Friday, May 16, 2008

Authorities ignored leads, evidence that should have shown Eldorado accusations were a hoax

There's so much we still don't know about what went on in the days leading up to the massive raid by authorities on the YFZ Ranch, but a habeas corpus petition filed in San Antonio on behalf of monogamous FLDS moms who are all above age provides this new tidbit: Authorities knew before hand not only that Dale Barlow wasn't on the ranch (they'd spoken to him by phone and confirmed he was in Arizona), but they knew the supposed caller wasn't from Texas. According to the petition (if you want to read the whole thing, download the ginormous 75-page pdf file; thanks KBP for getting it online):
It is clear from the recently unsealed Colorado Springs arrest warrant affidavit for Rozita Swinton that Texas authorities were well aware of the fact that the two telephones utilized to make numerous calls to the New Bridge Family Shelter "Crisis Hotline" in San Angelo were registered to telephone numbers outside the State of Texas. This information, together with the determination that the alleged perpetrator, Dale Barlow, was not present on the premises prior to initiation of the search, warranted further investigation.

Both of these telephones had Colorado Springs, Colorado area codes (area code 719). Upon calling the Colorado Springs Police Department (Sergeant Mandel) Texas authorities were immediately advised that one of these telephone numbers was associated with an individual who had made numerous "false reports of sexual abuse to police agencies" in the Colorado Springs area. All-in-all the investigation reveals that Rozita Swinton has been linked to false allegations of sexual abuse to over ten different child protection and law enforcement agencies, dating back to 2005, in cities across the country from Monroe, Washington to Ft. Meyers, Florida.
Lots more detail, but I wanted to get that tidbit out there.

So for those who continue to believe this warrant was executed in good faith, here are the facts.
  • Authorities knew before the raid that Dale Barlow was in Arizona, had spoken to him, but made no effort to have him arrested or detained by his probation officer.
  • The caller mispronounced the name of the town (there's a long "a" in Eldor-A-do), used terminology that did not match FLDS religious lingo, and only gave details about the group and the ranch that could be easily gleaned online.
  • Authorities knew the calls to the shelter didn't come from Texas, and with minimalist investigation would have identified the caller as a routine hoaxer.
But they still entered the ranch like gangbusters, then spent the next month dissembling in the media about what they'd found. When Rangers finally did get around to questioning Dale Barlow, they left without arresting him and later dropped the warrant.

Recently in the comments I facetiously compared the Texas Rangers' search for Sarah's molester to OJ Simpson's vow to search for his wife's "real killer." But there's a big difference: Nicole Simpson was actually a crime victim. Sarah was the figment of a troubled imagination. I'm increasingly convinced that law enforcement either knew or should have known that before they went onto the YFZ Ranch.

UPDATE: Thanks to the commenter who pointed to the Colorado search warrant affidavit (pdf) regarding Rozita Swinton, posted online at Kidjacked. From this document we learn much more about the Rangers' belated and uninspired investigation into the source of the hoax that launched the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup.

34 comments:

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

That would explain why the Texas Rangers, seemingly baffled by this case, are still saying that they are 'investigating' whether or not the Swinton phone calls were a hoax, and it would explain, Why Texas authorities requested of Colorado that the records in the Swinton investigation be sealed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Texas Rangers need to be investigated? Some of the things they have done in recent years leads one to believe they are not always acting on good faith but on the word of someone else who is in command and from a higher level.

Why don't they just admit they goofed and let the women and children go back to their lives. It is not the Texas Rangers decision to be Judge and jury and for this to have happened twice in Texas is just wrong.

I am ashamed to be a Texas more and more every day.

eLLe said...

BREAKING NEWS - Minister from Prestonwood Baptist arrested in sex sting

Dallas Morning News

http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/05/breaking-news-minsiter-from-pr.html



Where is CPS? Oh...aren't the baptist the ones housing the FLDS children? Yes they are.

CPS will need to bust in on every family in this baptist church and take their children.

And, oh, CPS will need to remove every FLDS child in foster care under a baptist home (many!)

If not, why not?

doran williams said...

Where is our favorite lawn order commentator today? Apparently, one or more law enforcement officers lied to the judge. That is a no-no, maybe a felonious no-no. I want to see txbluesperson work out on this one. Prepare youselves for a show, if he shows.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Doran, it's easy lawyerin' to just ad 10 ifs to all the fact propositions and pretend it's all okay. We don't know enough yet to PROVE they knew and lied. But I feel more than confident in saying they should have known, and that it violates their duty to investigate anonymous complaints before acting to have jumped the gun without following up.

Anonymous said...

I can understand jumping the gun in cases where a person (child or otherwise) is in grave danger. What I can't understand is letting 5 days elapse before the gun is jumped.

The timeline suggests that there was ample opportunity to conduct enough of an investigation to dismiss the allegations without further evidence. It is even possible that such investigation did occur, and they were well aware of the facts but steamed forward anyway because who knew when such an opportunity to get these folks outta town might arise again?

Don said...

