Saturday, April 26, 2008

What's in a name? What should we call the gigantic mess emanating from Eldorado?

Salt Lake City Tribune reporter Brooke Adams rightly declares this picture of a FLDS child waving goodbye to her mother is "worth a thousand words." Just heartwrenching. Can what's happening really be in the best interests of this little girl? Is this really the only option the state has to protect her from possible abuse ten years from now?

Adams has rightly suggested recently that the Texas raid on the YFZ polygamist ranch in Eldorado needs a name. She proposed "the 2008 YFZ raid," which seems a little tame. "The Great Texas Polygamist Roundup" might be apropos ... even more so "The Great Texas Polygamist Clusterf#*k." With all the religious folks involved in this discussion, though, I doubt the latter suggestion will catch on. ;)

The missus thinks that, just like with Tulia, "This thing already has a name, and it's name is 'Eldorado.' I hope this is what the people in that town want to be remembered for over the next 50 years. It'll be the only thing anyone knows them for," she said just now when I told her what I'm writing about. Good point.

History will judge what Texas does with (or to) these families, and perhaps apply its own retrospective appellation based on facts that come out and the case's final outcome. But for now, what's a good short-term name for this fiasco? Offer your best suggestions in the comments.

I've had a hard time turning my attention away from this train wreck, and wanted to point out several more important news stories on the topic - whatever we're going to call it - that deserve Grits readers attention.


Anonymous said...

The Vancouver Sun reporting another 25 minor mothers identified,

"Texas authorities said they have identified 25 more mothers below age 18 among those removed from a polygamist compound, raising to about 460 the number of minors at the heart of a huge abuse probe."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I think that may be partially a result of this news the previous day.

The increase in the number of detainees post-raid from 416 to 437 to 462 is a fascinating sub-plot in all this, and hard to decipher. The only way these additional women were "identified" was their own self-reported age, but other than hoping to stay with their kids, I can't see a motive to volunteer for CPS custody. See the comment string following this earlier post on the topic.

Anonymous said...

What are some sites covering this? I'm looking brooke adams, this site, this onem and What are some other sites that are offering regular updates on this?

Kathy G said...

Thank you for staying on this and speaking up.

Who will follow these 462 nameless children and report what is happening to them? Will some University step up and document each of their lives so we can all know of the long term effects this raid will have on them over the course of their lives?

Some other sites:

Anonymous said...

Grits, we need to keep in mind that those kids are at the heart of this mess. They are the victims, some of them perhaps by the way they were treated at the YFZ Ranch, ALL of them by the way the State of Texas is treating them. The kids are the ones paying for the incompetence and venality of State of Texas bureaucrats and judicial officers. (As a short aside, don't you just love the way the 3rd Court of Appeals is going to stick to procedure, even though those kids are being victimized by the State's failure and refusal to proceed according to procedure?) The kids are paying -- with their emotional and physical health and development -- for the fraud and crookedness of law enforcement, for the dogmatic, anti-religious zeal of CPS, for the poor exercise of discretion by a judicial officer who seemed not to know what she was doing or didn't care enough for those kids to give each and every one of them the judicial attention they deserved.

So lets name this debacle something that will everlastingly evoke the image of that girl in the photo, and of every one of those children. I've been trying to refer to them as The Eldorado Kids. It is kinda western/Texas, spaghetti western, I suppose, but it keeps the focus on the children and on Eldorado. How about The Saga of The Eldorado Kids? The Tragic Saga of The Eldorado Kids? It will be after all, a continuing and tragic saga for them. Years and years, in my opinion.

Kathy G said...

Hmmm. What do you think about this from an Abiline children's shelter?

Should reporters be allowed into these homes to take pictures of the kids or should their identities be protected? If they can take pictures now, why were there no reporters allowed into the places they were being detained before???? Why no pictures of that? Why don't we have pictures of how happy they all were to leave their mothers?

It seems to me these children are doing what they have to do to survive. Any child would be having fun on a playground after being stuck where they've been for two weeks!! Show me some pictures of them in their beds tonight when they're crying because they want their mothers.

Kathy G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy G said...

Ok, I'm not able to get that link to work. It's a video and pictures in the Abilene Online Reporter News of some of the FLDS children at play.

Kathy G said...

