Thursday, April 17, 2008

Too many unanswered questions plague Eldorado polygamist cases

The short-term fate of more than 400 kids taken from the YFZ polygamist compound in West Texas will be decided today in a San Angelo courtroom, but to judge by this story from ABC News, no one is considering any specific abuse allegations or the best interests of any individual kid. Rather,
One idea under discussion is to appoint one lawyer to speak at the hearing on behalf of each age group: children under 5, teenage girls and teenage boys, for example. If the state does retain custody, the children will be placed with relatives or in foster homes. Otherwise, they will go back to the ranch, perhaps under the supervision of a state monitor.
ABC News says Texas CPS will likely argue that the entire YFZ Ranch is a single "household," which seems like a stretch given its division into atomic families with their own domiciles. Such a ruling, to me, would be embarrassingly wrongheaded, but that would be par for this course.

On Day 14 of this fiasco, several burning questions remain unanswered.

Was the raid based on a hoax phone call? If not, where is the complaining witness? She still hasn't been located, and I strongly suspect she may not exist. The language used in the phone call, according to former sect members, does not match religious jargon used by the group - e.g., she referred to "outisders" when FLDS uses the word "gentiles," and spoke of events on "Easter Sunday," which is a holiday FLDS does not celebrate.

If the call was legitimate, why didn't Texas Rangers arrest Dale Barlow, the Arizona man the caller accused of forcibly raping his child bride? I think the answer is that he could not have committed the offense, and they know it. But that hasn't stopped the Nancy Graces of the world from hyping his pre-judged guilt over the last two weeks as though the original call was legitimate and fully confirmed.

Will Texas now handle every other underage pregnancy this way? Will CPS and their jack-booted partners storm neighborhoods in Dallas and Houston and seize the children of everyone who looks underage? ABC News reports that the state "will probably offer evidence that unmarried minors (children under 18) at the ranch are pregnant or have had children. That's a prima face case of statutory rape, which is a crime." How many other underage girls get pregnant every year in Texas? Will all of these kids be seized prospectively, just in case the pregnancy came from statutory rape, or only in those instances where we dislike the parent's religion?

Though CPS has a lower burden of proof for initially seizing kids, I still believe the original search warrant for the ranch that started all this will never hold up on appeal in any criminal prosecution of individual FLDS members. Based on the phone call from "Sarah," the judge issued a warrant allowing the search of every building on the compound. To pass constitutional muster, a search warrant must "particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." There was nothing particular about this warrant, it was as general as it gets. Indeed, King George's redcoats use of the same tactic first inspired the Fourth Amendment.

Finally, the root of the argument that these girls are abused is that they've been "brainwashed" by their religion. But don't all religions "brainwash" their children? Isn't every religion absurd to a non-believer?

For example, if someone believes they talk to an imaginary friend who's a carpenter from 2,000 years ago, and says that friend forbids teaching young girls about contraception and disallows abortion, should every member of their church have their kids seized when a teenager becomes pregnant? Do we begin seizing Catholic children because some priests molested children? That, to me, is the equivalent of what's happened here. There's an intermingling of religious intolerance in the state's action that has turned (probably fabricated) allegations of abuse against an individual into a sweeping excuse to violate hundreds of people's rights.

Today is probably a formality - this judge clearly has already decided to go along with this fiasco, if only to avoid appearing foolish for having approved the raid in the first place based on so little real evidence. But if she were smart - or if she wanted to save the state of Texas a boatload of embarrassment down the line - the judge would take this opportunity to inject some rationality into the process, and let the kids go home where no specific allegation of physical or sexual abuse has been confirmed.

See related Grits coverage linked here.

UPDATE: The San Angelo newspaper has live updates all day from the proceedings. See also this Salt Lake City Tribune article on key legal players, and Brooke Adams' update from the proceedings.

ALSO
: Reacting to some of the discussion in the comment section, I thought I'd point Grits readers to this (perhaps?) related story from the Dallas News from November 5 of last year: Texas teens lead nation in birth rate. (My Grandma used to say that when you point a finger at someone else there's always three pointing back at you!)

MEANWHILE: Authorities in Arizona say the timing of the Texas raid was "wonderful" to force compliance by FLDS members in Utah and Arizona with a pending settlement busting up the trust that held their property in the community that used to be called Short Creek.

37 comments:

Doran Williams said...

I keep thinking of how great it would be for the judge in this case to have the wisdom of Solomon. In his wisdom he offered to slice a child in two, and give one-half to each of the contesting parties. Of course, the party who loved the child the most rejected the offer, and won the case.

I am skeptical that this judge has the wisdom to craft such a remedy. If she did, she would not, as you say, have granted the search and/or removal orders in the first place.

And of course, there is always the possibility that CPS or some of the parents would welcome some Solomic-like remedy that calls for splitting up families, and siblings.

