Friday, December 05, 2008

Why no prosecution of false child abuse report in the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup?

A former supervisor with Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) was fired from the agency in May and now has been indicted for "making a false report of abuse," the Corpus Christi Caller Times reports, which leads me to ponder why we haven't seen similar charges lodged against Rozita Swinton, the prank phone caller whose false accusations of abuse launched the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup in West Texas last spring?

Why have they waited so long to pursue criminal charges against a hoaxter whose actions gave CPS (not to mention the legal system in San Angelo) an enormous black eye? Was what this woman allegedly did any worse than Swinton's offense?

We still haven't learned, by a longshot, the complete backstory to what happened during the days and hours leading up to the YFZ Ranch raid, and I'm betting a desire by authorities to keep it that way lies at the root of the failure by officialdom to extradite Swinton from Colorado and hold her accountable for reports that were clearly as false as any made by this supervisor.


Anonymous said...

Selective prosecution like this ruins the reputation and the integrity of any public system.
I think it ought to be a defense against prosecution if you can show in court that someone who committed the same crime you are charged with was NOT prosecuted because of connections, possible official embarrassment or corruption by public officials.

If such a policy existed, these days you couldn't prosecute a parking ticket, much less theft, murder, rape, embezzelment, et, et.

Anonymous said...

Charles Kiker here

My Daddy (may he rest in peace) had a saying, "Don't stir an old turd. It'll stink all over again." But when I was walking out in the pasture I could never resist taking a stick and turning over an old cow turd. There were always all sorts of interesting bugs under there. And Scott, I'm betting your exactly right about Texas authorities not wanting to know what kind of bugs may be under the YFZ turd, and they know it will stink again. So they say, "Don't stir that old turd.:

Anonymous said...

I'll take "Questions That Answer Themselves" for 2,000, Alex.

Robert Langham said...

The basic Idea at the foundation of American thought is that "all men are equal before the law.". When that's not the case the whole system shudders to a halt and chaos ensues.

Ron in Houston said...

For all your coverage of how many mentally ill are in the criminal justice system, it seems pretty hypocritical for you to be calling for the arrest of someone with clear mental health problems.

From the Desert News 10/17/2008

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — The woman suspected of making the hoax phone call that sparked the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's sprawling Texas ranch may soon be undergoing mental health treatment.

Court records obtained by the Deseret News revealed that Rozita Swinton will be entering inpatient treatment in November....

According to her plea deal, Swinton received a deferred judgment for a year and was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation, treatment and take all medications as prescribed. Court records indicate a letter was filed in the case, but clerks refused to release it saying it dealt with mental health issues.

Swinton's arrest in Colorado Springs has put her probation in jeopardy. She has been charged in El Paso County, Colo., accused of calling police and pretending to be a 13-year-old girl who was drugged, chained and being sexually abused in a basement. The phone call had officers going door-to-door in February, searching desperately for a girl who didn't exist. A counselor told authorities Swinton suffers from a multiple personality disorder, a police affidavit said.

I'd imagine they have enough to charge her, but is it really worth the time and money to extradite a crazy woman to Texas?

Anonymous said...

Worth the time and money? Are you kidding? Compared to what her actions have cost Texas, extridition is a real value for the money.

I suppose you'd rather she was allowed to do this all over again when she is no longer under the care of Colorado. If she is sane, then she should answer for her acts just like anyone else.

Either way, Texas should not sweep this one under the rug.

Ron in Houston said...

Anon 12:27

It's pretty likely she's guilty, but the question is just how sane she was at the time of the offense.

I think there are a combination of factors that are reasons she hasn't been prosecuted. Costs of experts and costs of extradition are factors.

I'm not going to deny that another factor is that the whole El Dorado mess is an embarrassment to Texas.

Anonymous said...

Charles Kiker again:

As Grits knows, I'm not one who likes to see people go to jail when it doesn't do anyone any good for them to go. But Texas needs to know what kind of bugs are under that old turd. So I think it's worthwile to stir it.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty likely she's guilty, but the question is just how sane she was at the time of the offense.

I guess we'll never know, if we don't get her here.

I think there are a combination of factors that are reasons she hasn't been prosecuted. Costs of experts and costs of extradition are factors.

Texas worrying about costs of prosecution? Bullshit. They're worried about the egg on their face if everything comes to light. To prove her guilty would reveal the facts that show that the DPS knew they were raiding a compound based on false allegations of abuse.

