April 17th, 2008
08:19 PM ET

Dispatch from the FLDS court hearing

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/17/art.polygamy1.jpg%5D

Ismael Estrada
CNN supervising Producer

3:08 pm CT

Testimony of Angie Voss, supervisor for investigation for CPS, been a supervisor for 6 years, and investigator before that.

The department received a report on March 29th and 11:32 pm. Allegations of a 16 year old girl of abuse she had received at the YFZ ranch.

Also the concern that there were other girls living at the ranch where this young lady was believed to be living...100 to 150 other girls.

Initially 12 case workers assigned, they needed more. She was there to coordinate and supervise the investigation.

She arrived at the ranch gates with a team at 9pm on Thursday the 3rd. Law enforcement had arrived first. There were Schleicher County Cops, and Texas Rangers...

They spoke with 2 gentlemen from the ranch, who wanted to know why they were there. She told them they were investigating a report. Cops had already told the members of the ranch.

Law enforcement asked to speak with Sarah, the name of the woman who had called in the complaint. The men said there were no Sarahs there at all.

Voss said the team was permitted in, went to the school house, after going past the guard tower. There were at least 2 men in the guard tower. She saw them looking down on them, and followed law enforcement to the school house. Once inside, the team was placed on the main level where there was a small waiting area.

Merril Jessop instructed members to open the doors so they could interview some of the girls. Five investigators were allowed in and used classrooms to interview the girls. The men went to get the girls. She asked to get all girls 17 years and younger for interviews.

Girls arrived in 10 or 15 minutes. That part of the investigative process is to assess the safety of all the children. They saw 20 women.

There were men from the ranch standing around, walking outside, 2 in the stairwell. Several in the waiting area. They were polite and respectful, but she was concerned. It was a scary and intimidating environment. She was afraid. She saw men all over. It felt like the school house was surrounded.

It was just her and her 4 investigators. There were no women around.

When the women first walked in, they were quiet. Men were walking in with them. There were 15 women. They were placed in the classrooms to interview 5 at a time.

All she knew was the Sarah who called in the allegations said she was 5”4, with blond hair, 16 years old, with a baby.

Of the 15 women, 5 said their names were Sarah.

Some of the women said they knew the Sarah they were looking for, said she was 16 and had a baby. They didn’t know where she was now.

Then, girls said they didn’t know their birth dates.

Filed under: FLDS court hearing • Ismael Estrada • Polygamy
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Joe Johnson

    I knew the real truth would begin to come out, these people have done nothing. The calls were a hoax, someone has been arrested for making those calls, the allledged purportrator has been proven incapable of even being in the state at the time of the allegation and now we find out the governent was shoveling money to Warren Jeffs for years.

    now watch how fast federal forces will rush in and declare these people rapists and make them all pay by taking their children. Someone in the government didn’t get their kickback!

    As CNN reported today, the fact is:
    The U.S. government paid more than $1.7 million in defense contracts over the last decade to companies owned by leaders of Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect. The contracts, for airplane parts for the Air Force, continued even while Jeffs was on the FBI’s “Most-Wanted List.” The Pentagon stands by the deals

    April 18, 2008 at 6:43 pm |
  2. Gwen

    The difference between Muslim countries and this instance is that Muslim countries are not breaking the law – FLDS is. In Saudi Arabia it is legal to have multiple wives. It is also illegal for someone under the age of 16 to have sexual intercourse. This has nothing to do with religion but with enforcing U.S. law.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  3. Cindy GA

    If I remember, a woman can be married to the Church and God (Spiritually). But if she is married to a man (husband), it has to be offical (legal) by law and recognized by the Church to be a valid marriage. If this is so, then all of these people have commited Adultery in the eyes of the Church and God. Couldn't these adults be prosecuted for twisting the standard recognition of the meaning of what a "Marriage" is? This issue should be considered by the courts to help these children. Cindy GA

    April 18, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Jamie

    These children were not taken because of the FLDS religous belief of polygamy. They were taken because there were allegations, apparantly substantiated in some way, of abuse. In any state in this country, it is against the law for a minor to wed, or be intimate with, a man or woman that is not a minor if the age difference is over two years. If my math is correct, the age difference between 50 and 16 IS more than 2 years and is sexual abuse by definition.

    You also must remember that the media does not always report things fairly and evenly. It seems as though this story has been slanted from the beginning, as with every story that involves CPS. No one ever has anything good to say about CPS and these people work for minimal salaries, long hours, a tough job all around and get no credit whatsoever for the sacrifices that they have to make with their own families to make sure that other people's children are safe.

    April 18, 2008 at 7:00 am |
  5. Helen

    I agree with Monty. What is up with the double standard? American liberals are up in arms when Mormons practice polygamy. But Muslims can practice polygamy and MUCH MUCH worse...and liberals defend them to the death.Let us at least be consistent, marxist American media.

    April 18, 2008 at 1:13 am |
  6. Monty Ammari

    We should examin polygamists who we "U.S.A" consider as good allies all over the middeleast. the majority of islamic countries are ruled by polygamists, and yet we have full relationships.

    When you ask about polygamy in Islam, the answer is sure to be due to religon, but we accept it and consider it OK, but when Americans do it we go in with arms and take the childern in massive sweep.

    I do NOT agree with their belives and treadtions (both religons) but we should use same mesuring stick.

    Suadi Arabia, as we know it today, is the result of a poloygamist (King Saud) hence, Saudi Arabia.

    April 17, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  7. Slater

    Can you see where they are laying the foundation that this girl has to be found or the case is dismissed? In case you missed it, that is what they are doing.

    It is a tried and true case management process called merit in law supported by due process (5th Amendment, for those of you who are wondering).

    Chances are the judge issued an order to find the girl who called so that they have their probable cause supported by due process.

    April 17, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    So much they don't know – I am concerned about the Sarah with the baby that these girls said they knew – if she made the phone call that gave child and family services the impetus for this raid, what kind of danger is she in now? Is there a search going on for her? I have watched the coverage of this story from the beginning and I feel so sorry for the children; and I marvel that the mothers don't see anything wrong with their lifestyle and how any of them could allow their young teenage daughters to marry a man that is more than double their age.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 17, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  9. shamelessreading

    "The men said there were no sarah’s there at all."

    Really? In a large, American, bible based community, with a population that skews female (heavily) not a *single* person named Sarah in the whole place? There's lying, and then there's not even trying to sound like you're not lying.

    April 17, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  10. Karen Gavitt

    The court in Texas is stymied as to what to do with these kids from FLDS saying that it would be too traumatic to throw these kids into todays society by way of foster homes ect. HERE IS AN IDEA...We live in rural missouri...we have a lot of Amish and Menonite communities..They are not secretive..only closed communities as far as their belief goes..but they are still a part of open communities and acitvities. They are very "Christian related" with a code of ethics that does not include the secular behavior that our world seems to accept. Would this be a wonderful transition for these kids and mothers if it could be arrainged to have the menonites or Amish Foster care them for a while? I DONT KNOW HOW TO CONTACT THE COURT WITH THIS IDEA...HOW ABOUT YOU????? Thanks. Karen

    April 17, 2008 at 8:59 pm |