FLDS for May 9th

Updates below, keep scrolling…

Interesting tale of the ‘Lost Boy.’ Some of them testify that they were plied with money and alcohol, even the under-age children. Several refused and went to the media or their parents to share their side.

One thing I think I am learning is that even in a group as homogeneous as the FLDS, there are individual differences, and we should not try the entire group for the sins of some. Here we have another side of the Lost Boys– this woman who runs an organization to help them says many leave by choice, some leave in much more painful circumstances:

Michelle Benward’s organization operates a home for Lost Boys, the FLDS teens who have left or been ”urged out” of the community.

She said that currently there are 14 teens in the home. Benward said that since July she has had direct contact with another 100 teens ages 14 to 24 from the FLDS community.

The No. 1 reason the teens give for leaving the community, Benward said, is that they did not want to live the religion. But others are kicked out of their homes for trivial reasons.

Among them: A boy whose parents left him in St. George with $5 in his pocket in December because he had gone to an unapproved movie.

Benward said many of the teens she is working with have been severely traumatized by events in Texas. She also said that most of the teens come from loving families whom they miss terribly.

She asked the media to avoid asking the teens about issues that are likely to retraumatize them, such as sexual abuse.

Here’s an article on the upcoming hearings and service plans:

In a typical service plan, there are recommendations and requirements that may need to be completed before a parent is reunited with their child.

“If, for example, we have a parent who has some substance abuse issues, the plan may be that the parent go into rehab,” Walker said. “If you’ve got issues with neglect, making sure the child is properly cared for, we’d look at parenting classes, homemaking classes. The plan has to address whatever changes are necessary to reduce the level of risk.” [so that means these plans will primarily address the speed at which CPS can get the kids out of foster care and send them home?]

Walker said she did not know what the service plans would address or recommend with the FLDS children and their parents. Texas CPS workers have claimed that the polygamist sect has a culture that lends itself to abuse, with girls being raised to become child brides.

The Texas child welfare system gives authorities up to a year to work with a family. If necessary, a judge can grant an extension. With 464 children in state protective custody, authorities concede that this case is not typical.

CPS said it is working with the Texas Education Agency to deal with the educational needs of the FLDS children.

Educational assessments will be conducted on each child and sent to the school district where the children have been placed. Texas’ educational authority will recommend the assessment be used on all FLDS children.

“It is anticipated that the children will continue their education on the campus of their foster placement,” CPS said in a statement. “There are no plans at this time for the children to attend classes on any public school campus.”

New numbers:

According to the May 2 census, there are 102 infants up to 2 years old. An estimated 99 children are ages 3 to 5; 131 children are 6 to 9 years old; 62 children are 10 to 13; and 42 are 14 to 17.

Texas authorities said there are 26 young women who the FLDS claim are adults, but the state believes are children. Two young men turned 18 while in foster care but have elected to stay with family members at a shelter, CPS said.


Those numbers almost certainly include those of 24 year old Louisa,
due this weekend to deliver her third child.

Christine Brown and others from polygamous communities held a conference to educate the public on polygamous groups:

She commented on the power of the press and how when interviewing those who practice plural marriage reporters should be fair in representing the people’s beliefs and lives.
Reporter Ben Winslow, who covers polygamy for the Deseret Morning News and sat on the news media panel, said he strives for fairness, but is often frustrated in getting a balanced story by the reticence of most polygamists to speak.
“In my experience the biggest frustration is people not talking,” said Winslow. “Its hard to demonize you if you’re talking to us . . . No comment is a comment.”
Mike Watkiss, a Phoenix television reporter who has aggressively been pursuing the polygamy story for more than a decade, described the residents of the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., as decent people.
“Its a society trademark that they are peaceful,” said Watkiss, adding he is not interested in grilling children or “good” people. He said he wants to go after the perpetrators of arranged marriages, sex abuse and welfare fraud.
“As long as those guys are around, I’m going to be in your face,” he said.

AP has looked at the Bishop’s Records and made me wonder if we’re using the same base number system:

The bishop’s records offer a peek into an intricate culture in which men related to the sect’s prophet, Warren Jeffs, enjoyed favored-husband status in the distribution of wives and all young women were married by 24.

An Associated Press analysis of the records, which authorities seized in a raid last month, show that by the time a girl reached 16, she was more likely to be married than to live as a child in her father’s household. The same was not true for boys.
The bishop’s records, released by court officials last week, include 37 families totaling 507 individuals. At the time the lists were written from March through August of 2007, most of the people were living at the YFZ Ranch, though others were in homes along the Utah-Arizona line.The husbands and wives were married in the FLDS, and none is believed to hold Texas marriage licenses.

Of the 19 youths listed as being 16 or 17, none of the boys are husbands, while nine of the girls are listed as wives. Only one 17-year-old girl remained unmarried.

Under Texas law, children under the age of 17 generally cannot consent to sex with an adult.

I don’t know where they’re coming up with nine under-aged girls. And while it may be true that only one 17 y.o. remained unmarried, they have to ignore some older unmarried girls to make that figure say what they want it to say. I am also not sure why it’s earthshattering news that in a culture that reverts back to the 19th century, girls get married younger than boys. IN fact, that tends to be true in cultures that don’t revert to the 19th century.
Utah has offered to help with those members who are Utah state residents (I can imagine that Utah leadership doesn’t appreciate Texas turning up its nose at Utah I.D.):

Utah authorities will look into claims by members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church that their children were wrongfully taken in a Texas raid of the church’s ranch there in April — as long as the members are from Utah.


