Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Big Love in West Texas

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
I can understand executing a search warrant at the Eldorado polygamist compound to look for a 16 year old girl who phoned in an anonymous complainant about her forcible marriage at 15 to a 50-year old. But I don't immediately see under what authority the Department of Public Safety forcibly removed more than 200 women and children from the compound in the process. Indeed, "A caravan of K-9 unit vehicles were seen headed down the road to the compound on Sunday morning." But they've already removed everyone who might be the victim (at this time they still haven't identified her), what are they looking for with the dogs?

That must be quite a search warrant some judge signed off on, though I suppose we should be thankful they didn't bring in ATF again and burn the place down like in Waco. This whole episode makes me uncomfortable for many reasons, more like government persecution of a religion and lifestyle than the investigation of a specific crime. I'm very interested to hear readers' views on the topic, particularly any attorneys who might have opinions on the church-state implications of the DPS raid on the compound and the forcible evacuation of non-suspect residents.

UPDATE: A more current total is 401 children removed from the compound, and "133 women have voluntarily joined the children, who are being held at an historic site, Fort Concho, that includes facilities for lodging." The San Angelo Standard Times has a good writeup of the legal processes so far, declaring:

State law no longer requires emergency 24-hour hearings after CPS removes a child from parental custody, instead leaving the timing at the discretion of the judge, who in these cases is 51st District Judge Barbara Walther.

"The judge can waive that hearing," said Debbie Brown, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Tom Green County, "and apparently, she's done that."

The Standard Times adds that the Fort Concho site:

lacks capacity for the total number of people removed from the ranch, Meisner said.

Authorities have arrested one person at the FLDS' Schleicher County compound, but the suspect sought since Thursday remains at-large.

The person arrested faces a misdemeanor charge of interfering with the duties of a public servant, said Lisa Block, an Austin-based spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

The search seems overbroad as hell. However, I think they found at least one underage pregnant girl. How far does that stretch the search for general abuse?

Drug dogs? Or corpse dogs?

rage said...

I'm uncomfortable with this too. This smacks of Waco, going in with federal agents on a trumped up warrant with a state charge. No feds here, but I seriously question the raid on the merits.

Anonymous said...

Don't you oppress me.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a huge fishing expedition to me.

already outta here said...

A personal pet peeve...this cult does not practice polygamy. Polygamy is having multiple spouses - gender unspecified. In polygamy people of both genders can have multiple spouses. What this cult practices is polygyny - that's where only men get to have multiple wives.

Anonymous said...

I personally dont think it will be a stretch to show just cause for the search and removal of all the children in the compound. History has shown us that the groups, this one in particular, ie, Warren Jeffs, have sexually exploited and abused young girls for years, going back decades. It is not unusual for this group to offer a girl of 14-15 to a nasty old man. This is called Pedophilia and it IS illegal. Why would anyone, unless you are a sex offender yourself, not applaud the entire state of Texas for at least attempting to stop the sexual abuse here. There is a difference between being an adult polygamist who makes a choice to live the lifestyle and a young child who is born into a life of being groomed for and then being molested by the people that you have learned to worship under the name of the Lord. None of those children should even remain in the care of their mother's, who have allowed the abuse and/or know what's coming for their daughters.

Anonymous said...

IT DOESNT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE WHAT THE PEOPLE IN THE COMPOUND CALL WHAT THEY ARE DOING, IT IS ILLEGAL. TELL ME WHAT SOCIETY APPROVES OF OVERAGED AND PROBABLY OVERWEIGHT NASTY OLD MEN HAVING SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH ANY PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 18, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY HAVE NO SAY OVER IT. THATS GROSS.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So far, fwiw, I've heard an unconfirmed claim that one underage child was found either married, pregnant or both. That's pretty thin grounds for seizing 400 kids, unless there's a lot more too it.

There has been lots of speculation since Lawrence v. Texas about how that decision would affect the status of polygamists (or "polygynists"). One imagines that if ACLU or some other constitutional legal eagles get involved, the mass seizure of children from their parents may be the kind of case that tests those new limits against real-world alternative family structures all the way to SCOTUS.