If there is to be an end to this case within the next two years, the judge will require CPS to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence -- that each one of these kids, including male children -- face imminent danger of abuse if not removed. If CPS cannot do that as to each individual kid, then the kid goes home. This crazyness of having a lawyer speak for a group of children, without CPS actually proving a case as to each individual child, just will not work. The appellate courts will reverse, as the cases continue for years, stacked up in the appellate court's docket.

Someone at the regional level of CPS should eventually pay with his or her job for this spectacular debacle (defined in my dictionary, in part, as "a rush of debris-filled waters...a stunning, ruinous collapse or failure, often ludicrously calamitous").

Anonymous said...

What is missing from this story is reporting on the decisions that were taken at the highest levels in Austin, when they were taken and how they were coordinated. I'm wantng to see reporting on the planning that transpired BEFORE March 29th when the abuse call from "Sarah" was received by the New Bridge Family Shelter in San Angelo

Doran Williams said...

Good point, Anon. According to some of the reporting from Eldorado, the local sheriff there had been in contact for years with a confidential informant who was keeping the sheriff apprised of goings on at the FLDS ranch. So many questions are presented by the sheriff's admission of that contact. Yes, did Regional or State CPS have an ongoing investigation that wasn't going anywhere, because they did not have an outcry? No problem, someone calls in a bogus outcry and we're off to the races.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with the idea that there was a lot of pre-planning for this raid.

It is beyond belief that 25 vehicles full of Game Wardens in full regalia were mustered in a few hours to go South on Highway 277 Friday morning to Eldorado.

I understand there were hundreds of vehicles. That takes pre-planning for sure.

If the State to continues with this fiasco will be yet another embarassment. They've made their point, they should cut their losses and move on.

I do feel an injustice has been done to the young women who are cought up in this religion. The State just needs to find a better way to help them!

Doran Williams said...

Grits, how many affidavits were there/are there in support of search warrants, arrest warrants, and emergency removal of children? The only one I've been able to find is the April 6 Affidavit In Support of Original Petition For Protection Of A Child In An Emercency and For Conservatorship In Suit Affecting The Parent-Child Relationship, of Lynn McFadden.

Will appreciate it if you will post links to any other affidavits, as well as to the aforesaid Original Petition, if such links exist, of course.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Grits said:
"ABC News says Texas CPS will likely argue that the entire YFZ Ranch is a single "household," which seems like a stretch given its division into atomic families with their own domiciles. Such a ruling, to me, would be embarrassingly wrongheaded, but that would be par for this course."

The Texas Family Code defines "household" as thus: "Household" means a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other.

The question is whether or not the entire FLDS site was a dwelling, and how often and how long members of different biological families comingled and lived in certain dwellings. I'm guessing previous case law is going to help determine down how these situations are handled.

Grits said:
Will Texas now handle every other underage pregnancy this way? Will CPS and their jack-booted partners storm neighborhoods in Dallas and Houston and seize the children of everyone who looks underage? ABC News reports that the state "will probably offer evidence that unmarried minors (children under 18) at the ranch are pregnant or have had children. That's a prima face case of statutory rape, which is a crime." How many other underage girls get pregnant every year in Texas? Will all of these kids be seized prospectively, just in case the pregnancy came from statutory rape, or only in those instances where we dislike the parent's religion?

Now you're just being silly. First of all, in places like Dallas and Houston, if a girl is pregnant as a result of statutory rape, there are a few things that can happen. She can call the police and report it. Her parents or relatives can report it. The people who know the person who got her pregnant could report it. Her teachers at school could report it. Or nobody could report it. That's possible, too. But with the FLDS, what opportunity do the pregnant girls have for objective, outside intervention? That was why DPS and CPS acted on an outcry, legitimate or not. The fact that an outcry existed that they acted upon in good faith would be the same as if an outcry was made anywhere else in Texas. DPS didn't "seek" out these girls. They were led to them and acted further on plain sight evidence of possible previous crimes.

It's also known that the FDLS in general have a culture that has a history of exploitation of women and children. To ignore that reality is the same as knowing that an identified pedophile is living in a household with a child who has made an outcry, but not suspecting the pedophile because they say their love for children is only "spiritual," or "emotional," not physical. It's wrong to consider fundamentalist Mormonism as only a religion. It is a culture, as well, and religious culture exists not only in the mind and soul, but in practice. It would not take an incredible leap of logic to be wary of their understood, established practices being used against young girls.

Further, nobody has to be convicted and sentenced for kids to removed from abusive, cloistered environments. Abusive, neglectful parents in general society continue on with their lives all the time after their kids are taken away. The point of intervention isn't always to punish someone with a sentence. Often the best that can be done is to remove children from an abusive situation from which they'd have no other escape, since their parents won't do the right thing by them.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Doran, I'm aware of three warrants, for only one of which has the affidavit been placed online. The first (from which the Salt Lake City Tribune printed excerpts), got them onto the property to look for Barlow.

The second, based on observations there, is linked here.

The third, gotten by the feds because the first two were questionable, was described in the press as having mooted the first two, and its affidavit has not been made public that I've seen.

