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Eldorado Raid Leader Quits

June 28, 2008 permalink

Carey Cockerell, the commissioner of the Texas department responsible for the seizure of hundreds of children from the FLDS ranch in Eldorado Texas, has sidestepped responsibility for answering questions before the legislature by resigning his post. The news reports the unbelievable statement: "There is no connection between his retirement and Eldorado".



State overseer of child protection agency retiring

Carey Cockerell, commissioner over department that seized hundreds of children from Eldorado ranch, to leave Aug. 31.

The commissioner who oversaw the controversial removal of more than 400 children from an Eldorado ranch owned by a polygamous sect will retire Aug. 31, he announced Friday.

Carey Cockerell, 61, of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, told his staff in a memo that he has been considering retirement since late last year.

Carey Cockerell
Carey Cockerell

"I am about to become a grandfather for the first time and I am ready to spend some quality time with my family after a career that has spanned four decades," wrote Cockerell, whose agency oversees Child Protective Services.

By leaving this summer, Cockerell will avoid facing state lawmakers during the legislative session that begins in January.

Lawmakers will have "all eyes on Child Protective Services" because of Eldorado, said state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, a member of a Texas House committee that monitors CPS.

Department spokesman Patrick Crimmins said, "There is no connection between his retirement and Eldorado."

Cockerell, a former director of juvenile services for Tarrant County, took the helm at the department in 2005. That was just months after state reports found that CPS failed to provide needed services for children living in potentially dangerous situations and that Adult Protective Services caseworkers were not adequately trained.

"At a time when there were reports of cases being closed too quickly and children and the elderly being left in dangerous conditions, Carey helped our state refocus protective services to its vital mission — protecting Texas' most vulnerable," Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.

Cockerell oversaw major changes at CPS, including a $248 million effort that lawmakers ordered in 2005 to add caseworkers and improve training and technology.

"Carey took on one of the most difficult jobs in state government and achieved significant improvements in just a few short years," Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins said.

Lately, the agency has been in the national spotlight for something that Cockerell's 467-word memo didn't mention: seizing the children from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April and placing them in foster care around the state.

In a rebuke to CPS, which said its investigators discovered a pattern of teenage sexual abuse, the Texas Supreme Court ordered the state to return the children to their parents.

"Under the guise of protecting children, (CPS has) done a great injury to these children," said Rod Parker, a spokesman for the sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Through Crimmins, Cockerell has declined several interview requests from the American-Statesman, including one Friday.

His only public comments on Eldorado came at a state Senate hearing during which senators were not allowed to ask questions.

Cockerell "may simply be worn out from being in the hot seat all the time," Naishtat said.; 445-3548

Source: Austin American-Statesman