I chose the title of this post, 2:24, precisely to emphasize, as does the HBO drama by the same name, that "There is a difference between being an adult polygamist who makes a choice to live the lifestyle and a young child who is born into a life of being groomed for and then being molested by the people that you have learned to worship under the name of the Lord."

Pedophiles should be prosecuted, no doubt, which is why my post suggested no complaint with a search warrant to go after any individual perpetrator. But the mass removal of 400+ kids from their families on essentially religious grounds strikes me as fundamentally unconstitutional.

I'm sure the courts will ultimately decide, and maybe more is going on than authorities have so far claimed. But I generally think it's wrong to punish groups for the crimes of individuals, which is what it sounds like is happening here.

already outta here said...

Here's the thing, even many of the adults (especially the women) in this sect and others like it aren't freely chosing this lifestyle...they too were born into the group and groomed for a life that few people would really freely choose. That brainwashing doesn't magically disappear at age 18.

That's part of why I get so incensed about the distinction between polygamy and polygyny. I myself am polyamorous and have freely chosen that lifestyle well into adulthood. However, I have a serious issue with groups that ONLY allow men to have multiple partners. That's sexist bullshit pure and simple. Just like marrying a 14 year old girl against her will to a man old enough to be her father is pure bullshit.

If this sect really practiced open, non-sexist polygamy between free and consenting adults or both genders...that would be one thing. But this is something else entirely. It's yet another example of the extremes of sexism some people will go to and try to justify in the name of religion.

Ron in Houston said...

As much as I find these peoples views strange, I have a lot of concern with how this is being handled.

I think the state does have an interest in making certain that a 14 year old girl is not made into pregnant child bride for some wacky religious weirdo.

Doran Williams said...

I wonder if those two or three people above who have supported this example of wretched police excess, because of some indefinite danger to all those children -- not because there were allegations of pedophilia being practiced against all of the children -- would feel the same way if a similar raid were to be carried out against a Catholic Church or monastery? Haven't there been many, many more documented cases of pedophilia by Catholic priests than by this particular sect in El Dorado?

Eathan said...

Because of the history of this group, the actions by the state and federal government were justified. If it is happening to 1 child, I'm sure it's happening to more. The state has the right to investigate any claim of child abuse. If you don't allow them access to investigate, they will act accordingly so they can protect the children.

With a ranch of this size, I'm sure they will search the property with canine and other technology.

Anonymous said...

Not to be too technical, or to downplay the disgusting nature of this whole thing but the sexual incidents being referred to with 14 year olds and adults is not pedophilia.

That being said the state has not "seized" 400 children. Last I heard last night something like 20 had been placed in CPS custody.

I think many of these women would love to see all these sick men get their legal due and give the women the property....

TexasYellowDog said...

"State law no longer requires emergency 24-hour hearings after CPS removes a child from parental custody"

This is shocking! Four years ago Texas CPS removed on ridiculous grounds an infant on from a family just coming home from the hospital. After a half day calling lawyers familiar with the court and who would take the case (not many), the removal was reversed at the 24 hour emergency hearing. Further while in CPS care, special medical orders for the kid were not followed. Imagine having to wait 30 days start bonding with your infant son and not knowing about his care.
That $2500 would have been better spent on support for the children.

txwordpounder said...

The 79th legislature were busy bees passing legislation 2005 targeting FLSD. Read more here.

Anonymous said...

already outta here, the specific word may be polygyny, but the law uses the word polygamy and makes no gender distinctions.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 9:24: CPS has only taken 18, but 416 kids were forcibly removed from the compound, with their mothers "voluntarily" going with them. That sounds like they were "seized" to me.

Anonymous said...

Charles Kiker here:

Like Grits, I had an uneasy feeling about this thing from the start. Conflicting interests are involved: (1) the interest in protecting young girls (young boys?) from sexual predation; (2) the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.

Where is the girl who supposedly made that call from a cell phone? Where did she get that cell phone on this compound? Is there a record of that call? Who really made that call?

