April 17th, 2008
09:22 PM ET

Another dispatch from the FLDS hearing today

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/17/art.polygamy2.jpg%5D

Ismael Estrada
CNN Supervising Producer

5:46p CT

More testimony from Angie Voss, Supervisor for investigation for Child Protection Services:

She began to see a pattern, she began to note that there were mothers who were 16 and they were married and called each other sister wives. 

Many of the girls talked, said that if the prophet wanted them to marry, then they were supposed to do that. 

She was finding the girls would switch their names, wouldn’t give the full names, none of them knew their date of birth.

In the classrooms, she saw attendance logs.  She did not know she was only in the boys' classrooms.  Merril Jessop showed them downstairs to where the girls' classroom was. 

She wanted to see the 10th grade girl classrooms.  None of the 10th grade classrooms had attendance logs.  She asked Merril where the attendance logs were, similar to the ones found in the boys classrooms. 

In the girls' classrooms, in the desks they found their journals.  She reviewed some.   Olive told her she wanted to "plead the 5th."

The demeanor she observed from the girls was very closed off, like they didn't want to answer that question. 

Some would say who the father of the house was.  But the girls did not know how to answer if that was the “biological father."  They don’t speak in those terms. 

She says she reached a brick wall. The girls would talk about their activities, their beliefs, their prophet, but when it came to specifics about their families, they couldn't answer. 

There were families with lots of wives and all the children called them all their mother. 

After the first round of interviews, she thought there were more girls.  The girls would talk of other girls that they hadn’t met inside their homes. 

She asked the state ranger to ask Merril about the other girls.  Merril advised he would bring four of them, but didn't.  They did bring in 15 more, but only one of them was on the list they requested. 

The girls were reporting that there is no age too young to be spiritually united.  There were girls who seemed to be very pregnant.  There were some Sarah’s on the ranch - the name of the young woman who had called authorities saying she feared abuse.

Some said Sarah did exist that she was seen on Sunday in the garden.  But no one was ever able to point out the Sarah she was looking for. 

Filed under: FLDS court hearing • Ismael Estrada • Polygamy
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Adrienne

    The scariest thing is that the people seem to know who the caller was, and now she has disappeared. So tragic – who knows where she is or what became of her. And frankly, it will be terrible for other women and girls trying to escape these communities if they know that they won't be found, they won't be protected, and they won't get away.


    April 18, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  2. Donald

    We are so naive in this country. Less than 100 years ago, it was the NORM for girls 13 and 14 years old to marry and many times to much older men, especially in rural agricultural communities.

    And we Love to Import and Export to Countries all around the world that EMBRACE Polygamy as not just acceptable but the NORM. I dont see ANYONE criticizing Suadi Arabian leaders for practicing polygamy!

    April 18, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  3. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    They are modern day Moav and Benammi.

    The story of Sodom and Gamora being destroyed, and how Lot and his daughters were the only ones to leave.

    They had children with their father and one was named Moav the other was Ben-ammi(ammon).

    Some of these girls are Moav and ben-ammi....from their father.

    That is why they has genetic abnormalities.

    Not Good.

    13 is too young to be a mom or wife.

    April 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm |
  4. Melodie Moshure

    I would suggest that the true Mormon Church step up and offer to foster these children.
    The children could then learn what their religion is supposed to be in a caring and monogamous enviroinment.

    April 18, 2008 at 12:12 pm |
  5. toni Burrer

    Mother of all? It sounds like these kids are going have a lot of mothers in the foster care system! Its seems to me that do gooders make more messes then solve problems! Does anyone really have a plan that is going to work for the duration of over four hundred children till a legal age of eighteen and beyond? When this story and conflict ends on the air way in eighteen months ,you will still have communities such as the one in Texas praticing their religion and there twisted ways of reproduction to further carry on there culture! So really what will be solved when its said and done? Nothing but hurt and pain for all! Sounds like American politics at it best! More messes!

    April 18, 2008 at 12:07 pm |
  6. Abe

    I was raised in a cult in the COG Children of God, and these women are completely brainwashed. I was brainwashed to think I wasn't brainwashed! No Birthdays for Children? What the court needs to realize here is the exteme psychological abuse this cult imposes on it's younger generation. This cult has long dumped it's unwanted boys on city streets of Arizona and Utah to fall victim to crime and vice, all while their sisters get married to older men (geezers) this is really horrible. I am glad the State of Texas finally has the guts to do something about it where Arizona and Utah has just decided to ignore it for so long!

    April 18, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  7. Gauri Chitale

    What fascinates me the most in this whole Polygamy Group episode is that how come none of the Male folks from that community not seen anywhere ?? .....All the time we are seeing the women who are crying and worrying for their daughters , where are their husbands ? what are they doing about it ?? this is the most shocking thing

    and what about their Sons ?? nobody talks about them.

    This is a free society and everyone is free to practise his or her religion but there has to be a common law and every citizen and persons staying here in this country must abide by it ...otherwise the courts must step in .