To the last commenter, if you think separate families living as husband-wives combinations in separate buildings don't constitute separate "households," IMO you're stretching the definition unreasonably, as is any judge who makes such a ruling.

And I'm not being silly by asking how this would apply in the city. When Texas changed the law to target FLDS, they couldn't do it specifically because that would be unconstitutional, so they raised the legal marriage age for EVERY Texas girl, not just FLDS women. When you pass laws that affect everybody in order to target a particular group, if you don't also enforce the law equally, you're still targeting them based on religion.

And I agree FLDS has a history (much of which looks very much like its present). I don't ignore it, I just don't ONLY listen to "Escape" author Ms. Jessop and the most vitriolic opponents. For example, I'd encourage you to read this "testimony" from a former FLDS woman who left several years ago, including the portion that says:

"half of the children raised within the FLDS, end up leaving on their own free will and choice. 95% of them you will never hear from again. 5% seem to spread rumor and false accusations everywhere they turn either because they are lonely and need someone or something to blame, or because they really were hurt or abused and somehow think it's the church's fault."

If it's accurate that half of FLDS kids leave of their own free will, then it's just not true that the scenario is functionally different from a Houston neighborhood. From what I've seen, the same few ex-FLDS critics quoted over and over about "patterns" of abuse, but little evidence of widespread abuse or neglect in the way usually meant at CPS. best,

Cicero said...

I think that a case can be made for brainwashing- but it requires actual evidence. Simply saying- "look at the religious teachings- that's brainwashing" is not evidence.

However, suppose they can identify a 16 year old with healed broken ribs and maybe a hospital nurse or doctor who can identify her, and yet she denies being Sarah.

Now that sounds like the beginning of a actual case.

I just keep getting the feeling that real investigative work is not being done because they think they won't need it. That the outrage generated by the accusations will be sufficient.

For example, how did Sarah get the number to this local shelter? I can think of 3 scenarios:

A) They have Phone Books, and/or other outside information available to the women of the FLDS ranch. In this case it weakens the argument that they are all isolated and brainwashed.

B) The call is fake

C) The girl was given the number by a staff member at the hospital when treated for her broken ribs. That seems the most likely to me, and it suggests that the Hospital staff would probably remember her because they obviously had suspicions.

So why doesn't Texas take a photo array of all the 16 year old girls to the local hospitals and see if the Hospital Staff can pick a girl out? I know it's a longshot, but it would sooth alot of my concerns if Texas was doing more investigation and depending less on outrage about the FLDS faith.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Cicero, I think when you combine the quandary you describe with the other bits of data - especially the non-FLDS lingo of the caller, and her misidentifying the husband (they may not know what "crayons" are, according to CPS, but at least you'd think she'd know the name of the husband who allegedly beat and hospitalized her!) - I think the "most likely" scenario is the call was faked.

Clearly from her supposed description, hospital records should exist and would have already confirmed the incident and her identity to authorities if the call is real. The game prosecutors are playing by avoiding the investigatory path you describe, IMO, is happening precisely because they're hoping the judge won't require them to prove the specific, original allegations are real, and simply let them allege "patterns" based on observations during the house to house search for Barlow that justify seizing the kids. In that vein, I hope the judge makes them justify every kid taken for a specific reason, or it all starts to look pretty squirrelly to me.

kbp said...

To Doran & Anon,
I've been saying since day one that CPS is who the higher ups put in charge to take the fall.

Links for documents you asked for;
4/6 AFFIDAVIT

SW AFFIDAVIT

CELLPHONE REMOVAL ORDER

MOTHER’s LETTER TO GOV.

Note: The "SW Affidavit" contains what I believe are the 2 originals.

Anonymous said...

Grits said:
And I'm not being silly by asking how this would apply in the city. When Texas changed the law to target FLDS, they couldn't do it specifically because that would be unconstitutional, so they raised the legal marriage age for EVERY Texas girl, not just FLDS women. When you pass laws that affect everybody in order to target a particular group, if you don't also enforce the law equally, you're still targeting them based on religion.

This is partly true, but if the law was passed in a way that was constitutionally sound, then it was constitutionally sound. That's the system.

It also depends on whether or not general societal sentiment and practice at the time the law was passed was in agreement with the new law. If society has reached the point where they agree that the change in the law conforms better with current acceptable practices, then so be it. As people become more accepting of women's rights and children's rights (as separate from their parents'), maybe raising the legal age of marriage with parental consent is only a matter of course or progress in society. The new law regarding minor marriages isn't a governmental imposition of one religious standard upon another, less popular standard. I don't see anything wrong with a new law representing general society's belief that 14 years old is too young to consent to any kind of marriage, whatever their religion. No exception was given to Baptists, Catholics, or Muslims, and all kids and faiths are affected equally.