Cost of experts? Do you know how many mentally retarded people Texas has convicted? And even executed? That particular cost has never stopped them before.

I'm not going to deny that another factor is that the whole El Dorado mess is an embarrassment to Texas.

It's the only factor. The others you've mentioned are endured by the state on an almost daily basis.

Anonymous said...

This story is deader than TYC so move on grits. No need to kick over the slop jar boy. You keep this up and we will show how you are a hater of poor mentally ill black women.

Hugh McBryde said...

It's not so certain that Rozita is mentally ill. Her actions are far too calculating to call her actions a product of mental illness.

Never fear though, questions are being asked. Flora Jessop is now going to be deposed, and a big topic on the table will be Rozita Swinton. We'll see how far the calculating went I think, because I do not believe Flora was very careful.

Still, Texas bears more responsibility for believing Rozita, when Arizona and Utah did not, and have now chosen to dismiss similar cases that did not result in raids.

Unknown said...

It's not dead, it's just that some people (e.g. you) are bored with it.

And personally I share Hugh's doubt as to whether she is really mentally ill or not.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ron, just because I favor diversion and treatment to incarceration for many mentally ill offenders does NOT mean I support allowing the mentally ill to commit crimes with impunity.

Rev. Kiker hit the nail on the head - getting Swinton on the stand is likely the only way to ever determine the real backstory to the YFZ Ranch raid, or as he colorfully put it, the only way we can see the bugs under the turd. We can debate what her sentence should be if she's convicted, but for now I just want the full truth to come out.

The state spent many, MANY millions on this case - the idea they didn't pursue Swinton because of expense is pure nonsense, just defensive foolishness. Since you supported the raid, Ron, even after you found out it was based on a hoax, I guess I'm not surprised you don't want the hoax part investigated thoroughly. But besides CYA for CPS, there's no good reason Swinton shouldn't face justice for her actions, whatever result that turns out to be.

Hugh McBryde said...

Having been something of an activist for the rights of the mentally ill, I can assure you of one thing. Most people completely misunderstand what it is to be mentally ill.

The mentally ill are not irrational or illogical. The mentally ill have bad information.

There are two basic forms of mental illness. One is an affective disorder in which the emotional inputs are out of sync with what we would consider normal. Depression and "Bipolar Disorder" are versions of such afflictions. You and I would experience a strong emotion and rely on it for the most part to instruct us on how important a situation is, a bipolar person's emotional input is often too large in relationship to the actual importance of the event. The decisions they make are logical in relationship to the inputs.

A thought disorder, characterized by a primary feature of psychosis is more insidious but the rational behavior of the sufferer is same. They see Adolph Hitler come back to life for instance, threatening all the people of the world, or more commonly, a person who is not there, saying things that make very little sense. An exercise in understanding psychosis is to have a group of people surround you reading from the Bible, extreme and varied pornography and stories describing violent acts with a little Robert Frost thrown in. Imagine that reality is another person across the room speaking in a normal tone of voice.

Again, the schizophrenic makes rational decisions just as you and I do, but the information is of poor quality.

This rather long and involved post is to illustrate what Rozita is not. Her actions with regard to YFZ were calculating and otherwise accurate lies, designed to obtain a specific result in the real world. Her actions are akin to lighting a building on fire and watching from the shadows. She also has a pattern of doing just this, cruising around in the Colorado Springs area watching the police scurry while she wove her story of deceit.

One of the big questions is, did Rozita obtain information about YFZ on her own and move her attentions to a stage that could be watched at home, on TV or did she have help selecting her next target? Only testimony from her will ultimately determine that. She clearly knew what reality was, as she interacted with it so well.

Mentally ill she might turn out to be, but her actions were just plain wrong, and she knew it. Remember concealment is the first principle by which a mentally ill person's actions are judged. If she thought what she was doing was right, she'd have done it right out in the open. She knew they were wrong though, so she hid them.

Anonymous said...

Swinton may have the factor of mental illness working in her favor as an argument against her prosecution, but the law enforcement and other officials who acted on her questionable allegations don't. Surely better than prosecuting someone who sounds like a sad and inadequate individual would be a civil suit - Bivens action or whatever - against those who invaded the compound without probable cause and caused such misery to so many. In a civil suit there would be far more opportunity to get discovery that would provide a broad picture of who made the ridiculous decisions that brought about this fiasco. To expect a prosecution of Swinton would, in any event, be to ask the fox to examine its own mismanagement of the henhouse. (Sorry, weird metaphor!) That is not going to happen.