Jessop said he’s working on a complete list [of Utah residents] to provide to the state.

“I have been in communication with the governor’s office, and we are preparing a list of Utah residents who are caught up in this thing,” said Jessop. “So far, I know of at least three families who brought their children (to Texas) and were visiting grandparents and got their children taken away.”


Utah AG Shurtleff reassures polygamous families
that he is not going to duplicate the Texas raid in Utah.
———————–
UPDATES:

About the upcoming hearings
, which will not permit parents to present their side of the issue or in any way prove their innocence (and CPS notoriously and infamously uses a refusal to admit guilt as proof that the parent is unfit rather than considering the possibility that a parent might refuse to admit guilt because the parent is innocent):
Five judges will be presiding over 200 cases, hearing 10-12 a day, and legal eagles say these hearings will be ‘anticlimactic:’

“There won’t be any” significant decisions, said local family law attorney Tom Goff, who is serving as a lawyer for two of the 464 children in the case. “That doesn’t happen.”

Instead, caseworkers for the state’s Child Protective Services agency will present service plans for parents of each of the removed children, spelling out what they must do to regain their children. CPS has begun working with attorneys and parents to develop those plans, said spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner.

“We try to develop what we all believe are the best results to have in each particular situation,” Meisner said. “This will assure that we have a contract with us and the parents.”

Questions remain, however, about the feasibility of creating 464 service plans in preparation for 200 or more hearings – many of which involve unknown parents and children with uncertain names and ages.

Tom Goff, lawyer for two of the children, says CPS still doesn’t have its act together:

“The problem now is, we have no contact person at CPS” if paperwork is incorrect or profiles the wrong child, Goff said. “When these orders are wrong, have varying information, we have no contact to go to. They’re not putting the birthdates on the service plans. You’re sent an order, and you’re not sure if it’s your child.”

Some attorneys are still unhappy that families did not get individual hearings to address custody. Parents lost custody of their children without ever getting an opportunity to present the judge with evidence of their actual beliefs- some of them never even got to speak to the attorneys before the hearing, and some of them, both adults and children, weren’t even represented on CPS’ filings at all because CPS didn’t have an accurate count of adults or children.

The hearings later this month, although split among sibling groups, will not be satisfactory, said Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, whose attorneys are representing many of the children.

“We’ve been pushing for individual hearings that address the issue of custody,” and these hearings will not do that, Martinez said. “In no way are we happy about the situation.”

The group has asked the 3rd Court of Appeals to review the process to date and order Walther to schedule individual custody hearings for the children. CPS’ response was due by the end of the day Thursday, Martinez said.

———
Judge Woodward, who will be one of the presiding judges, confirms his intentions to rubber stamp the CPS decisions. This is standard procedure:

The status hearings, required by law to be held before June 5 – the 60th day after 463 children were removed from the YFZ Ranch northeast of Eldorado – are usually perfunctory. Typically, they consist of little more than the state’s Child Protective Services agency presenting a proposed plan the parents of removed children would be required to follow to win their children back and any objections from the parents’ attorneys.

Although the presiding judge has discretion to do as he or she sees fit, Woodward said, status hearings do not generally result in the return of any children to their parents.

“Typically, that’s not what these hearings are about,” he said.

********

Wow. This is incredibly misleading:

“Of the 19 youths listed as being 16 or 17, none of the boys are husbands, while nine of the girls are listed as wives. Only one 17-year-old girl remained unmarried.”

Notice how carefully the reporter has picked the perimeters in order to make his point- only looking at 16 and 17 year olds first (for both genders), but then only looking at 17 year olds for the girls and ignoring girls 16 or over 17.

In fact the number of unmarried girls listed as still living in their father’s homes:
16 years old- 3
17 years old-1
18 years old- 2
23 years old-1

So technically, it’s true that only one 17 year old girl is listed as unmarried, but there are three girls older than her who also are listed as unmarried, and three girls 16 years old (*please* check my counting). It’s also true that there simply weren’t very many teenagers of any age. The vast majority of the kids are 11 and under- these are mostly young families.

I think the reporter stopped counting when he got to the page of buildings and who lived there, but there are at least two more pages of names and ages after that.

I also count these 16 y.o. brides (I may have missed one, it’s tedious reading):
Nephi Jeffs 38
Elizabeth Jessop 16

Lehi Alred 28
Rachel Alred 16

Abram Jeffs 35
Suzanne Jeffs 16

Leroy J. Steed 40
Elizabeth Jessop, 16

Possibly:
24 year old Joseph’s 18 year old wife Naomi who had a 7 month old in March of ’07. Assuming that child is hers (there’s also a 10 month old, and an older wife), is full term, and she wasn’t 18 years and 11 months at the time this form was filled out, she might have been under-aged at the time of conception.

Luke is 19 and married to 16 year old Sarah.
Keith is 22 and his wife is 16

I am not finding 9 under-aged marriages. I didn’t count the 17 year olds because I understand that in Texas they can legally marry without parental permission.

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    The Salt Lake Tribune has the state’s response to the appeal filed by TRLA. Apparently, the state claims the mothers have “no standing” in the case unless they “unequivocally identify their children.” What in HADES was all the DNA testing about then if not “unequivocally” identifying their children??

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