Children Should Not Have Been Removed From Polygamist Ranch, Court Rules

May 22, 2008 05:46 PM
by Josh Katz
A Texas appeals court ruled Thursday that child welfare officials should not have taken the 463 children from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April.

30-Second Summary

The Texas Third District Court of Appeals agreed with the arguments presented by 38 women that their children should not have been removed from the polygamist ranch, overturning the ruling by a district judge last month giving the state custody of the children.

The three-judge panel said the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services “did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health or safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty,” according to CNN.

The court said there was no evidence that “the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal prior to full litigation of the issue.”

On April 4, state officials raided the compound after receiving a call from a 16-year-old girl claiming that her 50-year-old husband sexually abused her. Authorities bused hundreds of women and children out of the ranch and placed the children in foster care.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had said at least 41 of the children had past injuries of unknown origin and 31 out of 53 of girls between 14 and 17 years old were mothers or were pregnant.

Some of the children’s parents have expressed concern over the course of events. They have said they do not know where their children are, and the mothers of more than 100 children have still not been determined.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) separated from the central Mormon Church in 1890.

Headline Link: Court rejects state’s argument for holding children

Background: From the raid to the court ruling

Opinion & Analysis: The state’s right to remove the children

Video: Life at the Eldorado ranch

Key Player: Warren Jeffs (1955–)

Historical Context: The 1953 raid in Short Creek, Ariz., and the 1993 siege in Waco, Texas

Reference: Court decision, Polygamous sects and how to help the women and children of YFZ


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