The age of 14 probably had coincided with laws regarding sexual assualt and aggravated sexual assault, as well as with DA's room for discretion in choosing to prosecute cases of sex between kids ages 14 to 17. But DA's have discretion in those cases, and if it looks like coercion or force was used, then the DA would most likely prosecute. How can the marriage of a 14 year-old to a much older male not be an instance of coercion or absolute control? And yet this is what previous law allowed for. And does society in general agree that kids who are 14 years old should have the right to enter a binding legal contract that they're most likely not prepared to handle?

When regressive fringe groups choose to hold onto values and practices that went the way of the dodo long ago, it should come as no surprise when they're left in the dust as society chooses to move forward.

kbp said...

Thanks Grits!

Grouping children together, overlooking individual rights? Maybe by household, but we're back to a problem of mothers staying with their children <5 YO while possibly having others >5 YO.

"Was the raid based on a hoax?"
...or is there always an army of 700+ standing by ready to raid villages in search of alleged victims that call CPS shelter Hotlines?

Regarding that first warrant holding up, I'm hoping legal minds will step in here to tell how the 'fruits of the poison tree'(?) will or could apply.

As all consider your question of "Will all of these kids be seized prospectively, just in case the pregnancy came from statutory rape, or only in those instances where we dislike the parent's religion?", one should also consider what that would cost and the state of the economy. We all know the bureaucracy ALWAYS needs more money to solve the problems!

"There's an intermingling of religious intolerance in the state's action that has turned (probably fabricated) allegations of abuse against an individual into a sweeping excuse to violate hundreds of people's rights."
We need to remember that Sheriff Doran (spelling?) has bragged to the national press that he has been planning and preparing for this raid the last 4 years!

As for the judge, it's clear to me I have little knowledge of how they handle things at this level in the Texas Judicial system. She must be a 24/7 operation that handles everything... or she can't find any one that wants to be involved (better odds?).

While adding more questions here's one a bit OT, if the story is that the raid was for a single case of possible sexual abuse of a child, WTH were there so many CPS employees doing at the party?


I won't give any a pass on crimes committed at the YFZ just because they are being investigated in a selective manner different from all other cases (looks like a 1983 problem), but we should be able to admit that so far it looks like they're burning an entire village based on 7-8 conversations which is lacking in conclusive evidence. How can they prevent losing their children? The parents MUST prove they are innocent (or possibly join the local Baptist church)!

While my notes below on affidavits indicate interviews may have revealed crimes, I question if any or all can be proved to have
taken place in Texas. Are there records that indicate residence when conception may have come about? Records needed evidently are not readily available if they even exist. Just more questions to throw in the mess.

____________________
My Review of SW AFFIDAVIT
____________________

Affidavit to Search and Arrest Warrant
# M O8 OO1 S.

Sexual assault of a child, Texas Penal Code Section 22.011
This was sworn to by an officer of the law 4/3/08.
Page 1
2. [property] ...in charge of and controlled by...Dale Barlow, DOB 11/06/57...
(officer knows this from???)

Page 2
...caller identified her husband's first name as Dale and advised that he is 49 years-old, the...
(last line on page)

Page 3
...caller advised that Dale Barlow is physically as well as sexually abusive towards her...
(top)(jumps from first name to include last also?)
(correct self - "forget I called" in first call made)

Sheriff looks up records, knows of conviction and probation, but nobody calls probation officer or AZ officials to check on Barlow?
(3rd paragraph)
(also searching for medical records? Invasive of privacy rights?)

This first warrant of 04/03/08, was to search for the mysteriously missing caller Sarah, and arrest the fella who evidently had never been to the YFZ Ranch. I wonder how they knew so much on him but not that he was never there?


ANOTHER ON 4/6/08
# M O8 OO2 S.
Sexual assault of a child, Texas Penal Code Section 22.011
Bigamy, Texas Penal Code Section 25.01

Starts page 5
(difficulty on recall for exact dates of events of 4/4-6 often?),
Tina Martinez of CPS said she interviewed;
1. A 15 YO, who knows a 16 YO that is married, w/child & pregnant;

2. Young lady that looked 16, said 18 after husband reminded her(?), freely gave DOB 02/24/90, has 10 month old baby by 33 YO husband (16 +10 months at conception);

3. Young lady w/DOB 12/09/89, w/child DOB 08/01/06, father (husband?) is 36 YO (+/- weeks of 17 at conception);

4. Young lady w/DOB 09/16/88, w/child DOB 08/19/05 & 08/12/04, father/husband?; (+/- weeks of 16 at conception)
(at YFZ in 04 or 5 when conceived?)

Ruby Gutierrez of CPS said she interviewed;
5. "Child" told of knowing 16 YO married to 40 YO;

Rebecca Baxter of CPS said she interviewed;
6. 16 YO (no DOB) told of being due in June and ?married to husband w.first that is 40 YO;

7. Young lady that looked 16, doesn't know her DOB, has 2 YO & pregnant;

8. 8 YO who said **** has 4 kids and is only 16 YO, and then tells of a redacted stretch of husband/multiple wives descriptions that ID's Richard Jessup Barlow in it (difficult to determine meaning except Bigamy)
(My 7 & 8 are ID'd as only 7 in affidavit??)

