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Canadian Children Held Captive in Texas
June 4, 2008 permalink
A few of the children seized in the FLDS raid in Texas were Canadians. According to the judge's order (pdf), they cannot leave Texas, and so cannot rejoin their parents.
Texas order slows B.C. family's reunion
WENDY STUECK, From Wednesday's Globe and Mail, June 4, 2008 at 6:03 AM EDT
VANCOUVER — A Texas court order paving the way for hundreds of children to be reunited with their parents could hamper the reunion of a British Columbia girl with her family, says a lawyer representing the girl's parents.
The girl, whose parents live in Bountiful was caught up in an April police raid of the Yearning for Zion compound in Texas.
"Her parents want her to come back, we're just seeing if we can get her released," Texas lawyer Stephanie Goodman said Monday in a telephone interview. "We're working on it."
"We're just hoping that the fact that she is from Canada doesn't work against her. Because one of the stipulations [of the court order] is that you can't leave the state of Texas."
The Texas ranch and Bountiful are both home to members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Texas ranch was pushed into the spotlight by the April raid, in which more than 400 children were taken into protective custody and placed in foster homes throughout the state.
In B.C., Bountiful has been a headache for lawmakers for decades because of uncertainty over whether prosecution of polygamy - which is illegal in Canada - would stand up to a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On Monday, B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal named a special prosecutor to assess whether charges should be laid against Bountiful residents in relation to an RCMP investigation that concluded in 2006.
Two previous legal opinions sought by the province did not recommend charges. Mr. Oppal, however, insists a valid criminal law should be enforced.
The Texas raid was launched after calls to a domestic abuse hot line, from someone claiming to be a girl at the ranch, and that her much-older husband was abusing her. The source of those calls is being investigated.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled last week the removal of the children was not warranted. A subsequent court order cleared the way for the children to be returned to their parents.
Child protection authorities in Texas continue to investigate allegations of abuse at the ranch, including reports of pre-teen girls being involved in "spiritual marriages" with much older men, and boys being groomed as perpetrators.
"We continue to have concerns, as we have since April 3, and that's why our investigation is ongoing," Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said yesterday.
"We want to make sure the environment they are returning to is a safe environment and that they will be protected from abuse and neglect."
The Canadian girl had been in Texas for about two weeks before the raid, Ms. Goodman said. If an agreement cannot be reached with officials, the parents will likely seek a court order to allow the girl to return to Canada, she said.
Winston Blackmore, a religious leader at Bountiful, yesterday accused the province's attorney-general of religious persecution.
In an e-mail, Mr. Blackmore said Mr. Oppal wants to force the Liberal government to prosecute citizens it has an obligation to serve and protect. About 800 people live in Bountiful.
Politicians and law enforcement officials on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border have called for crackdown on alleged trafficking of young women across the border and between various FLDS communities.
With a report from The Canadian Press
Source: The Globe and Mail