I think I figured it out. I'm new at this.

KMDuff said...

What I don't understand is why this hasn't been in the news in Dallas all week! Is it really so commonplace in TX for CPS to step all over people's rights that no one wants to hear about it anymore?

blog648 said...

I've been calling it the Texas Child Hostage Crisis on my blog. I believe that's what these kids are. They've been taken hostage by the state of Texas, and they'll hold them until someone comes forward and gives them what they want, which is testimony that there was ongoing physical and sexual abuse, because they don't seem to have very much in the way of actual physical evidence.

That photograph truly is heartwrenching.

You're doing good work here, Grits. Please keep it up.

Deb said...

I admit I've defaulted to "Eldorado" myself. Kathy's point is well taken tho...doubtful they want to do down in history as 'guilt by proximity' in essence for either the FLDS's reputation or the State's turning it into a debacle.

Does every white Tulian or Jasper-ite go down in history as a racist? Does every Crawfordite go down in history as an unapologetic Bush supporter to the bitter end? (when many there wish he never would have come to town whatever their political leanings are).

What will every Eldoradian be tagged with?

I think Doran's on the right track...separates the townsfolks from the compound issues and the tragedy come upon the children.

Using anything with "Polygamist" in the title assumes polygamy has taken place. I don't believe we've still seen proof of that, unless I missed something, and darn if one who is striving to pay close attention couldn't easily miss some key points in this mess.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Anonymous, I'm finding the '25 more under-aged mothers' found hard to track. Different CPS workers seem to be telling different stories to different reporters, and, of course, the reporters could be getting plenty wrong, too.

Not every news story reports them as mothers- some just say 25 girls who said they were adults were actually minors. One story I found said that CPS determined their minor status through their own representation and with information from the girl' attorneys. As Grit said, since they do not get to stay with their children if they are adults, it is not unreasonable to supposed that after CPS has made it clear that CPS wants to believe they are minors, we might have a few young ladies 18-25 or so claiming to be minors so they can be with their children.

Since CPS said these people had no reliable identification, it's kind of odd that they would be able to identify them as minors- I mean, it seems that either CPS wasn't entirely honest when they said the girls had no identifying documents, or it's not being honest now.

Darrell Azar, with CPS, says they have "dozens" of minors who have children or are pregnant.
Chris Van Deusen, a CPS spokesman, says (the same day, as near as I can tell): "The only thing we can say is we're aware that there are 20 girls who became pregnant, and they were between the ages of 13 and 16. That's not to say that there are 20 now, but at the time they conceived, they were 13, 14, 15 or 16," he said. "That establishes that there is some sexual abuse here."

What he doesn't say is when these girls became pregnant. One of these 20 under-aged girls is now thirty years old.

The SLTribune looked at the court documents and they say that while the CPS agent Angie Voss testified about all those pregnant minors and under-aged mothers, what she did not explain is that she was talking about cases going back a far as 1993- most of them ten years ago, almost all of them from either a time when they were not legally under-age, or they weren't even in Texas.

And a story today reports that: "Two teenage girls are pregnant, and although identities and ages have been difficult to nail down, CPS officials say no more than 30 minor girls in state custody have children."

'No more than thirty' could mean thirty, and it could mean... 2. We don't know. And, of course, that makes CPS agent Azar a liar, as he said there were 'dozens.'

Parker, the lawyer for FLDS, says that they actually only have one girl that is pregnant. They said they had three under-aged pregnant girls. One was 18 two weeks ago (and she hasn't been released), and one refused to let them give her a pregnancy test (making it seem she's not so terribly compliant and unable to speak for herself as they said these girls are). He says they are counting her refusal as a known pregnancy. That leaves one under-aged pregnancy, which is far, far less than the ratio for any other group in Texas.
Maybe they're right- but it seems weasel-like to me, if that weren't a bit unfair to weasels.

And Grit, you're right- I couldn't bring myself to actually use your suggested title for the mess, but I almost wish I could. It was very apt- an apple of gold in settings of silver.=)

Anonymous said...

Wait, let's go back to the top and anonymous' point that the number of minors increased to 462 after 25 moms below age 18 finally told investigators their real ages.

Grits suggests it has something to do with CPS changing its normal practices to allow nursing moms to say with their kids. But the story he links specifically says 'adult mothers.'