Sheriff Doran's "confidential informant" (former member od FLDS) provided accurate information over the past 4 years (nothing done then?), and then on 04/05/08 told of males >17 YO having multiple wives, and wives often <16 YO, and sexual activities occur in the "temple" in which "there is A bed".
("A bed" v. many beds discovered.)

Affiant (Leslie Brooks Long) tells "observed a document indicating marriages between one man and over twenty wives, all of whom resided in the same residence at the Suspected Place and Premises [YFZ], as of August 9, 2007, with no record of divorce or death of a spouse found."
(odd there is no mention of a name for this husband of documented record)

This second warrant, sworn to 4/6 @ 10:12 PM, was to search ALL of the premises for records related to sexual assault of a child and bigamy. (back to 700+ storm troopers, kids taken before affidavit, all planned)

The Local Crank said...

"The age of 14 probably had coincided with laws regarding sexual assualt and aggravated sexual assault, as well as with DA's room for discretion in choosing to prosecute cases of sex between kids ages 14 to 17."

That would be a good reason to raise the age of marriage. Unfortunately, the legislators who wrote the damn thing have been shooting their mouths off to the media that their primary motivation was the FLDS "cult" that had moved into their district. That, unfortunately, could invalidate any prosecutions against men who may indeed richly deserve it due to the Constitution's ban on "Bills of Attainder." In the immortal words of the late, great Molly Ivins, Texas is the national laboratory for bad (or in this case, incompetent) government.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I don't think the issue is whether or not the law is unconstitutional, it's whether or not enforcement is targeting specific religious groups. If, as I have read elsewhere, 1 in 40 Texas teens are pregnant by the age of 16, then why aren't 1 in 40 Texas teens in protective custody and their rapists in jail, unless the issue here really isn't pregnant teens being the victims of sexual crimes, but the religions beliefs of an admittedly fringe group?

Anonymous said...

Headmistress said:
I don't think the issue is whether or not the law is unconstitutional, it's whether or not enforcement is targeting specific religious groups. If, as I have read elsewhere, 1 in 40 Texas teens are pregnant by the age of 16, then why aren't 1 in 40 Texas teens in protective custody and their rapists in jail, unless the issue here really isn't pregnant teens being the victims of sexual crimes, but the religions beliefs of an admittedly fringe group?

AGAIN, if there was an outcry of abuse involving each of those pregnant teens, then maybe there would be some kind of state intervention. Angry parents call DA's all the time, asking them to prosecute their little girl's "rapist" who happens to be a 17 year-old boyfriend. But as long as we don't know what kinds of requests for help or protection are being made by young women in somewhat comparable situations, all you can do it speculate about unequal government interference.

And AGAIN, if a situation surrounding a child is fundamentally prone to allowing that child to be sexually exploited, that child may need assistance. In sexual abuse cases outside the FLDS, if one child is sexually abused by a family member or someone in the household, often times, the other children are also investigated and/or put under protection because they are at-risk. This practice is nothing new or unusual.

You are saying that it's only right to respond to an abusive situation if the state imposes itself upon every other POSSIBLY abusive situation out there, outcry or no outrcry, which is both wrong and impractical.

kbp said...

For the legal minds interested in reading Baker's Legal Pages, you'll find the abundance of amendments related to those changes concerning marriage relationships. Could be just the tip of a problem$ here.

W. W Woodward said...

Brain washing/Religious indoctrination/Public Schooling. All these have at least these few things in common: 1) A person in authority 2) constant repetition of so-called “basic truths” 3) intolerance of other views or of questioning the “basic truths” 4) threat of or actual punishment for not complying with instructions/programming 5) Instillation of a fear or distrust of “outsiders”.

If y’all will be honest you will have to agree almost every activity, profession, religion, is operated within these same lines. Lawyers are brainwashed into believing that all layman are ignorant barbarians who cannot read and understand the written word. Police officers are trained to believe, and do believe, that the world is divided into two groups, those who should be jailed for something and the “thin blue line”. Correctional officers are programmed to believe that all inmates are something less than human and that an inmate’s life and/or property has no worth whether the inmate is a convicted felon or is just laying out a traffic fine. (An aside – rabbit trail – This attitude toward inmates just could be at the root of the TYC problems.)

Religions/countries/businesses that keep their adherents/populations/workers poor, ignorant, dependent upon their self declared authority, and “barefoot and pregnant” (if you will) tend to maintain considerable control over the people in their “flocks”.

I ran for county sheriff back in 1980. My 90+ year old grandmother registered and voted for the first time in her life so she could vote for her grandson. When I asked why she had never voted she replied that my grandfather told her women had no business deciding anything that had to do with politics and had forbidden her to vote or discuss political issues. It was a religion thing. Another female with whom I am well acquainted was being considered at one time to head one of the national political parties but was shunted to the side mainly because a nationally known religious figure objected to a woman being placed into a position where she would have authority over men.

