So far..............No Evidence

by Warlock 44 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Warlock
    Sweep of polygamists' kids raises legal questions
    Email this Story Apr 25, 6:04 PM (ET) By MICHELLE ROBERTS

    (AP) Buses leave the San Angelo Coliseum grounds loaded with members of the Fundamentalist Church of...
    Full Image
    Google sponsored links
    Family under attack? - Face CPS or government corruption, falsehoods? You need new skills!
    Find a Lawyer - Free - Free, Confidential Lawyer Locator. Save Time - Describe Your Case Now!

    SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - The state of Texas made a damning accusation when it rounded up 462 children at a polygamous sect's ranch: The adults are forcing teenage girls into marriage and sex, creating a culture so poisonous that none should be allowed to keep their children.

    But the broad sweep - from nursing infants to teenagers - is raising constitutional questions, even in a state where authorities have wide latitude for taking a family's children.

    The move has the appearance of "a class-action child removal," said Jessica Dixon, director of the child advocacy center at Southern Methodist University's law school in Dallas.

    "I've never heard of anything like that," she said.

    (AP) Texas State Troopers provide escort and security as buses leave the San Angelo Coliseum grounds...
    Full Image
    Rod Parker, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, contends that the state has essentially said, "If you're a member of this religious group, then you're not allowed to have children."

    Attorneys for the families and civil-liberties groups also are crying foul. They say the state should not have taken children away from all church members living at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado.

    Church members said that not all of them practice polygamy, and some form traditional nuclear families. One sect member whose teenage son is now in foster care testified that she is a divorced single mother.

    "Of course, we condemn child abuse and we don't stand up for the perpetration of that," said Lisa Graybill, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. But "what the state has done has offended a pretty wide swath of the American people with what appears to be an overreaching action to sweep up all these children."

    State and local officials had been eyeing the sect suspiciously since it bought the ranch in 2003 and moved hundreds of its members in. They raided the property April 3, with heavy weapons and SWAT vehicles, after a female claiming to be a 16-year-old girl at the ranch called a family violence shelter and said her 49-year-old husband beat and raped her. That girl has not yet been identified.

    (AP) Darrell Azar, spokesman for Child Protective Services, comments during a news conference outside...
    Full Image
    State officials searched for a week for evidence of sexual abuse and rounded up all the children into mass shelters. As of Friday, the children had all been bused to foster group homes hundreds of miles away; only nursing infants still have their mothers with them.

    Texas law has a "very low burden for removal of children from a parent's home, at least temporarily," Dixon said.

    But state authorities are supposed to keep the children in their homes unless "a person of ordinary prudence and caution" believes there's a continuing and immediate danger to their safety.

    "There was a systematic process going on to groom these young girls to become brides," said CPS spokesman Darrell Azar, noting that the state had no way to protect from possible future abuse if they stayed on the ranch.

    "Removal is always the last option," he said. "In this case, there was no other choice."

    CPS officials have conceded there is no evidence the youngest children were abused, and about 130 of the children are under 5. Teenage boys were not physically or sexually abused either, according to evidence presented in a custody hearing earlier last week, but more than two dozen teenage boys are also in state custody, now staying at a boys' ranch that might typically house troubled or abandoned teens.

    Two teenage girls are pregnant, and although identities and ages have been difficult to nail down, CPS officials say no more than 30 minor girls in state custody have children. It's not clear how many other adolescent girls may be among the children shipped to foster facilities.

    The sect believes polygamy brings glorification in heaven and its leader Warren Jeffs is revered as a prophet. Jeffs was convicted last year in Utah of forcing a 14-year-old girl into marriage with an older cousin.

    Constitutional experts say U.S. courts have consistently held that a parent's beliefs alone are not grounds for removal.

    "The general view of the legal system is until there is an imminent risk of harm or actual harm, you can't do that," said UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh.

    Lawyers for the FLDS parents and civil rights groups complain that a chaotic mass custody hearing last week prevented state District Judge Barbara Walther from hearing any individual stories that might have led her to allow some parents to keep their children.

    One FLDS member who did testify said she and her husband and their three children form a traditional family and live in a separate house from other sect members. An FLDS expert who testified at the hearing and a former member of the sect say only about half the marriages in the sect are polygamous.

    Walther agreed to keep all the children in state custody after 21 hours of testimony in a hearing involving hundreds of lawyers.

    "That's the hard thing about this. They want to paint everyone with the same brush," said Shelly Greco, an attorney who represents several children in the case.

    An appellate court in Austin is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on a motion filed by dozens of mothers to get their children back. Walther has said each mother will get an individual hearing by June 5.