I think this is more than a 'fascinating sub-plot.' It may be first crack in the FLDS' stonewalling as these child-mothers are separated from the pack and find they don't have to be so fearful of strangers.

This may give prosecutors a bigger pool of child-mothers willing to testify about whatever the hell goes on in that compound.

Or maybe not. We'll find out soon enough.

CPS and law enforcement have said they have evidence of bigamy and illicit sex with minors -- stuff that most here can't or don't believe. But what happens if they do?

We don't know what proof the state has of bigamy and statutory rape -- Prosecutors rarely lay out their case in public before trial. But the time fast approaches when they will have to.

Not that many here seem to care what the evidence is. Based solely on preconceived notions about pretty much everything, as well as a marked antipathy to government, folks here have decided that CPS and the state are guilty and the polgyamists are just simple, maligned religious folk who were minding their business.

Sure, let's send the kids back to the compound. But what happens to all the indignation and pity poured out here if and when that business turns out to be pretty nasty indeed?

'Oops. Guess we were wrong." just won't cut it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Dave, the child pictured in the window is just a "simple, maligned religious [kid] minding [her] own business." That much is certainly true. But I don't agree with your assessment that:

"folks here have decided that CPS and the state are guilty and the polgyamists are just simple, maligned religious folk who were minding their business."

That's hogwash.

"Folks here," speaking for myself are angry that the state didn't distinguish between innocent and guilty, and that the overreaction will prevent going after actual perpetrators. Instead the state's actions punished only the victims.

They've clearly botched this six ways from Sunday, especially if, after all they've done until now, they're just getting their "first break" in the investigation. That's WAY too little too late to justify what's happened.

The evidence was good enough to seize the kids because the legal threshold is so low. But if any actual child molesters exist, they'll go free because of the overreach. That is, if they exist. Maybe isn't proof. The allegations of forcible rape were phony, and today's Salt Lake Tribune says there's just one pregnant teen among the bunch.

As for the expanding number in CPS custody, nobody knows their ages, or whether they told the truth about their age before, or now. Though we can only speculate, I suspect some or all of the last batch may be adults saying or doing anything to stay with their kids. (Regarding the previous increase CPS admitted they just miscounted.)

These folks all have lawyers, so accepting placement doesn't mean they're now cooperating with CPS or criminal investigators. I think you're grasping at straws to justify a bad act after the fact, and seriously doubt that will turn out to be a "break" in the case.

You're right about another thing: Time will tell. I wonder how old this little girl will be when DFPS says "Ooops, guess we were wrong" and sends her back to her momma?

Anonymous said...

Headmistress, is there really an 18 year old woman who has not been "released"? If so, she can walk any time she wants, if she has not been arrested. If CPS is "holding" her, that amounts to kidnapping or false arrest. Hope someone follows up on this.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how old this little girl will be when DFPS says "Ooops, guess we were wrong" and sends her back to her momma?

Well, if it's the monstrous miscarriage of justice you've laid out, sooner than later - depending when the judicial clock began. And with as many ad litem lawyers involved, she'll be a very rich little girl.

The point is, we don't know what the state knows about this group. We don't know what members of the group are telling investigators. All we have are a bunch of 'ifs' and suppositions drawn from the limited facts available to the media.

Botched case? Maybe. Maybe not. No proof of statutory rape (I never said anything about forced rape) -- we'll see. Was there bigamy and forced 'spiritual marriages' of minors -- it appears that way to me, but ...we'll see if.

And though I never said a word about your specific analysis of the issue -- which falls into the 'reasonable people can disagree' category -- if you don't think there is more than a subtle theme of a jack-booted fascistic state agents bearing down on a simple, religious sect who've broken no laws, you haven't been reading the comments in your blog.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Doran, that's what their lawyer says:
"Parker said one CPS list shows some of the minors in state custody are or are about to become adults. One girl sent to a Baptist emergency shelter turned 18 nearly two weeks ago, he said."

I think CPS has covered itself for holding these young adults though, with the judge's complicity. The judge ruled in court that they were going to go with DNA testing because, in this day and age, she had no way of knowing whether or not their documents were forged.
So even if the girl has identification saying she is 18, CPS, it appears, can just say, "We don't believe you. These papers might be forged."