Granted, the FLDS seems to be somewhat outside the mainstream as far as current popular christian [ hmmmm, I just noticed, MS Word doesn’t like to see christian spelled with a lower case “C” ] religions are concerned. However, They seem to be right on line with the rest of ‘em when it comes to brainwashing/religious indoctrination/programming. Does that make them wrong and the rest of us right? Or, maybe the other way around?

kbp said...

Is Flora Jessup the insider for Sheriff Doran?

The affidavit tells of the Sheriff having an insider working with him for four years. It tells of about twenty accurate tips... Never are they really deep insider tips, or the 700 man march would have came about sooner, in my opinion. This insider had to be asked about the Temple and beds in it. The response was "A bed", meaning singular. Maybe this insider was not INSIDE!


Over at Prairie Fire Journal it's mentioned that ol' Flora and Sheriff Doran may have been the source of that distressful call for help that started this mess.

All speculation, but it's about as sound as what they're using in an effort to take custody of 416 children.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 1:17 who wrote, "You are saying that it's only right to respond to an abusive situation if the state imposes itself upon every other POSSIBLY abusive situation out there"

Uh ... How about ANY others? I believe I read Harvey Hildebran (the bill author) say these will be the first prosecutions under the new law since he passed it.

What I'm saying is they re-defined the state's historic definition of "abuse" in order to target the marriage practices of a particular religious sect, then only used it to prosecute them, not any of thousands of other violators statewide. Am I wrong on that?

Anonymous said...

Grits said:
What I'm saying is they re-defined the state's historic definition of "abuse" in order to target the marriage practices of a particular religious sect, then only used it to prosecute them, not any of thousands of other violators statewide. Am I wrong on that?

Who are the thousands of violators statewide who have been systematically married and/or impregnated as children after experiencing lifelong coercion in an insular, paranoid group home? Who are these comparable people you keep invoking as examples?

What if the impregnated girls were never married to anyone, and the men paid or bartered for the sex as part of religious practices? Yes, that would be prostitution and enslavement. Would it be protected if it were within an established cult? Would you say free, but coerced sex is okay in priciple, but paid-for and coerced sex is not okay, in principle?

The government cannot prosecute beliefs, just like they cannot investigate your hypothical abuse victims who don't make outcries. The government can prosecute actions. If the FLDS preached or believed that child marriage and sex were okay, but never acted upon those preachings, there probably would not even be a case.

kbp said...

FYI

The reporting is that Judge Walther keeps telling the Attorneys ad litem that "we" have solutions, as in SPECIAL PROCEDURES they know nothing of.

There's a very interesting blog over at the LDS Messenger.

AND

For play-by-play updates.

ps: Grits, if I'm ever overloading or drifting OT for you, feel free to let me know. :)

Cicero said...

Boy Grits that would be potent argument.

Meanwhile it appears they are going after the FLDS on polygamy charges after all:

http://www.abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/
Story?id=4670370&page=2

In Texas, state Attorney General Greg Abbott wasn’t so concerned about finding the caller named Sarah.

“It’s irrelevant if the 16-year-old can and will be found,” Abbott told “Good Morning America” today.

He said Child Protective Services “believe they have significant evidence” that abuse occurred and that the children would be in danger if they were returned to the ranch.

Abbott hinted that additional charges could be brought against sect members because women who gave television interviews in recent days “basically admitted to living in a state of bigamy… That also would be a ground for legal prosecution here in the state of Texas.”


The criminal prosecutions are going to be based on polygamy and not abuse.

I might agree with this tactic as a clever attempt to fork the FLDS, and force them to delay polygamous marriages to age 18:

Either the men say they are married to the 16 year olds, thus opening them to a charge of bigamy.

Or the men deny a legal marriage and are charged with statutory rape.

Clever, but dangerous, particularly since they used abuse as the excuse to enter the compound. If the FLDS men are smart they will own up to marrying these girls and challenge the state of Texas to bring bigamy charges. Then there will be an actual showdown over the legitimacy of the laws against bigamy. (Besides, better to go to jail for bigamy than for rape).

Now I expect that the bigamy laws will be upheld, but there will be alot of grief about the manner in which the evidence was gathered.

That is what disturbs me the most about the above quote:

Abbott hinted that additional charges could be brought against sect members because women who gave television interviews in recent days “basically admitted to living in a state of bigamy… That also would be a ground for legal prosecution here in the state of Texas.”

This is exactly why the FLDS men and women are so reluctant to talk to the press, and this strikes me as an attempt to intimidate the men and women of the FLDS into silence.

Even shades of threatening them with not being able to show up in court and challenge the states case because to do so would incriminate themselves under the bigamy statute. This seems a very highhanded way to essentially steal children away from families with a religion people don’t like.

kbp said...

Cicero Said,

"Now I expect that the bigamy laws will be upheld, but there will be alot of grief about the manner in which the evidence was gathered."