Yes, I am suspicious because America, and Texas, are rife with sexual hypocrisy. On the one hand, teens are encouraged by popular media, music, and advertising to be sexual. It is portrayed as the norm. On the other hand is this puritanical obsession regarding sex, and the labeling of sexual offenders as sexual predators for life. This can give boys who are men under the law a permanent criminal record for engaging in consensual sex.

Anonymous said...

Only a MORON would say that the acts of a man over the age of 18 that involve sexual intercourse with a female age 14 is not PEDOPHILIA. What do you not understand? I dont see excessiveness here, either. They had NO CHOICE to go investigate the allegations that were made and to make appropriate decisions at the time. If in the end, it turns out to be completely different than thought and there are no children in danger, then the children will go back home. None of the adult women were "seized" either. They would have been given a choice--that is to leave with their children or have the children removed from their care. They were given a CHOICE. It seems to me that the ones that CHOSE to leave, made a good decision, one that was hopefully in the best interest of the child. I wont be surprised to hear that some of the women who have been forced into the lifestyle were ready to leave the compound. How gross would it be to be subjected to that?

Anonymous said...

ALL YOU PEOPLE WHO DONT FEEL THAT THE STATE HAD A RIGHT TO GO TO THE COMPOUND AND INVESTIGATE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE THAT WOULD BE BERATING THEM IF THEY HAD NOT INVESTIGATED A REPORT WHEN TRAGEDY STRUCK....SAME GOES FOR THE PERSON WHO STATED THAT CPS REMOVED AN INFANT FOR A "RIDICULOUS" CHARGE. IN MOST OF THOSE CASES, EITHER THE HOSPITAL STAFF, IE THE NURSES, DOCTOR, OR CASEWORKER WERE WORRIED AND THIS IS USUALLY NOT FOR A "RIDICULOUS" REASON. IN A MAJORITY OF THOSE CASES IN WHICH AN INFANT IS NOT ALLOWED TO GO HOME, THERE HAS BEEN AN EXTENSIVE HISTORY OF NEGLECT/ABUSE AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IN THE HOME. THE ONLY PERSONS BELIEVING THAT CPS JUST SOMEHOW MAKES UP CHARGES, ARE THE ONES THAT ARE INVOLVED WITH THEM...I KNOW. I WORKED THERE FOR 10 YEARS. I DONT ALWAYS AGREE WITH DECISIONS MADE, BUT FOR THE MOST PART, THE CPS WORKERS DONT OPT FOR MORE WORK ON THEIR ALREADY OVERLOADED SCHEDULES.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Only a MORON would say that the acts of a man over the age of 18 that involve sexual intercourse with a female age 14 is not PEDOPHILIA."

I wouldn't be so quick to call others a "moron" when you're the one who's got your definitions wrong. "Pedophilia" by definition involves sex with pre-pubescent youth. The term would not accurately apply to girls of child bearing age. The legal issue involved with an over 18 year old and a 15 year old (she wasn't 14, as you would have it) would be statutory rape, not "pedophilia."

And to the goofball who can't figure out how to turn off the CAPS lock, there is a difference between investigating allegations of crime by an individual and using those allegations as an excuse to forcibly remove more than 400 kids from their homes. No one has alleged that all those kids have been subjected to sexual abuse.

This is like seizing every child of Catholic church parishioners because their priest molested one of the kids. That's the overkill part.

All specific allegations of abuse should be investigated, no doubt. But only offenders should be punished.

Anonymous said...

THE ALLEGED VICTIM WAS 14 WHEN SHE GOT PREGNANT, HENCE THE 9 MONTH GESTATION PERIOD, IDIOT. SO YOU ARE SAYING THAT A 14 YEAR OLD IS OF CHILD-BEARING AGE? JUST BECAUSE SHE HAS A MENSTRAL CYCLE AND IS FERTILE, DOES NOT MEAN SHE IS EMOTIONALLY OR WILLINGLY PARTICIPATING IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY. SHE CANNOT EVEN GIVE CONSENT AT THAT AGE. AND, MORON, WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT ONE 15 YEAR OLD GIRL. ARE YOU A NUT? EVEN THE THOUGHT THAT YOU ARE PARTIALLY CONDONING THIS MAKES ME SICK. I GUESS YOU WOULD FEEL COMFORTABLE ALLOWING YOUR DAUGHTER OR GRANDAUGHTER TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS GROUP. FREAK. AND BY THE WAY, ANYONE CAN LOOK UP A DEFINITION OF A WORD. GET A LIFE.