This thing is making me sick. I'm afraid that, like Tulia, nothing will happen even if it does turn out that they have to send most of the kids home. Somebody should be in jail over this. What has happened to our moral compass that tells us this sort of thing is ok because they "meant well", "acted in good faith", trying to "protect the children", etc. etc. And, by the way, what exactly WAS the motivation? Is it all religious bigotry, the folks around Eldorado putting pressure on the elected authorities to do something, just a power deal on the part of CPS, DPS, et al, or WTF? I'm confused, and troubled, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Thank God for this blog and some folks who haven't succumbed to Big Brother!

kbp said...

That PDF is stored at this Free Storage Site


I set it up as Public to share the PDF with all that go there.

kbp said...

PS - You have to download it to view it.

kbp said...

Before I leave for the weekend, another PS;

Thanks Grits for sharing!

Wish I could read it all, or even print it for the weekend, but 75 pages!!

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Minor point of interest: It says Doran's informant is a male. I was sure it was Flora.
Dan Fischer?
Who knows. Just interesting.

Christoph said...

"either knew or should have known"

I lean heavily toward "knew". The FLDS' civil rights were violated. The FBI should investigate on that basis.

I still despise the racist wacky religion of the FLDS. Yet they have a right to keep same.

Christoph said...

I agree with this. It won't happen, of course.

John said...

I'm still worried about Rozita Swinton.

Where is she? There are reporters who tried to find her to talk to her but couldn't find her.

I repeat. Is she being held prisoner someplace (in Texas, maybe) incommunicado?

Is she safe?

Suppose the Texas Law put her up to the fraudulent calls? Will she continue to be safe?

Can somebody do a habeas corpus for her?

lowery.shirley said...

Don, it is all about politics and votes. When there is alleged sexual abuse people are considered guilty until/unless they can prove otherwise. Introduce the sexual aspect and the public goes nuts. I don't know anyone that supports the actions of sex offenders but some of us withhold judgment until we see proof of wrong doing. I fear that we are such a small group that we will be bulldozed under. Anything hawked as being for the sake of the children is eagerly embraced as proven by the raid. This is not my America.

Anonymous said...

Here's some PDF's related to this:

http://kidjacked.com/up/

(at the bottom of the page)
Rozita Swintons arrest warrant
-----------------------

http://sites.google.com/a/trla.org/eldorado-media-updates/Home

(TrLA's media site can get their :
Writ of Mandamus (s))

-------------------------

San Angelo Newspaper
(Has court Documents to right)

http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2008/may/13/cps-says-sect-mother-who-gave-birth-april-29-not/
------------------------------

Mental Health workers statements

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_9238520

(..in box)

+

Pdf's here in comments at 5:20 pm 5/13/08

http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2008/may/13/cps-says-sect-mother-who-gave-birth-april-29-not/?show_comments=1#comments

TexasRN said...

Some Reporters are Waking Up to CPS Stories

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I printed it out and read it in the van on our way out of town.
Unbelievable.
No wonder reporters called it a farce.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Classy- one part where they say the only 'abuse' mentioned is what might happen anywhere from ten to sixty years from now.
"CPS does not have a crystal ball."

Did You Know? said...

very nice blog... keep up the good work!!! God Bless!!!

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of a quote that goes something like this:
"He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche .

CPS has made the assertion that the young women of this community were forced into marrying men much older than themselves. The women of the community insist that they are free to choose whether to get married or not. CPS counters that the choice is not really a choice at all, because it is a false choice - that the women either choose marriage, or something bad will happen to them for deciding not to get married. CPS further maintains that even those who enter into marriage readily are only doing so because they have been conditioned into believing this is a good choice, as a result of the authoritarian environment of their faith. It is CPS (and the courts) opinion that this is a "bad thing".

Contrast this to the present situation CPS has imposed upon these very same mothers.

Since being taken into custody, CPS has maintained that the adult mothers can and could leave at any time, even to attend the 14 day hearing or to speak with their attorneys. Thus the mothers are not being physically detained. Yet, the mothers are given the choice; stay with your children, or leave and not be allowed back. The authoritarian environment in this example is the State (CPS), and the choice is really a false choice. It is CPS (and the courts) opinion that this is a "good thing".

Who shall fight the dragons once the dragon fighters have become dragons themselves? Where is Saint George when you need him?

lowery.shirley said...

I think what we are seeing now is a mild preview compared to what we will see when the Adam Walsh Act kicks in and government powers increase dramatically. This was not even passed legally and it will do an astronomical amount of damage. States are being promised millions to implement it but we will be stuck will spending billions to maintain it. Children will be less safe as the fear of our government grows. Can some of you lawyers weigh in on this? Texans need to send a loud and clear message that we are not for sale. Other states are smart enough to reject it. Texans can raise hell or sit back and let it happen.

