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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Children From the Polygamist YFZ Ranch

4/18/08 Update- Judge Orders FLDS Children To Stay in Texas State Custody.

[Update] The forgotten children of the FLDS compound...The Lost Boys.

After 416 children were removed last week from the Yearning for Zion Ranch, with 139 mothers voluntarily going with them, news came out that all the children 4-5 or older would be separated from their mothers until the court issues were determined.

Lawyers from all over have volunteered to represent the children, each child will have their own lawyer. mental health professions, the lawyers and the court all decided that until the abuse allegations were hashed out, the mothers of the children over 4-5 could not stay with the children.

The abuse allegations include, but are not limited to, spiritually marrying off 13 and 14 year olds girls to older men, which at that time the older men were able to have sexual relations with the children.

This is the largest case the Department of Family and Protective Services has ever been involved with and according to Marleigh Meisner who is their spokesperson, separating the children from their mothers was done for, "the safety of the children" and in consultation with the court, mental health professionals and lawyers for some of the children."

This was all kicked off when a young girl called authorities saying she was beaten and forced to have sexual relations with an older man after having been "spiritually" married to him.

The authorities raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ), collected documents and evidence of abuse, some of which from their eyewitness reports included teenage girls pregnant or already mothers many times over, a bed in the temple where it is alleged these older men forced the children to have sex with them.

After taking the children to a location better suited to housing them, Meisner told reporters, "Once we moved to the coliseum this afternoon, we notified the mothers who had children 5 years and older that they no longer would be able to stay with their children."

"It is not the normal practice to allow parents to accompany the child when an abuse allegation is made," Meisner said.

Approximately 51 of those mothers decided to return to the YFZ Ranch despite being offered shelter elsewhere. (Correction made to the amount of women that returned to the Ranch)

The children are being held in state protective custody pending a hearing Thursday in district court. On Monday, Texas District Court Judge Barbara Walther consulted with dozens of lawyers representing or hoping to represent children and other involved parties and said she was still trying to figure out how to manage a case involving perhaps hundreds of lawyers.

When all is said and done, Texas is now responsible for what happens to those 416 children. If they win full custody, it is their obligation to find them safe protective homes and to monitor their mental health. It is the State's responsibility as well to see to it that each child has legal representation and the mental health care that is needed.

It is also going to be a difficult case for the court to determine of the mothers of these children should be allowed to see them after having allowed them to be beaten and sexually abused while in their care.

Many of these mothers grew up with this lifestyle and some could say they simply didn't know any better and yet, the full 139 mothers did not return to the ranch and some opted for shelter elsewhere.

Are the mothers that returned to the ranch showing that they have no intention of protecting their children from the sexual abuse should they get custody back or did they go back simply for the sake of familiarity?

[Update ] A quick update on how the children are doing.

51 of the women were returned to the compound and six did not wish to return and were taken to another location at their request.

It is recognized that some of the FLDS children in state care may not have parents at the FLDS compound. They may have already been separated from their families and it will take time to sort out who is really related to whom and whether they really have relatives at the compound.

Current Status of the children:

  • Children in the Coliseum and pavilion are adapting well to their new surroundings. They are playing kickball outside and have a larger play area inside where they can color, hula hoop and play games with their siblings and friends.
  • While we know this was a difficult move for these children, their spirits are high and there are many smiles.
  • About 400 women and children under the age of 5 are housed in the San Angelo Colliseum.
  • About 100 older children are in the adjacent Wells Fargo Pavilion, where they are being cared for by CPS staff and licensed children care providers.
  • About two dozen teenage boys are being housed in a licensed foster care facility outside the immediate area.

Weigh in below.

Update on Polygamist Compound Raid-Documents Unsealed And Beds In The Temple
Documents Detail Abuse at YFZ Ranch
Now 400 Children In Custody from Polygamist Compound- Updated, Second Person Arrested
Standoff at Polygamist Compound-Updated
Children Removed from Warren Jeff's Polygamist Retreat in Texas
Polygamist Sect Leader Warren Jeffs Found Guilty In Utah