    If there was an underage mother in every home, the state might be able to make its case for removal of all the children, Dixon said, but it's likely that once individual hearings are held, some of the children may be headed back to their parents.

    Another legal issue may emerge if investigators discover the call from the 16-year-old girl was a hoax.

    Authorities are investigating whether the calls came from a woman in Colorado who has a history of making fake calls, but CPS officials and legal experts say the outcome of that investigation will likely have little bearing on the custody case, given that authorities went to the ranch believing the calls were legitimate and then found possible evidence of abuse.

  • Hope4Others

    I hope 4 the kids sake its not a hoax or its back to the Stalog pits for them, that would be a total unjust thing to happen. D#m cults! Free the children!


  • Robdar

    According to a Yahoo news report I read last week, the call that started it all is suspected to be a hoax. I was suspicious from the get go. Although I think the children should be protected, the way the Feds are conducting this investigation makes me angry.

  • Warlock
    According to a Yahoo news report I read last week, the call that started it all is suspected to be a hoax. I was suspicious from the get go. Although I think the children should be protected, the way the Feds are conducting this investigation makes me angry.

    And, as usual, the "rush to judgement crowd", who had been "judge, jury, and executioner", without evidence, are now, nowhere to be found.


  • What-A-Coincidence



  • 5go

    And, as usual, the "rush to judgement crowd", who had been "judge, jury, and executioner", without evidence, are now, nowhere to be found.


    As usual the child rape and law breaking in the name of Jesus crowd has spoken. By all acconts they were not feeding these kids the goverment was anyway. Most of the mothers were of goverment assistance, this bust was long over due.

    The next hour on Anderson Cooper they posed the same exact questions about the "hoax" caller and how it might ruin Texas' case, despite the fact that insiders had just told Larry probable cause is probable cause and the origin of the report is pretty irrelevant. And, you know, common sense. It isn't like the state of Texas asked a Colorado City woman to make a prank call to report child abuse.
    America is interested what will become of this case...but can't we wait until there's more to actually report on? All I can say is God bless the state of Texas, and they were very smart to keep their actions under wraps before the ranch raid - what a media circus this has become. Maybe CNN's anchors annoy me more than anything else - they should have just had Carol Jessup, Kathy Jo Nichols, and Mike Watkiss from KTVK interview the witnesses and legal experts. What place does Larry King - or Anderson Cooper - even have, besides asking asinine questions?

  • yknot

    I am feeling HOAX, legally grounds for dismissal or at the very least exclusion of any evidence gained.

    But hey we are talking about the Texas CPS....same CPS who removed children from a home during summer vacation because they were homeschoolers. Yea during summer vacation....

    For many of us in Texas the CPS is a joke (too little and too late action or overboard and unnecessary) with far to much over-reaching power.

    What to do now?.....

    DNA test the kids and prosecute for statutory rape. (this can and will be challenged if there is no 16 yrs old caller, during appeals)

    CPS will keep the kids until some hot-shot lawyer takes them on, which they will hand majority (except those who request not to go back or whose mothers have chosen to leave the FLDS) back over to the moms and then insist on inspection visits until the sect builds a new compound in another state/country and it's members leave Texas.

    Either way with the call a hoax.....The CPS has once again gone in guns ablazing.

    Additionally parents have the right to refuse the CPS initially if the parents have their children examined by a personal physician and the physician writes a letter stating the child is healthy and unabused.

    I have a list by the door that explains the rights of a CPS investigative initial visit and what lies the CPS or police escort commonly tell parents to gain access to children. (I have the list because I breastfeed and homeschool....both have been CPS issues for some unfortunate parents in Texas). Once the CPS has possession of a child they can strip the rights of the parent very quickly and often threaten parents who have handed over their children under false pretenses of CPS or police officials assertions.

  • 5go

    No evidence yeah right.

    SAN ANGELO, Tex. — A judge on Friday ordered that all 416 children seized by Texas authorities in the raid on a polygamist religious sect be held in protective custody by the state pending further investigation into whether they had been abused, or were at risk of abuse in their community.

    After hearing two days of testimony, the judge, Barbara Walther, issued a terse statement from the bench at Tom Green County Court saying that she had also ordered maternal and paternal testing on all the children, who range in age from infants to 17-year-olds, and expedited DNA and fingerprint testing of their parents as well.
    Judge Walther emphasized that her decision was preliminary and that “a safe environment” for the children was paramount, now and in the future.

    The next hearing to update the status of the children and the investigation will be held on or before June 5, the judge said.

    The case, arising from a raid beginning April 3 at the Yearning for Zion ranch, about 45 miles from here in the small town of Eldorado, has gripped legal experts and child welfare authorities for its scale — the largest raid on a polygamist group in more than 50 years — and for the tangle of law and logistics raised by the questions of custody and religion.