Hugh McBryde said...

So based on your last metaphor Anon, you think Rozita is "hot?"

Crusty said...

Everything in it's own time.

Time can be such a valuable asset. People begin forgetting and have plausible deniability on the stand. Better yet, even people who are the epitome of honesty will sometimes get confused on the stand, remember things differently at different times during questioning and even two perfectly honest people will provide conflicting testimony.

By the time the CPS is done with their investigations and FLDS prosecutions are finished, proving any missteps by any SOT authorities or others will just simply be impossible with so much conflicting testimony.

SeptSpirit said...

Her [Swinton's] attorney, David Foley of Colorado Springs, said he could not discuss the allegations.
"There's a lot more to this than the public is getting. I think people would be surprised. Stay tuned," Foley said.

Jessop said she continues to cooperate with Texas Rangers [20 Apr] in the investigation (she declined to release tape recordings of her conversations to the Deseret News, saying it was at their request). But she did not believe that Swinton should face any charges if she is found to be "Sarah."
"I think she ought to be helped because she's very disturbed," Jessop said. "I think in a lot of ways she's a hero to 416 children who are being protected from systemic and widespread abuses within the FLDS, but she went about it in a very wrong way."

"I would like to hug her [Rozita Swinton]. She accomplished getting 416 children out of a very abusive situation. But I'd also like to slap her because she went about it the wrong way." --

There was no OTHER way for Swinton to "save" those kids, how could she have possibly done it any OTHER way? I think this is a Fraudian slip on Flora's part. Why would she like to "slap her"? At this point, Flora and most of the nation felt certain those kids were gone for good. First to foster care and then quick and easy adoptions.

"I would like to point out that the system absolutely worked in this case," insisted Phoenix-based anti-polygamy activist Flora Jessop during the April 18 edition of "On the Record." "When -- as hotlines get calls from children purporting to be abused, just as I do, it's not my responsibility and my job to decide whether those calls are legitimate."

Which is to say that the system "worked," in Miss Jessop's view, because it brought about what she considered to be a desirable result -- the armed invasion of the YFZ Ranch, and the seizure of children from their parents by force -- irrespective of the truth. In fact, Jessop's statements on the record indicate that she considered the truth to be inconsequential.

kbp said...

" seems pretty hypocritical for you

...I'd imagine they have enough to charge her, but is it really worth the time and money to extradite a crazy woman to Texas?"

As I paste comments reading through here, I notice Scott handled that one well. ;)

Next topic:
"One of the big questions is, did Rozita obtain information about YFZ on her own and move her attentions to a stage that could be watched at home, on TV or did she have help selecting her next target? Only testimony from her will ultimately determine that."

You're either forgetting or are unaware of the accurate details she provided AFTER the raid had started, details in which only SOMEONE at the scene would have known. It was the Texas authorities that used that information as their EXCUSE to say she WAS within the group removed from the ranch (while still forgetting to trace the calls).

Rozita's case will be a Texas case classified as an "ongoing investigation" until somebody OTHER that Texas forces her to testify. I anticipate that will happen just before Texas, in their effort to get rid of the FLDS, makes them very wealthy.

And, as Scott focused on in the beginning of this mess, after all the checks have cleared the bank, Texas may not even have a single conviction due to the methods used to obtain those SW's.

Schliecher County can anticipate population growth in the future.

kbp said...


When I just realized my response was directed at you. Why did you not mention what I did?

You know more on Rozita than I.

Hugh McBryde said...


I was speaking more or less in a legal context. We can know all that we know and if it doesn't make it to testimony, it's not going to have any impact. I'm sorta changing gears, since I think Flora's deposition is going to create more questions that it answers.

Flora as nearly as I can tell has no legal representation, or at least none she has notified the court in Mojave County as her representative in this matter.

Her grandstanding last week with a TV crew brought to her voluntary statement shows she has little sense and thinks she can pull one over on people by playing to public attention.

It would seem to me Flora has never gotten into serious legal hot water over her conflict with the FLDS. That's over. This is the regular season, there are rules, points count, games count. I think she has pulled some pretty wild stuff and it makes a lot of sense to believe that it involved Rozita. Look for some attempt to depose Rozita after Piccarreta is done with her.

Anonymous said...

Grits appears to be the kind of guy that once he gets you down, he kicks you in the lungs and head. lol


Anonymous said...

Any sensible person knows that when you get your enemy down; you better kick them in the head, stomach, nuts and whatever gives you the advantage. Otherwise, you become the victim.