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New FLDS Allegations
May 1, 2008 permalink
Our April 24 report titled More of FLDS Case is Fake showed that the original reasons for picking up the children were false, and included the statement: Don't expect child protectors to give up — they will come up with new reasons to keep the kids.
Here it is: sexual abuse. Since sex occurs in private and family court records are secret, this is a wild card that can be used to take kids from their parents in just about any situation. Habitually by the time the sexual abuse charges are dismissed, the children are irreversibly adopted. Just to be sure, they have thrown in broken bones as well. Do you remember the pictures of kids on stretchers? We don't.
Friday, May 2, 2008, Posted on Thu, May. 01, 2008
Official: Boys in polygamist sect might be sex-abuse victims
By JOHN MORITZ, Star-Telegram Staff Writer
AUSTIN -- The chief of Texas Child Protective Services told a legislative panel Wednesday that at least 41 of the youngsters seized last month from the polygamist camp near San Angelo have suffered broken bones and that evidence gathered by investigators suggests that some of the young boys now in state custody had been victims of sexual abuse.
The revelations from Carey Cockerell, commissioner of the agency that provides emergency care for endangered youngsters, was presented to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with little or no elaboration because lawmakers had agreed to withhold their questions so as not to jeopardize the investigation into allegations of widespread abuse at the camp.
"This is the largest removal of children in Texas history by Child Protective Services," Cockerell told the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services in his first public appearance since more than 463 children were removed by the state from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado.
The count of children in state custody from the breakaway Mormon sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints reached 464 on Tuesday when a teenage girl gave birth in a San Marcos hospital.
Rod Parker, a spokesman for the sect, dismissed Cockerell's testimony as "a deliberate effort to mislead the public."
Parker told The Associated Press that, although the ranch has a small medical facility, any broken bones would have been treated away from the ranch. He noted that doctors are required to report suspected abuse. Parker said state officials were "trying to politically inoculate themselves from the consequences of this horrible tragedy."
Cockerell, who was director of Tarrant County Juvenile Services for 20 years before taking over CPS in January 2005, said that since the state took custody of the children, many of whom had children of their own or were pregnant, officials have had trouble determining their parentage. Court-ordered DNA testing is being used in that effort.
But Cockerell told the committee, chaired by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, that the younger children and those who might be mothers of those children have systematically attempted to mislead investigators and caregivers.
Among the concerns cited by Cockerell were:
Plastic wrist bracelets issued by the state to help keep track of children's identities were sometimes tampered with or removed.
Some women refused to allow children to undergo basic health screening.
Many teenage girls declined to take pregnancy tests.
In some cases in which children attempted to talk with investigators, women and older children forbade them to speak or coached them on what to say.
According to an update posted Wednesday on the state's protective services department Web site, all of the children taken from the compound have been placed in residential foster care facilities. Among them are 27 girls in who have told officials they are 14 to 17 years old and 26 other girls who have given conflicting information about their ages, sometimes claiming to be adults and other times claiming to be minors.
Of the 53 girls, at least 30 have children, are pregnant, or both. Six of the girls have two children, and two have three children, according to the update
The report that 41 youngsters had suffered broken bones before entering state custody came from physical examinations and interviews, but officials were reluctant to flatly assert abuse as the cause.
"We do not have X-rays or complete medical information on many children, so it is too early to draw any conclusions based on this information," the report said. "But it is cause for concern and something we'll continue to examine."
Allegations that boys had been sexually abused came from "interviews with the children and journal entries found at the ranch," the update said.
Cockerell told the panel that officials were attempting to respect the religious and cultural traditions of the youngsters in custody. He said that minors who have children are not being separated from them. Adult women with infants under 12 months are being allowed to remain with their babies, he said.
Child Protective Services is beefing up its caseworker staff to handle the influx of children from the compound as well as its legal staff to handle the ongoing challenge by the sect for the long-term custody of the children, Cockerell said.
Cockerell attempted to assure the panel that they have received top-flight care while in state custody. Many have been reassigned to licensed foster-care facilities.He said the children have been given ample facilities for recreation, clothing and food that conform with their religious beliefs, and access to some educational materials. Cockerell complimented the sensitivity of officials who have been assigned to the case.
"It was interesting to see DPS troopers in uniform playing kickball and pitch with these children," he said.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.
Source: Ft Worth Star-Telegram