    The ranch, really a self-contained community, has been operated since 2003 by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or F.L.D.S., which broke off from the mainstream Mormon Church when the Mormons disavowed polygamy more than a century ago.

    But questions about the raid itself and what prompted it have continued to deepen as well, even as the first round of hearings was resolved.

    On Friday, the Texas Rangers said in a statement that they were investigating a Colorado woman, Rozita Swinton, 33, as a “person of interest” in calls placed to a crisis center hot line here in late March.

    The authorities have said they launched their raid after a girl’s phone call to an abuse hot line. They said that she gave her name as Sarah and that she said she was 16, pregnant and being abused by her 50-year-old husband. But they have been unable to locate the girl after two weeks, and the F.L.D.S. families have said they think the call was a hoax.

    The police statement on Friday said items found in Ms. Swinton’s Colorado Springs home through a search warrant produced “several items that indicated a possible connection between Swinton and calls regarding the F.L.D.S. compounds.”

    Ms. Swinton has an unlisted number, and other efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.

    The judge’s decision to continue holding the children for now produced a mostly quiet reaction outside the courthouse.

    A lawyer for four of the mothers, Tim Edwards, said that his clients would comply with the court’s orders and “do everything in our power to turn the situation around and return the children back to their parents, which we firmly believe it is in their best interest to be.”

    A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Marleigh Meisner, said she thought the judge had done a good job, and emphasized that the raid had not been about religion.

    “This is a situation that involved the protection of children,” Ms. Meisner said. “This is about children, keeping children safe from abuse and neglect.”

    The families and their lawyers, almost from the beginning, have said the complete opposite: that the raid was all about religion. And in making their argument to Judge Walther on Friday, they kept with that message.

    Lawyers for the families said the state’s justification for the raid was flimsy and tainted by bias against the F.L.D.S. community. Evidence that older men had married or had sex with girls as young as 15 — in violation of Texas law, and a core plank of the state’s decision to remove the children — was inconclusive, they said. That a teenage girl becomes pregnant is by itself not evidence of child abuse, they said, let alone an indictment of the entire community where she lives.

    “C.P.S. is trying to put the church on trial,” said Rod Parker, a lawyer and spokesman for the church, referring to the Texas Division of Child Protective Services. “In reality what it’s turning into is that C.P.S. is on trial for their high-handed and precipitous tactics in removing these children.”

    The first witness for the families, William John Walsh, who described himself as a theological expert, said the church did not hold as part of its written theology that under-age girls should marry older men. The church’s prophets, Mr. Walsh told the court, decide when a couple is ready, but the liturgy itself takes no position.

    Mr. Walsh said the breakaway sect did not teach, “ah, let’s marry an under-age girl.” The second witness, a mother from the community, Merylin Jeffs, 29, told Judge Walther that she was willing to move away from the ranch if necessary to protect her 7-year-old daughter, Marva. Ms. Jeffs said she and Marva had never been separated until the raid. Ms. Jeffs said she would not allow her daughter to marry before age 18, “no matter the consequences.”

    Neither side presented detailed evidence about the individual children seized in the raid.

    “There is a culture of young girls being pregnant by old men,” said Angie Voss, an investigator with Child Protective Services, who participated in the raid and interviewed girls at the ranch. Ms. Voss told the court she found evidence that “more than 20 girls, some of whom are now adults, have conceived or given birth under the age of 16 or 17.”

    Judge Walther was not asked to determine final custody for the children. Under Texas law, further hearings must be held in 60 days — the June 5 hearing date in this case — and then again at six months if a child is removed from the home. In that case, a trial, possibly by a jury, would decide final custody after a year.

    Though this is hardly an ordinary case, data from the Texas child protective system show a preference for keeping children in the care of families or relatives. In about two-thirds of custody cases, children ultimately return to families or relatives, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group in Austin. Children from roughly the remaining one-third of cases end up in long-term foster care or are adopted.

    But the center’s executive director, Scott McCown, a former judge, said the percentages of children returned to families were lower in abuse cases, and lower still in instances of sexual abuse.

  • White Dove
    White Dove

    At least the feds didn't come in shooting. I'm not exactly clear on what happened at Waco, but I know that the leaders felt forced to kill everyone. Some of them didn't want to die. The feds are screwed up.

  • Warlock

    No evidence yeah right.

    SAN ANGELO, Tex. — A judge on Friday ordered that all 416 children seized by Texas authorities in the raid on a polygamist religious sect be held in protective custody by the state pending further investigation into whether they had been abused, or were at risk of abuse in their community.


    So now you have FAITH WITHOUT EVIDENCE, right?


Share this