    Thats what i wanted to share ...thankx .

    April 18, 2008 at 10:01 am |
  8. sz

    Please let this be the begining of the end of cults in America. America was founded on Freedom, the women and children in the FLDS are not free! Texas is my new favorite state in America, please don't screw it up, don't let these children down! Don't let America down! Save these children and prosecute the leaders of the YFZ ranch. Then move on to Arizona, Utah, and everywhere else cults and brainwashing and abusing women and children.

    April 18, 2008 at 7:32 am |
  9. Robert Rothemich

    Should this just be let up to local Texas authorities? Who are they consulting with? What would Jimmy Carter do in a case like this?

    April 18, 2008 at 3:41 am |
  10. LORI

    This whole story saddens me for these children who have been raised in this "cult like" atmosphere. These women have probably grown up in this atmosphere since their childhoods and know no other world. The cycle of abuse...both mental,verbal and physical must stop now. Especially for these children...male and female. The "father" or prophet as he is called should be prosecuted. And the younger boys.....well that it much more difficult. They have been forced to believe or do something that is probably uncomfortable for them.. What a sad situation. And if we know these compounds exist...why do the authorities just overlook them!!!

    April 18, 2008 at 2:50 am |
  11. lamont holliman

    how is it that we live in a free country when the government still dictates what people do in their own home's? if the the law can take a whole comunity and abduct all the children just to see if there was a crime committed with no proof.i feel they can do this type of abduction to white people then think of what they might do to minority's like blacks or latino's?? they would just come in and say you all live in a drug infested, gangrelated comunity and we have to see if these children are ok and maybe we will give them back. not all the people in the comunity would be involed in crimes but you would take them all. just like these folks not all those people in that comunity hAVE comitted a crime maybe a few and those people should be punished but if a crime was committed you person responsible would have got away by now while they law has the kids.

    April 18, 2008 at 1:06 am |
  12. teresa

    It hurts to see children separated from their parents. I am having a difficult time seeing how young ladies being taught that having children is a beautiful act of being a woman. This is abuse. I agree with this teaching.. I'm a christian who believes that children are a gift from God. Were the children starving? I heard they didn't have toys.?When I grew up my parents didn't have alot of money but we made our kites, made snow forts,climbed trees, used pans for drums. Reports were that the children played well together. The mothers cleaned the place where they were staying. Feed the children the way everyone should be eating. Good skin color, I hope texas has a better case than what I'm hearing.

    April 18, 2008 at 12:37 am |
  13. Chris

    The idea that even Some of these children should go back to the compound with their 'mothers' is like giving up and sending them All back! Are people actually buying into the notion that "it's not my child who is 'marrying' young, it has to be that other mother's child?" This is a systematic, cult-like cancer. They shut the rest of society totally out and call us "evil" and suddenly the media is welcome to see their little p.j.'s and the gathering of women 'sobbing' while shedding no tears; doubling as mouth pieces (& where are the Men anyway?) with well-rehearsed speeches about religious prosecution and all the rights they have. Now, it's obvious these women are also scared & victims of this insanity as well, which is another reason these children must not go back. The rights of the the smallest and most fragile of this physical & sexual molestation HAS GOT TO BE THE PRIORITY.

    April 17, 2008 at 11:29 pm |
  14. mitchell martin

    i guess, when this nation,is finished finding these children,new homes,they can begin the long arduous process of removing all of the catholic children,from their homes,parents,communities and beliefs,too.perhaps there is somewhat of a double-standard here.maybe the federal government should step in,and appoint a 'mediator',to work out a compromise,with this 'religious' group,that will allow them to practice their faith, with protections for the minors,and monitors to oversee it.i see nothing wrong with spiritual marriages,as long as it doesn't include physical sexual contact,between adults and minors.marry all the women you want,but if they ever divorce you,you'll be forever in debt,with alimony and child support.my only concern is our constitutional rights of freedom of religion,and protection of our children.i'm not sure if state care,or foster care,is less traumatic than being torn from their mothers,who may be victims of the men,as well.maybe the state should have taken all of the men into custody,instead of the children.

    April 17, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  15. Malissa Luke-Scaff

    A question to the FLDS Polygamy Children ordeal,
    Does anyone know if the mainstream LDS church has stepped forward to offer foster care for these FLDS children? Although the modern LDS Church does not practice or teach many of the FLDS beliefs they are for the most part in (from my understanding) the same baseline religion, one rooted in a strong family connection and devotion to God and there church. Could this be the best way to help transitions these children to a more normal life if they become wards of the state?.
    My next question is if the LDS Church hasn’t offered to help to the state of Texas will they, and will Texas CPS consider accepting there help?

