Let's consider what would happen if Casey's notion were applied more widely to religious groups when abuse arises among their leadership. In all seriousness, why wouldn't the same logic suggest seizing the assets of the Catholic Church? According to them, “The marriageable age is fourteen full years in males and twelve full years in females, under penalty of nullity (unless natural puberty supplies the want of years)." See the Catholic Encyclopedia. That's far younger than any marriage alleged to have occurred among residents of the YFZ Ranch.
Meanwhile, literally thousands of priests allegedly committed sexual abuse of minors, but President Bush met the Pope at the airport and the nation cheered as he said "God Bless America" Comedian Bill Maher recently declared (probably accurately if somewhat bombastically) that "if the pope, instead of a religious figure, was the CEO of a chain of nationwide day care centers who had thousands of employees who had been caught molesting children and then covering it up, he would have been in jail." (Jail, by the way, is where Warren Jeffs is - the question is whether to jail or seize children from his parishioners)
So if the Pope supports marriage of girls as young as age 12, and presides over an organization riddled with child molesters and people who covered for them, why isn't what's good for the goose good for the gander?
Where is the call to seize all Catholic Church owned property? Will that be Casey's next column?
Meanwhile, lots of news cropping up nearly every day now regarding the YFZ raid, and thanks to Grits commenters for linking to a bunch of it:
First, here is the official public notice for DFPS legal proceedings against FLDS parents, published in the Eldorado Success. Whatever your opinion about the case, read every name and pray for the kids.
One month after the massive state raid on the YFZ Ranchin West Texas, the Salt Lake Tribune tallies the topline numbers from the case:
599 DNA samples collected;Some of the primary source documents are coming out on which DFPS allegations were based. A "Bishop's Record" was released yesterday that amounts to a census of every family living at the YFZ Ranch. (See various analyses of the data by readers in Grits' comments.) Can this really be the biggest "smoking gun" the state has? Even if individual abuse cases can be made, the data to me just doesn't justify seizing every kid on the Ranch.
464 children in state custody;
16 group shelters caring for the children;
One warrant canceled;
No charges issued.
In other important news, the warrant against Dale Barlow was finally dropped yesterday, even though Texas Rangers visited him in Arizona weeks ago. The Inspector Clusoe-like investigators at DPS say they're "still investigating" whether the phone call was a hoax, though the likelihood it's not is near zero.
Speaking of support for the warrants, now it turns out authorities already knew their suspect Dale Barlow wasn't at the ranch when they first went in, having spoken to him by phone. To me that casts tremendous doubt on whether authorities really executed the original search warrant in good faith. The Denver Post reports that, according to information included in a court filing by FLDS attorney Gerry Goldstein:
"Prior to executing the initial warrant, (Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran) was advised that Dale Barlow was in Arizona and not on the premises sought to be searched. In fact, prior to entering the premises Sheriff Doran actually spoke to Dale Barlow in Arizona by cellphone, confirming his driver license number and the fact that he was in Arizona," the filing says.
Barlow advised the sheriff that he did not know Sarah Jessop, he had not been to Texas in more than 20 years, nor had he ever been to YFZ Ranch, according to the filing.
If provable, that's a critical fact. A pro-raid attorney at FindLaw wrote recently, "Absent clear evidence that the state fabricated the call or misled the judge who granted the initial search warrant, neither of which seems remotely plausible, the entry cannot be faulted on constitutional grounds. " But these revelations indicate the state had reason to believe their information about Barlow was flawed long before they ever entered the ranch.
Amidst all this, in what's perhaps a back to the future moment, the feds are concluding their investigation of FLDS in Utah and Arizona without pursuing criminal charges (though state charges involving deposed FLDS head Warren Jeffs are still going forward). After a years-long investigation, though:
Given that Texas' search warrant was based on a hoax (which nearly everyone acknowledges except the Inspector Clusoe-like Texas Rangers who say they're "still investigating"), and the state can find no complaining victim, that perhaps gives us a clue of what Texas' investigation may look like several years down the line.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said it did not develop enough for subpoenas, search warrants or indictments.
"The fact that everyone may think something's going on ... ask Elliot Ness how easy it was," Tolman said. "He knew, and he knew Al Capone was involved. It still took quite a bit. It takes a lot, and it takes a concerted effort. Even though everyone may be clamoring, it doesn't make for a federal case."
In other odds and ends, if the state of Texas is looking for an expert witness, I think we have a volunteer. The Common Room continues to be an excellent source on the topic, as is the new Free the FLDS Children (non-FLDS affiliated). The blogger at Modern Pharisee, too, is getting pretty animated about the subject. See also a couple of recent articles on the topic by Houston criminal lawyer John Floyd. At blog648, a father discusses the incidence rate of broken bones in his family compared to FLDS.