April 18th, 2008
02:21 PM ET

Dispatch from the FLDS hearing: On the stand

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/18/art.polygamy.sketch.jpg%5D

Ismael Estrada
CNN Supervising Producer

Still on the stand: Dr. Bruce Perry...the State is asking the questions

*Says his role in this was AFTER the raid, his office was contacted by CPS because of his role in secondary trauma.

*Perry says that the decision to keep children with mothers was a respectful thing to do, because of the world that these children lived in was isolated. Perry Thought it was a reasonable and flexible thing to do.

*He says that he would not be surprised if the family would cooperate to a point, and NOT talk about many things. He says that children who live in an insulated environment would be very slow in offering information. He says that he felt that the mental health team needed to spend time with the children.

*Perry says that young children are not mature enough to enter into a sexual relationship or a marriage.

*Perry says that the women were very loving with their children....

*Disobedience, as Perry learned from the children, would lead to eternal damnation. That compliance is part of their honoring God.

*Perry believes that they are given some opportunities to make some independent choices, he says that a child didn’t have to get married, but she knows that’s the way to go to Zion...

*Perry says that children are not given the opportunity to learn how to make independent choices.

*In his experience with children where there is an authoritarian, their ability to think independently develops slowly...They tend to be LESS mature than their chronological ages appear to be.

*Perry says he would give the young women a choice to do something, giving them a choice, but even for simple choices they wouldn’t be able to decide.

*The defense attorney's are NOW arguing that Dr. Perry has very little knowledge of this group, the FLDS.

NEXT up...Cross examination of Dr. Perry...

Filed under: FLDS court hearing • Ismael Estrada • Polygamy
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. kimyart

    I'm wondering how come none of the men who have been committing these crimes are being arrested. They were allowed to leave the compound freely. That's the real farce here.

    April 18, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  2. Polly

    It seems to me that the ones on trial here are the women and children. But the men in the FDLS are the ones that need to be locked up behind bars. Why has no one taken them off of the property, questioned them, and charged them with bigamy, physical abuse, and rape? The women and children are front and center in this discussion while the men are... where? Hiding while they feed the women lies to tell the public ? Arrest those men and charge them. Let those frightened women and children go home and have some peace. The women seem to love their children and have risked their lives to keep them safe.

    April 18, 2008 at 8:19 pm |
  3. Arthur B.

    In response to Jimmy Vekmen,

    Technically, there is no polygamy in this case. FLDS members will typically marry only the first wife while the consecutive spouses are "spiritual wives." Therefore it is difficult to press polygamy charges.

    April 18, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  4. Tippy

    All Relegions are cults, just look you drag your kids to church each
    week and brain wash them so what is the difference

    April 18, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  5. msgijoe

    This trial is not a farce. It is a necessary step to bring the FLDS into compliance with Texas law or produce a backlash among the population of Texans to change the law. The pregnancy problems of San Fernando H. S. has nothing to do with the pregnancy problems of Yearning For Zion Ranch. They are two entirely different problems and each needs to be addressed. The Texas folks are taking care of their problem.

    April 18, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  6. arnold snow

    It seems this country has lost its religious freedom. Who is to say these people are wrong in the way they choose to live. The government decides we should live the way they deem appropriate. But our founding fathers fought for our freedom of choice.

    April 18, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  7. George

    Lets hope this does not turn into a Waco...

    April 18, 2008 at 7:13 pm |
  8. Fiona

    This isn't a religion. It's a cult.

    April 18, 2008 at 6:58 pm |
  9. 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 fo 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 6:40 pm |
  10. Mossy

    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    So much for the Bill of Rights

    April 18, 2008 at 6:21 pm |
  11. karilynn

    I want to know how much of my tax dollars have been eaten up by these lost souls.....

    April 18, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  12. Renee August

    I agree with the writer from virginia: Why aren’t SOME of the mothers and cowardly fathers being held in contempt of court? They know they’re wrong and are lying about birth certificates, biological parents and rape of minors. Why was our government supporting this cult in the form of contracts with Jeffs and fraudulent welfare cases when it was aware of what was happening? This cult should be disbanded. This isn't organized religion; it is cult organized brainwashing and sexual abuse of minors. Polygamy and sexual abuse are against the law. The judge needs to enforce these laws.

