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FLDS Children Mistreated
April 14, 2008 permalink
A disaster is gradually unfolding for the hundreds of children seized in the Eldorado Texas raid. In the first article below mothers appeal for the return of their children to halt the abuse in temporary care. The children have been subject to horrifying physical examinations and several have become sick. The police have been confiscating cell phones, keeping families in the dark. In the second news story mothers describe their bereavement in the aftermath of child removal. This occurs in every child protection case, but it is only in the highest profile cases that it gets into the press. In other news items the FLDS sect has been criticized for teaching its members the delusion that the outside world is hostile to them.
Sect Mothers Appeal to Texas Governor
SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - The mothers of children removed from a polygamous sect's ranch in West Texas after an abuse allegation are appealing to Gov. Rick Perry for help, saying some of their children have become sick and even required hospitalization.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, the mothers from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also say children are "horrified" by physical examinations they have undergone while in state custody.
The mothers said the letter was mailed Saturday. Perry spokesman Robert Black said Sunday that he had not seen the letter and couldn't comment.
Some 416 children were rounded up and placed in temporary custody 11 days ago after a domestic violence hot line recorded a complaint from a 16-year-old girl. She said she was physically and sexually abused by her 50-year-old husband.
The one-page letter, signed by three women who claim they represent others, says about 15 mothers were away from the property when their children were removed.
"We were contacted and told our homes had been raided, our children taken away with no explanation, and because of law enforcement blockade preventing entering or leaving the ranch, we were unable to get to our homes and had no-where to go," it said. "As of Wednesday, April 9, 2008, we have been permitted to return to our empty, ransacked homes, heartsick and lonely."
The mothers said they want Perry to examine the conditions in which the removed children have been placed.
"You would be appalled," the letter said. "Many of our children have become sick as a result of the conditions they have been placed in. Some have even had to be taken to the hospital. Our innocent children are continually being questioned on things they know nothing about. The physical examinations were horrifying to the children. The exposure to these conditions is traumatizing them."
Asked about claims that children were hospitalized, state Child Protective Services spokeswoman Marissa Gonzalez said she had not seen the letter and would have to review it before commenting.
Officials have said that about a dozen children had chicken pox and that others needed prescription medications but hadn't said whether any were hospitalized.
A judge will decide this week whether the children will remain in state custody or return to their families. Hearings are scheduled for Monday and Thursday.
On Sunday, state officials enforced a judge's order to confiscate the cell phones of the women and children removed from the ranch.
The emergency order was sought by attorneys ad litem for 18 FLDS girls in the state's custody, Gonzalez said.
In a copy of the order provided to the AP, lawyers said the phones should be confiscated "to prevent improper communication, tampering with witnesses and to ensure no outside inhibitors to the attorney-client relationship."
Gonazalez estimated that at least 50 phones were taken.
The children are being housed in San Angelo's historic Fort Concho and at the nearby Wells Fargo pavilion. About 140 women from the ranch are also with the children, although they are not in state custody.
On Saturday, five FLDS women staying at the fort told Salt Lake City's Deseret News that the temporary shelter is cramped - cots, cribs and play pens are lined up side by side - and that many of the children are frightened.
An FLDS member who told the AP that his family members are among those inside the fort called the removal of phones a punishment.
"This was nothing more than retaliation of CPS to punish those who were disclosing what is really happening behind that wall of this concentration camp," said Don, who asked that only his first name be used because of the upcoming custody hearings.
Affidavits filed by child protection workers said they found a pattern of abuse at the Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, about 45 miles south of San Angelo.
The 1,700-acre fenced ranch, a former game preserve, was bought by the FLDS in 2003. A number of large dormitory-style homes have been built, along with a small medical center, a cheese factory, a rock quarry, a water treatment plant and a towering, white limestone temple.
Authorities said they have not yet located the teenage mother whose call for help triggered the raid at the ranch.
Texas authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the alleged husband, a man identified as Dale Barlow of Colorado City, Ariz., one of two communities on the Utah-Arizona border that have been the traditional home base of the secretive church.
Texas Rangers met with Barlow and his probation officer in St. George, Utah, on Saturday but did not arrest him. Barlow is serving three years' probation after pleading no contest to sexual misconduct with a minor - a teenager to whom he was spiritually married.
"As for Mr. Barlow, we are continuing to look into whether we have a warrant on the correct person," said Tela Mange, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. "Until we are able to locate and talk with the complainant it will be difficult for us to know for certain the correct identity of the alleged suspect."
The sect practices polygamy in arranged marriage that often pair underage girls with older men. The faith believes the practice will brings glorification in heaven. The mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, does not practice polygamy.
Source: My Way News
We call the photograph below, attached to both stories, "Bereaved for the Living". A mother of five identified only as Monica sits at the entrance of her home several days after losing her children.
First look inside YFZ Ranch
First look: Quiet is unnerving as FLDS members seek answers
YFZ RANCH, Texas — The children's shoes still sit neatly, side by side where they last left them. Child-sized shovels and miniature wheelbarrows sit on the porch of their three-story, log cabin-like home.
The only noise now emanating from this 1,700-acre compound is the rustle of the wind, birds chirping, the occasional scurry of a roadrunner or a truck traveling along the dirt roads.
"It's miserable. It's too quiet," says Nancy, struggling to keep her emotional voice loud enough to be heard.
This grandmother and others at the reclusive ranch belonging to the Fundamentalist LDS Church on Saturday allowed the Deseret News onto their land and into their homes, which were raided last week by Texas authorities. All 416 children who lived there were removed and placed into temporary state custody.