Kathy G said...

It's nearly impossible to sort out what the truth is in this heartbreaking situation.

What my heart and mind tell me is that whatever the truth is that comes out in the end (if it does), it's the innocent who will suffer because of it.

I appreciate the fact that on this blog we're able to express our opinions in an intelligent, thoughtful, and respectful manner. You all make me think and that's a good thing.

Thank you.

Gadfly said...

I propose the:

Fuck Let's Do Something, or FLDS, raid.

Gadfly said...

Some further comments.

If the minors develop "Stockholm Syndrome," statutory charges will be awfully hard to prove.

If there's no paper trail, or e-trail, of actual marriage licenses or ceremonies, ditto.

That said, this is today, not 1890. Why doesn't some FLDS-type group... or some Muslim, for that matter, challenge the constitutionality of monogamous marriage laws?

Anonymous said...

According to John Walsh, in all of the other fundamentalist mormon communities that he has studied (he has no first hand knowledge of the one in texas that was raided) men and women have sex in special religious long garments and most men have NEVER seen their wives naked, and vice versa.

Is the situation that John Walsh presents where girls are judged to be mature, are guided in their choice of mates by themselves, their parents, and the broader community, and then have pleasureless sex dedicated entirely to procreation really what statutory rape laws were meant to stop? I don't think so.

I think they should stop doing underage marriages, but I don't think anyone should be punished (and certainly not jailed or forced to leave their community) for any sex that fits the description i just outlined.

I definitely think the frankly weird nature of sex in these communities is relevant, and i'm puzzled why its not part of the debate.

Anonymous said...

Heres the link that got cut off. Just search the page (ctrl-f) for "Most FLDS men have never even seen their wives naked" and you'll get to the relevant part

Anonymous said...

Er, anonymous, I believe the statutory rape laws were passed to stop adults from having sex with minor children. Period.

It has nothing to do with the pleasure or lack thereof experienced in sexual activity with kids.

What an amazingly strange idea to think it does.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say you've done a great job keeping up us abreast of this story. Great job.

Anonymous said...

I want to know who has the plan. The mainstream media keeps stating that CPS will/did place the family groups together. That is a lie. They split them up by age. THat goes against every professional opinion out there. Another grand plan by the great State. The only way it could screwed up worse if if they let those clowns at TYC get involved. Ha.

Anonymous said...

Dave: I think it does matter and clearly the CPS agree because they're trying to paint this sect as a bunch of sex crazed maniacs with an insatiable lust for teenage flesh.

Anonymous said...

Think away, anon. It's just that the law says nothing about pleasure.

Section 22.011 (a) (2) of the Texas Penal Code provides that a person who has sexual relations with a child younger than 17 years of age is guilty of Sexual Assault.

Even if the child agrees to have sex, it's still sexual assault -- since a minor can not legally give consent.

Anonymous said...

I made no claims about what was in the law, only about a just and reasonable application of the law.

The Local Crank said...

"What's in a name? What should we call the gigantic mess emanating from Eldorado?"

I call dibs on "Fiasco in Eldorado," though it only rhymes if you mispronounce the name of the town.

"Er, anonymous, I believe the statutory rape laws were passed to stop adults from having sex with minor children. Period"

There's no such thing as statutory rape in Texas anymore; it's sexual assault of a child. And that fact leads to other abuses, since it essentially allows the outraged parents of sexually active teenagers an absolute veto over the lives of their boyfriends or girlfriends. But that's a whole 'nother discussion.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Crank- There's no such thing as statutory rape in Texas anymore; it's sexual assault of a child. And that fact leads to other abuses, since it essentially allows the outraged parents of sexually active teenagers an absolute veto over the lives of their boyfriends or girlfriends. But that's a whole 'nother discussion.

I'll bet you loved the CPS expert witness's testimony:"Young girls who are 14, 15 or 16 are not emotionally mature enough to enter into healthy sexual relationships,"

I keep wondering when CPS is going to act on that expert opinion and apply it to the rest of Texas teens.=)

Anonymous said...

What's in a name? A rose made of turds by any other name still smells like crap.

I agree the YFZ Raid is too tame. How about the KMG Raid, for "Kiss Mommy Goodbye"

Kathy G said...