    April 18, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  13. Dan

    I think we should stop the hypocrisy with the FLDS. Let's not pretend we don't have similar if not worse problems in our inner cities and affluent suburbs. If the State wants to go after a demented leader, fine. But don't victimize innocent people and take children away from their mothers. How many of you have never heard of a pregnant 15 year-old! So why the high moral ground when it comes to God-fearing people?

    April 18, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  14. Kari

    I am all about freedom of religion but we also have laws in this country! The law states that you are only allowed to be married to one person at a time and if you are found to be guilty of Polygamy don't you face criminal charges up to and including jail time?? Do we hold dual standards for these people? Clearly the men have more than one wife...they admitt that freely. If that is not enough, they are bringing the children into this! These poor babies...and I do mean babies because that is what they are...even the older ones. They do not stand up for themselves because they do not know any better! They do not speak up because that freedom has been taken away from them from the beginning. I feel sick to my stomach that the authorities in this country have sat back with their eyes and ears covered for so long as it is. If these children have to go back to the people that have allowed this abuse to happen to them it will certainly be a very sad day for all real parents. A real mommy or daddy would not let anyone treat their child like this.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  15. Linda Barilla

    Am I the only one who's noticed the lack of senior citizen-aged women? I've only seen one....the one baking the bread. Are they also disposable once they can no longer breed???

    April 18, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  16. KarenD


    Uh, no. There is no federal law against polygamy and in many states it is technically permissable.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  17. leigh

    Has anyone noticed that all of the women at the compound basically look exactly like Warren Jeffs? I keep reading that they all come from Barlow and Jessop but nothing about Jeff's possible paternity.
    I don't quite understand if most of these people are interrelated, what DNA testing will accomplish. Seems to me that they are going to maybe have all the same DNA or similar DNA. Overall, it appears as though Jeff's intentions were to repopulate the earth with his people while also amassing as much money as possible. It's not all just child abuse and polygamy, what about things like conspiracy, fraud, kidnapping and tax evasion?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  18. Courtney

    Wow. Teenage pregnancy in high schools has nothing to do with forced conception and usually doesn't involve someone fourty plus years older than you. Seriously, you think that is a just comparison? CPS does not want to seperate the kids from the mothers, in all honesty, but the mothers are not making proper choices. Period. Polygamy is against the law in the state of TX. As is sex with a minor (which means the majority of the men there have violated that as well). It is then considered sexual abuse, and the women that returned are now at fault because by not trying to stop it they are condoning and allowing it.

    I am speaking from experience and from being at Ft Concho, there is OBVIOUS wrong doing that has happened between these young women and some of the older men of the sect. Believe it or not, a lot of them want out.

    It took a while to get the children out because there has to be a justifiable reason for my agency, DFPS, to enter a residence (ie the ranch in this situation) and conduct an investigation. Up until this point, there was not an out cry and it would have been a breech in civil rights for DFPS to step in to the home to conduct interviews and the remaining portions of the investigation.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  19. D&R

    freedeom of religion does not over rule the laws. Polygamy is against the law....period......
    In Texas, no one under 16 can be married, even with parents permission.....period......
    Having sex with underage girls is against the law....period

    I don't care how sheltered these people are....they have to know what they are doing is against the law....and they should pay for it.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  20. David

    The issue is not about polygamy since many fathers these days have 4 children by three different women. The issue is about child abuse, child sexual abuse, abandonment (read about the "lost boys"), incest (see Warren Jeffs, their prophet who forcibly married a 14 year old girl to her 19 year old uncle), and welfare fraud (see bleeding the beast.) More proof of their incest can be found if you look up "fumerase deficiency," which is pervasive in there community and which they depend on government assistance to raise those children. It's one thing is a child is born with a birth defect another if it is a known defect because of continued incest.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  21. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    @Jane Hoffman - the girls you wrote about were victims of statutory rape, since their age alone doesn't permit them to give consent. They also had options: to use protection (birth control), to keep their babies, to abort, or to give their children up for adoption. The girls in the FLDS do not have any options other than to keep their babies. They are also encouraged to have a baby every year. That's why CPS is trying to make their case of sexual abuse (statutory rape) since due to their age, and the laws in TX, they can not give consent.