Free the Children said...

http://freetechildrenaction.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

CPS - 13 years ago my daughter, 1 year old at the time, was burned in an accident at a day care, hot water for bottles left on reach, she pulled it down on herself. She had second and a small area of third degree burns to her face and chest. We were angry but lawsuit was not considered. Doc fixed her up and sent her home. A few days later we were asked if CPS had contacted us, NO. Started to do some investigating and found out that this incident and many others, some serious, had been covered up by this particular day care owner. We wanted answers and there were none to be had. Lawyer time, I wanted the guy closed down, money was not the object. Long story short, never made it to trial, big pressure put on lawyer. If owner found responsible, CPS incompetence would be found out about.
All of this happened in a town were an 80+ year old women locked the bathroom door in a hotel, fell and turned scalding water on , unable to get up or husband get in, door locked. Woman died due to her injury, family awarded millions. My daughter did receive a settlement from the insurance company of 5,000.00. CPS is a joke and law enforcement has fast become the same.
I am from original Texan family on both sides, yes Indian one side, and become less proud of this once Great Republic every day. I am all for disbanding the incompetent over intrusive government and starting over.

Stephen said...

Between this and the MHMR employees statements, I keep wondering what happens next.

lowery.shirley said...

Can we draw up a "no confidence" petition asking our attorney general,, governor, heads of CPS, Judge Walther, Sheriff Doran, TX Rangers leaders to step down? I would happily put my name on it.
By itself it would have little impact but the media could change that.
The average society stands 200 years before a civil war is needed to clean out the the rat's nests. I don't know if it is possible for us to reclaim our state and common-sense values without the war. We talk but with no outward show of resistance while the Feds are taking positions to keep us cooperative.
We have no blogs that address the overall problem and no visionary leader to guide our efforts. Without strong leadership we will go nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Rev. (Baptist, retired) Charles Kiker from Tulia:

Associated Press Report: I saw it in the Amarillo Globe News, "Early costs for Eldorado raid nearly $7.5million."

And the financial costs have only begun. The article quotes Senator Bob Deuell, R-Greenville and another Senate Finance Committee Member (unnamed): "We can't wash our hands from it -- we're the ones who did it. I hope it was the right thing to do."

My first reaction to this fiasco was that it was just that--a fiasco. And I haven't changed my mind.

By the way, I gave my girl friend an engagement ring on her 16th birthday. We were legally married a little over three months later. (Both of us have to have parental permission.) And we had our first child 13 months after that. Grits knows that child, and I think he would agree that she turned out pretty well.

Thanks, Grits, for keeping this before at least a part of the public.

Thanks, Grits, for keeping this before at least a part of the public.

And please, let's call a halt to the wholesale Baptist bashing. Some of us are bigots, but not all of us.

doran said...

Lowery, I like the idea of a no-confidence petition. If you draft one, why not post it for comments. After a final form is determined, maybe we can find a tolerant, sympathetic, understanding blogger, hint, hint, to post if with a facility for signing it online.

lowery.shirley said...

Doran, I was going to ask that you draw up a petition to get us started. We will need input on wording and names of those at whom this is directed.
We have many here who post anonymously. How many do we have who would actually sign and give whatever verification is necessary?
We have people with the skills to whip up something basic. Multiple submissions would be of great help in putting together a final draft.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I basically go anon on the internet because of a mentally troubled birth parent to two of our adopted children.

But I signed my real name and gave real information on the petition Conner set up, and I would do it here, too. I probably just wouldn't let anybody online know which of those signatures was mine.=)

doran said...

Lowery:

I try to avoid doing things like you ask, because I am never satisfied with the finished product, I anguish over getting it right, the product languishes while I anguish, and I stress-out.

I'll work on it, but don't expect it anytime soon. I will welcome anyone else who wants to make the first, or later, drafts.

lowery.shirley said...

Vote of No Confidence In Texas Leadership Petition

We, the people, are the government in the State of Texas. Our public servants are elected, appointed or employed to look out for the interests of the people. There is an oath of office that comes with the responsibility and it is not to be taken lightly.
Like a plague spreading across the state a growing number of representatives and agencies are hijacking government From their elevated positions they make rash decisions that seriously harm Texas residents. Settling personal differences based on bias and hate can, and has, resulted in millions of dollars being added to the tabs of Texas tax payers.
This self-appointed government is intrusive and abusive with little regard for civil rights of the people. Our chosen leaders have abandoned their responsibilities to go into business for themselves and the State of Texas has been disgraced.
Those who break the law should be punished with no immunity due to status and position. Those who have broken trust with the people should resign from public office. We cannot get Texas back on track with leadership in which we have no confidence.
Below is a partial list of stand-out individuals who easily meet the criteria for a No Confidence vote. We urge those who agree to sign our petition and leave comments. Let’s unite and speak with one voice.

The Turn-Around Texas Project

(This is a general idea. The list of names will link it to Eldorado but the petition does not limit us to Eldorado. I need help here. Is this the message we want to get out? If so, we need a polished version.)

TxBluesMan said...

Alas, Doran,

Every once in a while I have to actually work....

Do you have any evidence of the lies? I haven't seen any...

BTW, I wasn't all that impressed with the Habeas petition - too easy to refute, and the cites aren't really on point...

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