earth do those allegations support the wholesale armed invasion of an entire community? And, there is apparently some confusion about the 50 year old man who is the subject of the arrest warrant:
Barlow was sentenced to jail last year after pleading no contest to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, the AP said.
Barlow was ordered to register as a sex offender for three years while on probation, the wire service reported. Barlow’s probation officer, Bill Loader, told The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah that he was in Arizona and did not know his accuser.
It remained unclear, the spokeswomen said, whether that was the same Dale Barlow named in their warrant. They acknowledged the man they are seeking might not be in Texas, but said they had no other details about his whereabouts.
If you are going to forcefully take over 400 children and some 100 plus women away from their homes, husbands and fathers, aren’t you going to need a little more than the allegations of one 16 year old girl? Aren’t you going to want to know the actual identity of the alleged perpetrator of the child abuse?
Finally the FLDS are exerting their legal rights. The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting:
For the first time, the FLDS have responded to the state raid on the YFZ Ranch that began last Thursday and is just now nearing completion. In five filings released today, Isaac Jeffs and Merrill Jessop said the sect’s constitutional rights were violated in a massive search that was overly broad and vague in its focus.
Attorneys Evan Pierce-Jones and Nathan Butler of San Angelo and Patrick T. Peranteau of San Antonio are representing Jessop and Isaac Jeffs, who also filed documents objecting to the raid on behalf of the FLDS church.
A hearing is set for Wednesday before 51st District Judge Barbara Walther to hear the mens’ motions. The men say it is “impossible” that the sealed affidavit that triggered the investigation at the ranch listed sufficient evidence to search “each and every residence, structure, school, vehicle, place of business, temple or other facility.”
The men also point out that the arrest and search warrants targeting Dale Barlow are moot since he has been located in Colorado City, Ariz.
I hope these hearings will be televised on Court TV and that the warrants will be released and published in the press. I have to agree with the FLDS legal position that the wholesale invasion of the FLDS compound by the state of Texas is constitutionally troubling. The Constitution is meant to protect unpopular religious practice and belief against the excess of the State. Let’s hope that it does.
Deseret News (FLDS lose custody of kids)
Deseret News (Attorneys hired to defend FLDS members)
Deseret News (Texas neighbors respond to raid)
Salt Lake Tribune (401 FLDS kids in custody)
San Angelo (Courts brace for onslaught)
Houston Chronicle (400 children in custody)
MSNBC (534 leave polygamist ranch)