Anonymous said...

NO ONE HERE KNOWS WHAT THE ALLEGATIONS ARE, WHETHER IT BE PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL. I DONT THINK THAT HAS BEEN MADE PUBLIC. SO, YOU NEED TO STOP TRYING TO BE ALL-KNOWING HERE. AND YES, YOU GOOFBALL, WHEN CPS GETS INVOLVED, IT IS CALLED AND INVESTIGATION. I CANT FIGURE OUT WHY PEOPLE ARE SO QUICK TO JUDGE WHAT THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. AND, WHO HAS BEEN PUNISHED, YET?

Anonymous said...

Grits--are you joking? One child. This is years and years of grooming and abuse. It is a fact that this organization has participated in behaviors, which in our state, are illegal. I dont care what the name is--pedophilia, molestation, sexual abuse, or torture, it is wrong. If the state finds that children have not been abused, the children will return home. That is how it works. There are many children who have been removed then later it has been determined that the risk is not there. That is what an INVESTIGATION is for. Note the CAPS...:) Who exactly are you talking about that has been punished? I havent heard of charges yet.

Anonymous said...

also--CPS doesnt need a search warrant. Just a report. SO, your argument regarding the search warrant is invalid. Even if law enforcement didnt execute a search warrant, CPS was still justified. And, no-one is angry here. It is just less time consuming to type in CAPS.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No one's condoning child abuse, so calm down. I just corrected your erroneous definition of "pedophilia." (And PLEASE stop with the all caps nonsense.) Just because you're angry, engage in name calling and type in all caps doesn't mean it's justified to throw the constitution out the window. In fact, incidents that incite such popular anger are precisely where constitutional protections are most needed.

"Grooming" is another word for child rearing. Every family "grooms" their children to believe in their own religious values.

As for who has been punished? Every child removed from their home (I'll be they're scared half to death), every mother forced to choose between remaining home and staying with their kids, and every father whose child was taken without any specific allegation of abuse alleged against them. Clearly authorities used allegations about one child as an excuse to go after the entire compound. But our legal system holds individuals responsible for their actions, not their neighbors.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

CPS might not need a search warrant, but DPS is who did the raid. They undoubtedly do need a warrant.

rage said...

I LIKE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT EXPRESSES MY OUTRAGE BETTER AND MAKES YOU READ WHAT I HAVE TO SAY AND TAKE IT MORE SERIOUSLY.

Oh wait, no it doesn't. It just further bares your ass for claiming that people questioning the raid think having sex with babies is OK.

Anonymous said...

No. any child under the age of 18, by Texas law, has the emotional or physical maturity to consent to sexual behavior. That is why there are legal offenses such as statutory rape, aggravated sexual assault, etc.

Pedophilia is a clinical term describing very sick individuals who have sexual attraction to, as Grits so adeptly posted, pre-pubescent children.

Just think 100 years ago the age of consent was 10 years old in Texas.

Anonymous said...

supposed to be NO child has the ...

Anonymous said...

Grits, stop trying to pretend to know everything...again, we all can look up definitions. Thats not what this is about. Sorry--I was never "groomed" by anyone in my family. For those of us that have experience in dealing with child molesters as a profession, most of them that are remorseful and have accepted responsibility for their offenses against children, will tell you that "grooming" a child is standard. You will rarely find a man that has a family member or friend that they molested that they did not somehow "groom" in some way. Most victims of these offenses are family members and friends. There are few that are high risk sex offenders that snatch kids off the street and molest and murder. For the most part, its "all within the family."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Apparently we can't all look up definitions, 11:37, because the commenter above thought only a "moron" wouldn't accept their incorrect definition of pedophilia.

