FLDS couple reunited with child, Texas fear families will flee justice

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One of the children, who on April 6 was removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) compound in Texas, has been reunited with his/her parents after a deal was struck between the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the parents.

Although the Texas authorities retain legal control over the child, the parents have been given the temporary right to look after their child. Dan Jessop, one of the parents, commented on the development. "It's one step closer to my family being together."

YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Image: Randy Mankin of the Eldorado Success.

401 allegedly abused children were taken into state custody last month after officials received a call from a distressed 16-year-old girl. The children were found in a 1700-acre compound belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is now believed that the original phone call was actually a hoax.

The agreement follows an appeals court-ruling that Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) should not have taken the children from the FLDS.

Meanwhile, CPS filed court papers today, saying that the families may choose to flee Texas if they are reunited per the appeals courts ruling. If they did that, they would suddenly be outside the court's jurisdiction, putting them at risk of abuse.

Lawyers for the mothers of the children, filed a counter-motion, stating that the children face "continuing, irreparable harm every day that they are separated from their parents."

Police were monitoring the compound ever since it was bought by the group one year ago. According to Texas law there must have been "a danger to the physical health or safety of the child which was caused by an act or failure to act of the person entitled to possession and for the child to remain in the home is contrary to the welfare of the child".

In addition to the above there must also be "the urgent need for protection required the immediate removal of the child and reasonable efforts, consistent with the circumstances and providing for the safety of the child, were made to eliminate or prevent the child’s removal"

Aerial view of the FLDS ranch.
Image: Canadaolympic989.

Finally, for state custody to be allowed there must also have been "reasonable efforts have been made to enable the child to return home". A lower court was given 10 days to make a decision on whether the above requirements are met. Although originally the mothers were allowed to stay with the children, they are not required to be separate unless the parents are aged under eighteen or the children are very young. The FLDS said in an open letter the Governor of Texas that a "critical crisis" was unfolding due to these recent incidents.

In addition to Texas, the group has compounds in Hildale and many other locations. The church has around 10,000 members in total, and was founded in the 1930s. The church split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints due to the fact that it abandoned polygamy.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is led by Warren Jeffs – jailed last year for the rape and forced marriage of a 14 year old girl – is a breakaway branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which abandoned the practice of polygamy in 1890.


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Sources

Wikipedia Learn more about Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and YFZ Ranch on Wikipedia.
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