Hmmm! Behind closed doors?

Would it be okay if 3+ men lived together as intimate partners?

Maybe FLDS wants to face bigamy charges.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 2:43 who asked, "Who are the thousands of violators statewide who have been systematically married and/or impregnated as children after experiencing lifelong coercion in an insular, paranoid group home?"

If that's what the law forbade, I might agree with you. Instead, it raised the age of marriage with consent of a parent from 14 to 16, for everybody. Lots of young teens get pregnant. What this law did was either require them to become unwed mothers, or in this case engage in "outlaw" marriages.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Also, they're claiming the statutory rape law means any pregnant person under 18 is prima facie evidence of statutory rape. I wouldn't read the statute that way, seeing several possible exceptions, but I'm not a lawyer and that's how the case has been framed in the media.

Anonymous said...

Grits said:
If that's what the law forbade, I might agree with you. Instead, it raised the age of marriage with consent of a parent from 14 to 16, for everybody. Lots of young teens get pregnant. What this law did was either require them to become unwed mothers, or in this case engage in "outlaw" marriages.

Lots of teens older than 16 but younger than 18 get pregnant too, and they may also not marry for any number of reasons. Access to marriage rights does not guarantee people will use them. Most of the young women outside the FLDS would also have access to abortions and/or adoptions, and they would have the choice of getting married if they wanted to, or not getting married if they didn't want to. The point is that they are in a society that recognizes they can make these choices if they want to.

The kids outside the FLDS younger than 16 and pregnant aren't going to be better off married, except maybe in terms of insurance coverage from a possible spouse. But if they are under 16 and unmarried, they could file under their parents' coverage or receive state aid. And if a pregnant girl under 16 indeed has a young man in her life who intends to marry her, he will marry her when he can, even if he has to wait a couple of years. If he absolutely does not intend to marry her, or couldn't manage to wait around for those 2 years, it won't make a difference how old the girl is. They shouldn't be married, period, because the man will make his family miserable because he'll feel trapped and angry.

You keep implying that teenage girl + baby should = beneficial marriage for all involved. But when it comes to raising children, relatives and friends can help raise a baby successfully, as can adoptive parents, but every married couple is responsible for their own success. You believe that 14 year-olds can manage a baby and a legally binding marriage, and that if someone of any age over 14 wants to marry and impregnate a 14 year-old, they should be able to legally do so? Because to me, THAT is more reprehensible than a girl with a baby having to wait two years to marry a man, if she genuinely wants to do so. Remember, a marriage certificate is not only ceremonial. It's a state sanctioned document. You're saying that Texas should be in the practice of sanctioning marriages between 14 year-olds and men or women of any age, as long as the parents of the minor consent. However, there is no license that facilitates having sex and having a baby. The pregancy/marriage aspect is complicated by the fact that one is purely biological, and the other is partially administrative.

txwordpounder said...

I'm convinced that ex-FLDS member Flora Jessop is behind the phone call and is the confidential informant. You can read more about this on my blog.

I also have a link to the original affidavit for arrest and search warrant posted there as well..

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 4:35 who wrote, "You're saying that Texas should be in the practice of sanctioning marriages between 14 year-olds and men or women of any age, as long as the parents of the minor consent."

I'm not saying what the law SHOULD be, just what it WAS before it was changed to target FLDS. They moved here to practice their faith in 2004 under the same laws of the land that existed from the time my parents and grandparents were married in Texas. The following year in response, the legislator from their district changed those laws with the specific, stated motive of driving them out of the area.

I'm describing the history of what happened, not saying it "should" be that way. Nothing should be this way. This whole thing is a clusterf%*k.

If you want to get to "should be's," if polygamy were legal then these people wouldn't be driven out into the boondocks living in isolated, inbred clans. Make it legal, pass laws that protect wives and children living under those circumstances, just as we do in traditional marriages, and it'd be a lot safer for everybody involved. The Mormon diaspora across the American west includes many thousands of polygamists forced to live underground to practice their religious beliefs in isolated rural areas. Others must try to "pass" to earn a living in the mainstream world, inherently living a lie. I think the religion itself makes no sense, and don't believe a single jot nor tittle. But if I lived where they were in the majority, I'd want them to respect those who talked to their imaginary friend, the carpenter, or any other faith that sounds crazy to those not practicing it.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriageable_age#Americas

I see no reason why Texas should have lagged behind the rest of the United States in protecting children from either their own dumb mistakes or from controlling adults who corral them into marriage. Our laws had to catch up some time.

I believe in offering refuge so victims can escape political, religious, and sexual persecution. I don't believe in providing refuge for the purpose of facilitating sexual abuse. The FLDS were not originally established here and intentionally sought out our outdated laws. Outdated child protection laws should be seen for what they are, just like archaic, regressive criminal justice laws.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Since there were no girls married or pregnant under 16 at the ranch and the complaining phone call was fake, I guess it's moot. Right?