I was certainly "groomed" in the values and belief systems of the Southern Baptist church where I grew up, though it didn't take as well as with my brother, who's a Baptist preacher in Shreveport. If no one "groomed" you, it's probably because you didn't grow up in a fundie church, or were in a non-church going household (in which case you were undoubtedly "groomed" in some different value set).

I agree most child abuse happens in the family. That's not what the accusations are here. It's not Daddy doing the molesting, but a husband, with the question whether the bride is underage. So I just don't see how your comments apply.

Bottom line: Do you believe there's solid evidence most of the 400+ kids have been physically or sexually abused? No one has remotely alleged such a thing. So if not, how can you justify terminating parental rights?

Anonymous said...

Grits--there is not just one question here. It is daddy doing 14 year olds and allowing his friend/leader, or whoever, to rape his own daughter. It is the parents, as well as the leaders of the sect as a whole that have forced this on the children. This includes the mothers who allow the abuse. Again, this is behavior that has been passed down from one generation to the next. Yes it is all within the family, in one way or another. You or none of us know IF daddy himself is molesting. The entire reason CPS got involved is due to the underage gal and her "husband" but that does not exclude anything else that may be going on. From what I understand, and I am not saying that I am an expert by no means or that I take everything at face value, but several women who have appeared that are ex-members discuss the extreme amount of incest that is involved within the sect. So, there are many many questions to ask here. No, I dont believe that all 400+ children are victims of abuse at this point, but I do believe that they are at risk of abuse and thats is what CPS is looking at. Risk. I never mentioned terminating parental rights. That is an extreme process and never never happens overnight. In fact, that is something, that if warranted, wouldnt even be sought for many months to come. As far as the "grooming" thing, that is something that really bothers me. I guess I see where you are coming from because maybe we are all groomed in the sense of being taught family morals and values and those are all different, but it seems to me that, even besides what the law says, that if my family led me to believe that it was okay for an adult male to molest me as soon as I was of child bearing age, they were not looking out for my best interests. I still dont believe, even give the "correct" definition of the word "grooming" ,that it what our families today would call what they do to prepare us for life. Maybe in my world I have seen the word used in a much more negative way than you have. I work with child molesters and perpetrators of sexual abuse daily and "grooming" is a very common word around here...:) I dont intend to try to change anyone's beliefs but I would like to hope that at the end of this, we are looking out more for the children rather than religion or adult rights. Seems like sometimes we forget that it is the children that are important and don't get involved. What we dont know might hurt us? I am closing my thoughts with saying that I would give anything if after the investigation concludes, DPS and CPS were all wrong and no children had been hurt, tortured, or raped. I would love to say "I was wrong, I jumped to conclusions." Sadly, I just dont see that right now. Thanks for the other points of view on it. I am taking them to heart...

Anonymous said...

In regards to the notion that CPS should not have removed all of the children, that is not how they work. If they were to remove one girl because she talked about the abuse, but left others because they refused, they would be leaving those behind in greater threat of abuse. Further, let's say that CPS removed a 15 year old that was pregnant by a 50 year old man, whether it be her father or "spritual" husband, would it be plausible that her 14 year old sister be left in the home because she had yet to be "married off" to that 50 year old man like her sister? Should CPS wait to see she fell to the same fate or if the family had a change of heart and fled before all the babies were married off? That is not the way the system works and it is so unrealistic to believe that the only persons victimized here are those pregnant girls that speak up.

Anonymous said...

I tell you, I see "pedophiles" everyday. I dont care if they molested or sexually assaulted a 2 year old neighbor or his 15 year old daughter or son, he is a pedophile in my book. Sick guys (and girls). Not only old men either. This goes for the 19-30 year old predator who "groom" their wife's sister into believing she is actually the one for him and tells her how pretty she is until she gives in and has sex with him. He is a pedophile too, even if she is willing. Now who would actually argue that these are not pedophiles because they dont meet the standard definition. Give me a break.

lilgrannyboohoo said...

When you talk about the Bible do you talk about the old and the new testament.......If you want to do research do it there about how to raise children..

those poor children wrenched from their mothers arms.......
now some are in the hospital with sickness.

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