Check out this Press Release from the TRLA:

"TRLA has received information from a CPS worker that a client’s child is currently in the hospital, on antibiotics, and being kept at the hospital for observation. The child’s ad litem called the hospital and was told that there is no one there with the child’s name. A representative from Kidz Harbor has told the ad litem that the child is in the ICU.

TRLA is trying to confirm if the child is in the hospital and what condition she is in.

The child is 2 ½ years old.

Judge Walthers has indicated that CPS was told to allow mothers to be when their children when they are sick. Not only is this mother not able to confirm where her child is or what her current health situation is, but the mother is not being allowed to be with this child or her other nursing children."

If this is true, I wonder if this child would be so ill if he hadn't been removed from his home, warehoused for weeks, and traumatized by being pulled from his mother's arms. "Best interests of the children" my eye! That child needs his mother - YESTERDAY!

Anonymous said...

What Did The FLDS Kids Do To Deserve This?
Ben Stein Says Texas Authorities Are Acting Like The Gestapo By Taking Away The Children Of A Mormon Sect

"Can't someone say the obvious here? That in this case, it's not the Mormons who are the criminals, it's the government of Texas."

Anonymous said...

I don't think "Kiss Mommy Goodbye" is a good title, one of the more objectionable things about the response to all of this is the way that a man's relationship to his children is seen as somehow inferior to a woman's. I wouldnt want to use any title that played on that.

The Local Crank said...

"I keep wondering when CPS is going to act on that expert opinion and apply it to the rest of Texas teens.=)"

Given that the fathers of most children born to underage girls are usually adults, there was some talk about more aggressively prosecuting them for sexual assault in order to crack down on teen pregnancy. Given how catastrophic this fiasco turned out to be, I've definately changed my mind on that score.

kbp said...

Thanks Grits

My re-reading of the article Grits so kindly linked leaves me more lost than informed. Maybe it should have been titled the Texas 3 Step.

From all I've read, it seems the first step in this custody matter was the petition. The CPS, as clearly as I can tell, at least stumbled some on that STEP 1, getting the cart before the horse on a few of the children taken away before the petition came about (18 children I believe it was). Nobody seems to question this STEP 1, so I guess they were close enough.

We all saw they missed STEP 2, the 14 day hearing, as it was a joke the way it ignored all individual suits.

So on to STEP 3, parting out the children in custody throughout the state in various locations. The appellate court decided that fine move "met statutory requirements". This is where I get confused.

TBM, though a pinch biased such as myself (!), has pointed out this all falls under "procedural' matters. Maybe I should call it the Procedural Shuffle instead of the Texas 3 Step. Using either name, it still looks like they're dancing out of step.

How can the court ignore the question on STEP 3, if STEP 2 is a prerequisite to getting to that STEP 3 and the court has agreed to hear arguments that "the judge did not have sufficient evidence or hold proper hearings before deciding to keep the children in custody" evidently admitting that STEP 2 may be in question?

Anonymous said...

Charles in Tulia:

"Eldorado Heartbreak" or, as Grits has already suggested, simply "Eldorado."

kbp said...

El Duh! Raido

Anonymous said...

'Everything's bigger in Texas - CPS/DPS State Tour '08'

...but we still need a promo jacket and logo patches...

TxBluesMan said...

headmistress said:

"I keep wondering when CPS is going to act on that expert opinion and apply it to the rest of Texas teens."

Well, the pregnancy rate among Texas teens in 2001 was 4.6%, while (according to Fox News) 31 of the 53 teens (aged 14-17) at the FLDS compound were either pregnant or had a child. That's a pregnancy rate of 58.4%, or more than 12 times the rate of the state as a whole.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I'm not a statistician, but that seems to be a significant difference to me....

Anonymous said...

The official count of the children removed from the FLDS Church ranch is now 463, one more than previously reported. All 250 girls and 213 boys were ordered to be placed into state custody because of abuse allegations, including "a pattern of grooming girls from a young age to accept becoming married to middle-aged men."

New statistics released Monday indicate that 53 of the girls are between the ages of 14 and 17. "We believe that 31 of them either have children or are pregnant," Crimmins said. "In most cases, that's what the girls have told us."

Of those 53, Crimmins said 26 claim to be 18 or older. "But we don't think they are," he said.,5143,695274752,00.html