    April 17, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  16. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Listen, please listen....
    prosecute the polygamy!!!
    It 's sort of like possession of dynamite has been overlooked by the authorities for all these years. Even setting it off. Now they are going to go ahead where the blasts caused some harm.
    Get rid of the dynamite, get rid of polygamy!
    The state is just as guilty for those young girls being subjected to old men because the state has looked away.

    April 17, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  17. M Landolphe D'Aquin-Burglass MD ThD

    I am disappointed in your coverage of this situation. AC 360 is looking as if it might be more at home on Fox News than on CNN. Surprisingly, Larry Kings segments have been far better focused, exploratory, and balanced.

    Not typical of you, Andeson!

    April 17, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  18. Beverly

    Before a child is given back, the woman must move from the compound, receive on-going counseling, and establish a new residence hopefully with the help of the state, otherwise the children should not be given back.

    The woman dress like the muslim women in the countries where the men control the women. These men are engaging in terrible sexual abuse of these women, but they make the women cover their bodies from head to toe, is that because of bruises or is that to cover their sins, what is it?

    April 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  19. Julee Wilets

    I practiced as a County Attorney in Arapahoe County, Colorado. My job was to present the state's case in Child Abuse and Neglect cases. The hearing that is being conducted at this time is a Detention Hearing (they might have a different name of it in Texas) The state must show why the children need to remain in their custody pending further investigation and a full hearing. All the state has to show is that there is the potential for child abuse and/or neglect and one of the proofs is a dangerous environment. This will be sufficient until full hearings can be held. These type of cases are routine and happen daily in our county courts. What's unusual here are the numbers, not the circumstances.

    And of course the religion aspect and the media coverage....
    Remember the laws are there for the protection of the children and the parents in these cases always feel that they are being treated unjustly. But children must be protected, that's our job as members of our society.

    April 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  20. Ruth

    I'm not really sure if it is a better idea to foster the children out or not? There are abuse problems in that area as well. I think that these Women need major counselling. I don't see why they can't have their children returned under certain conditions?

    April 17, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  21. Steve

    Everything is so mechanical, rehearsed and stagged. Even the walk through they showed on Larry King, I've seen more character and hominess in military barracks. Where are the toys??? No toys in the rooms or in the yards. Where are the family pictures? The only pictures were of Warren Jeffs. It is not the family or the kids that are most important to these people, it is the "cause". This is the definition of a cult. Strict mind control. When they talk it is more of a sermon than someone expressing personal feelings. Why, because they are taught that person thoughts, feelings, and possessions are bad.

    April 17, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  22. Marisol - Anderson's Fan

    What can we do to help out. Not just with the kids involved in the compound in Texas, but with the whole picture? Is there some place to volunteer? Contribute money? Would help from us even be wanted, or would be in the way?

    As much as I love children, seeing these stories, and reading Ms Jessop's book "Escape" just infuriates me.

    April 17, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  23. Esin Efe

    I just saw a laptop in one of the rooms on the tour of the house. That struck me weird considering they don't have a television in their living room and that one of the mothers claimed that her children had not seen a firearm until they were taken away...

    April 17, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  24. Elise

    Why didn't the state take into custody the perpetrators instead of the kids?

    April 17, 2008 at 10:08 pm |
  25. Ellen Rump

    I understand that it is illegal for underaged girls to be married and that seems to be the focus of the investigation. I live in Ontario, Canada and our Provincial School Board tests all children in the province (even home schooled children) periodically to see if they are meeting provincial standards. Wouldn't the lack of a proper education be against the law in Texas?

    April 17, 2008 at 10:05 pm |
  26. Annie Kate

    What a tragic mess – the children should have at least known which of the sister wives was their biological mother. I can't understand why anyone would want to live this way; and these children if returned to the FLDS will never have a chance to choose a different life style because they won't know one exists. I hope Texas can win this case and place these children in homes where they will be exposed to a more normal lifestyle.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 17, 2008 at 10:04 pm |
  27. EVA

    Can you imagine being Gay in that community? I guess they have a cure for that to.

    April 17, 2008 at 10:04 pm |
  28. Candice

    I’m writing to express my frustration about how Charlie Gibson moderated last night’s debate. It's one thing for moderators to insist that candidates answer the questions, but quite another for moderators to actually debate the candidates! And to do so for one candidate but not the other. Charlie Gibson not only pressed Obama for further clarification, but actually argued against him! In response to Obama’s remarks on taxes, Gibson actually said “there’s a heck of a lot of people between $97,000 and $200,000 and $250,000. If you raise the payroll tax that’s going to raise taxes on them.” Totally and completely inappropriate. Gibson did the same thing, raising counterpoints to Obama, in an earlier debate. That was absolutely wrong.

    April 17, 2008 at 10:02 pm |
  29. seah

    This is so devastating. Those poor children. Those poor woman, seems their minds have been taken over and controlled. They seem empty, spiritless, lost.

    Seems like their only purpose in life was to bear children, raise them, cook and clean.

    That is not living that is just merely existing.

    April 17, 2008 at 9:45 pm |