It was the first time they had allowed the media access to places they consider private and sacred. During interviews with ranch residents, FLDS officials insisted that questions remain focused on the children's plight and declined to discuss other topics, including allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
Those who spoke asked that only their first names be used.
Collectively, their hearts are broken but their spirits undaunted.
"If you know what it's like to have a little child look you in the eyes, throw their arms around your neck, smile and give you a hug, then you know what it's like (here now)," she said, turning her head and sobbing into her shoulder.
The leader of the Yearning For Zion Ranch says he doesn't understand how the government could sweep in and seize all their children based on an unproven allegation.
"This whole situation is abusive and out of hand," said Merril Jessop, a presiding elder in the FLDS Church. "The nearest thing I have ever seen comparable to this, even on the TV shows, is Nazi Germany."
"The only thing we ask of the governor and citizens of Texas," Jessop said, "is to give every man, woman and child due process and an attorney before they destroy their lives."
Jessop extended Texas' governor an invitation to come and see where these children are now and what conditions they are being placed under and then to come and see what kind of home they were taken from.
Jessop then went one further, inviting a fellow Texan, President George Bush, to come and see what the state is doing to its citizens. "What can be more important than the safety and protection of the children of America?" he asked.
'Children are our life'
Nancy was at the ranch when Texas rangers and other authorities began taking away the children. She said they knocked on the door of her home, walked in, separated the children, began interviewing "and didn't give us an explanation of what they were doing," she said.
She and other mothers declined to answer the officers' questions about which child belonged to who. "They told us we're going to take the children unless you tell us who are their mothers. But we still weren't saying anything," she recalled. Then she heard them call for backup.
Nancy, who was holding a baby in her arms, said one officer "poked their face into our face" and loudly said, "Give me that baby!"
"I said, 'I'm not going to do that,'" she said.
Although child welfare workers allowed most of the mothers to accompany their children to the temporary shelters, Nancy said she was not allowed to go. She stood helpless in the doorway and watched as her children, grandchildren and family members were loaded onto buses.
"The children would cry and hang onto their mothers," she said, trembling and wiping away tears.
"I get my strength from my Heavenly Father, but I can't believe something like this could even happen in America.... How could they take families and tear the children away? They're mentally abusing those children."
'Nowhere to go'
Monica, a mother of five children between the ages of 11 and 3, said she wants the world to know her children were happy and safe at home.
"We love our children. We love family life. Our children are our life. We do all we can to make sure they are cared for and have an education," she said. "They have manners and are trained well in loving and blessing others."
She was out of state for an appointment when she heard that her home was being raided. She quickly returned to the ranch but wasn't allowed inside. "I had nowhere to go," said Monica, 34.
Her sister is taking care of her 3-year-old at a makeshift shelter in San Angelo, about 50 miles away. A cousin is looking after the others. She tried to join the 139 mothers that were allowed to accompany their children, but the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services won't allow her inside.
"I have driven past the area where they are, and it's completely surrounded by police," she said. "I'm sure I could walk up to the door and get arrested ... and then what's going to happen to my children?"
When she was finally allowed to return to her home on the ranch, because of an ongoing search of the property by authorities, she said nothing was the same.
"Can you imagine what it's like to come back to nothing? Empty, ransacked homes, many things were taken, no pictures left."
She was able to find some pictures of when her children were younger, but all others were confiscated.
"I want the world to know that there is a nothing stronger than love and there is an inborn, God-given love between a mother and her children, and all a mother wants for her children is the very best" Monica said.
Despite her sorrow and frustration, she says she has faith that she will see her children again.
"I know I can't give up. I have to stay at it," she said. "I know with Heavenly Father's help I will be able to get them back."
'I couldn't believe it'
Shannon, a mother who was also off the ranch when officers served the search warrants, said she's also tried several times to see her three children but has been refused.
"Every day I've called them. They put me off saying they don't have the authority to let me in and there's no proof the children are mine. I tell them the children know who their mother is, and I know who my children are," she said.
The 30-year-old says she provided child welfare officials with identification and even birth certificates proving she is her children's mother. She says she and other mothers were told those documents could have been fake.
"I couldn't believe it. I wondered if we were in America or Russia," Shannon said. "I kept thinking, 'How can they do that?' They're breaking every rule. They're breaking every law."
Shannon has been told that her youngest child, who is just 2 years old, clings to her caretaker in the shelter. "She's sick right now and needs her mother."
Texas officials say they removed the children because they believe they're being abused or neglected. The raid was authorized by a judge after workers at a family domestic hotline reported receiving calls from a pregnant 16-year-old girl claiming she was being abused and was afraid to leave the ranch.
Shannon insists the children were not in any harmful environment at the ranch and were well-loved and cared for.
"We are not child abusers. We take very good care of them. These are innocent and sweet children," she said.
"The only abuse my children have ever had is since they've been taken away."
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Source: Deseret News
Addendum: An email from Deseré Howard explains why cell phones are being seized. The mothers are now isolated from communication with the outside, and have no access to legal representation. CPS will take advantage of their isolation to try to get concessions from them.
The families in Texas have been calling me all morning desperately seeking assistance.
They need support. The cps has cut off all communication with their families. They are telling them that if the don't consent to adoptions that they will lose their kids to strangers... mostly the same crap/threats that they have thrown at all of us.
Additionally, if the mothers step foot outside of the shelter, they cannot return to their children.
If we have any members from Texas, please call me.
PO Box 1381
Port Salerno, Florida
Florida Legal Resource Center
Source: CPSWatch email