Anonymous said...

I think right now is too early to tell. It would require genetic testing of every member of the sect to determine who's related to whom, and who conceived who. It is not reliable to simply take the word of the sect members. They will lie if they believe it's necessary to preserve their version of reality. It's human nature and regularly occurs in abusive situations.

The press is probably as jumbled and chaotic as the Tom Green County Courthouse, and we'll need time to learn what the facts are. In these situations, accuracy often takes a backseat to press deadlines.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"In these situations, accuracy often takes a backseat to press deadlines."

That has certainly been the case with all specific allegations of abuse so far. The allegations traveled around the world at lightning speed. The truth has trickled out, including this latest new today, and IMO virtually every new fact casts the state's case in a worse light.

I see no justification for DNA testing, etc.. It's a bogus case. There are no underage marriages going on. Why go through the motions at this point?

Anonymous said...

Grits said:
There are no underage marriages going on. Why go through the motions at this point?

Of course they won't find child brides with documentation under the age of 16. How would they be assigned a marriage license without forging other documentation to obtain the license? You don't know whether or not young girls have been "promised" to men or have had sex with them as part of symbolic "marriages." None of us do. Those possibilities are relevant and are not excluded just because there aren't illegally obtained marriage licenses granted to girls under 16.

Common law marriages are recognized in our state. Are you implying the only evidence of an abusive "marriage-like" situation would have to include state or county-issued documentation? If common-law marriages can be honored among adults, I think a relationship and practices resembling common-law marriage between children and adults should be able to be investigated by the state. Maybe there is no real legal precedent for this analogous reasoning. I don't know.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You're missing the point. The investigation was botched. The evidence mishandled and IMO improperly obtained. No prosecutions will come from it. Seizing anyone's kids based on a religious philosophy IMO won't hold up, and risks making conservative Texas the state whose official legal bungling resulted in the legalization of polygamy as well as sodomy (via Lawrence) when SCOTUS finally overturns this debacle. Why go through that?

The only reason to continue is to save face for officials who launched the raid, but it'll do a lot more to save face to quit now than wait till it all blows up on the back end after spending millions of dollars on a bogus prosecution of a bogus law.

Bad things may have happened at the YFZ ranch, but you don't round up every child and THEN hunt for a reason to justify it.

Anonymous said...

Grits said:
No prosecutions will come from it. Seizing anyone's kids based on a religious philosophy IMO won't hold up. . .

I believe you're missing an additional but important point that this is not about philosophy or religion in a vacuum. Once philosophy or religion is put into practice, it is no longer simple belief. The FLDS can discuss and believe in polygamy or aged-gapped spiritual marriages all they want, but once those beliefs are put into practice, they are not absolutely protected. Some cultures or fundamentalist religions believe in female genital mutilation, and our country and states had to pass laws to address the needs of women and children who were being physically mutilated at the hands of the devout. Was it persecutorial and unconstitutional for legislators to place females' and children's rights above the rights of others to force physical religious compliance from the helpless?

Many rights in our society intersect and overlap at varying points, but the individual right to personal integrity, autonomy, and self-determination cannot be stripped or denied from children just because adults around them follow particular traditions or religious practices. The right to religious belief falls within the scope of individual choice and self-determination. I don't see why that individual right should eclipse other individual rights such as personal bodily integrity, safety, ability to associate with whom one chooses, religious faith, etc. . .

We don't know if no prosecutions will come of this, and even if none do, those results would be similar to many child abuse cases in which kids are taken from unfit parents, and the parents are not prosecuted. You don't seem to be separating criminal law and child protection law, but they are not one and the same. For instance, just because someone has a felony record doesn't mean they can never raise kids, or that the state can take their kids away. Likewise, child abuse doesn't always coincide with criminal prosecution, but that doesn't mean the abuse did not occur.

As for understanding how well this investigation has proceeded, I will wait until more dust has settled. These are child abuse cases. State agencies cannot discuss details of these cases, as required by confidentiality laws. There's always more to these kinds of stories than meets the eye.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

First, I find it fascinating that folks who're jumping on the bandwagon so wholeheartedly when the allegations are salacious and overblown, now take a "wait and see" attitude when evidence comes up refuting them. That's how wrongful convictions occur. These folks have to not only prove their innocence, but overcome presumptions of religious bigotry, to boot.

As for your comment, "You don't seem to be separating criminal law and child protection law, but they are not one and the same." What basis do they have for seizing kids, much less all 400+? The pregnant girls are all of marriageable age, and allegations or forcible rape were a hoax. There are no complaining witnesses. The kids are well cared for.

If the charge is they're taught to think raising kids is a woman's highest calling, you can incarcerate half the Mormon church, and a lot of Catholics and fundamentalist Evangelicals, too. Maximally valuing "life" is why the Catholic Church opposes birth control for 14 year olds, e.g., because they'd prefer she had the kid. Historically, though, they'd prefer she had the child in wedlock.

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