    You're right that those girls in your high school live in a society where premarital sex is practiced, but each state has laws protecting the rights of minors when it comes to consent.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  22. stephen

    Why isn’t this hearing about bail for the parents? Shouldn’t they be in jail? Isn’t polygamy against the law? And will the “spiritual husbands” be held accountable for impregnating a child?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  23. Colette

    These people are hiding behind religion to justify their perversions. Religion cannot supercede the law. It's adultery and pedophilia!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  24. Jack Jett

    This is another case of WMD's.

    The CPS is caught in a big lie and they don't know how to get out of it.

    They will squirm their way out even if a few hundred kids have to be taken from their family in order for the CPS and the redneck law enforcement to save some face.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  25. Annie Kate

    There are polygamy laws on the books outlawing the practice. Trouble is they are not enforced as a rule. Perhaps if they were we wouldn't have this mess to clean up now. Any situation that does not teach a child to make independent choices and to hope for and expect marriage at the young ages we have heard in the FLDS is an unhealthy and inhibiting environment and endangers all the children – not just the ones in the household with underaged mothers. In a society where there are so many choices one can make in their life, this sect is robbing the children of their individual right to the pursuit of happiness – something our forefathers fought to gain for all of us in the Revolution. I hope this situation can be resolved in a way that the good of the children is the uppermost criteria.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  26. Megan

    Freedom of Religion is absolutely necessary but you can only use it to protect your actions when you abide by all other laws. Breaking the law, which for the FLDS has included fleecing the welfare system, rape, tax evasion, etc, doesn't fall under the freedom of religion protections.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  27. Matt, Houston, TX, USA

    Teresa: From another CNN article today, "While the men at the ranch said there were no Sarahs there, Voss testified, investigators learned through interviews there were five Sarahs at the compound - and that one of them, like the caller, was 16 and had a baby. The women told investigators they did not know where that woman was, and her name was not Sarah Jessop Barlow. It remains unclear whether the 16-year-old who made the calls has been located by authorities."

    Jane: The legal difference between the girls at your high school and those in this cult is the ones in your high school are generally having sex with fellow minors, NOT with men old enough to be their fathers (statutory rape). The plights of some of your students may be similar and they no doubt face many hardships, and where there is neglect their parents should be prosecuted as well.

    Jimmy: Since they are only "spiritual marriages" rather than legal ones, they don't count as being poligamists in the eyes of the law.

    Carol: I agree, get them on the stand, catch them lying, prosecute them for social services/tax fraud, child abuse, whatever will stick. These women and children deserve a better life.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  28. Crystal B. Florida

    Why do communities segregate themselves behind walls and fences? Is it to keep out the evil world, or to keep some secret from the rest of society? It seems obvious to me, that in the case of the FLDS group, it was the latter. I don't believe anyone's God is going to tell his/her people it's ok to go against the laws of the land...that makes you a common outlaw. So why has it taken this long for something to be done about the polygomist lifestyle going on behind closed doors?

    April 18, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  29. Kathy Berigan

    Can't the courts require that the parents PROVE they are the parents of the child before the court returns them to their "parent". I would think that would go a long way in solving the mystery of underage mothers (maybe even incest) and "single" mothers collecting welfare.
    Also, it would shift the blame/prosecution to where it belongs - on the controlling men who are bleeding taxpayers for their lifestyle.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  30. Jay FL

    Jane Huffman
    Little girls who have parents whose irresponsibility allows their children to become pregnant–in no wise makes is OK for parents to teach their little girls that if they do not marry old perverts and have sex with them they will go to hell.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  31. Susan

    I do not know alot about the Bill of Rights, however in studying for an upcoming citizenship test the first amendment gives the rights for,Freedom, Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly and to petion the government but it did not say you had the freedom to sexually take advantage of other people. It is quite clear that Religion and Sex are two seperate issues and they cannot try to combine the two under one catagorie in order to protect themselves. A fence is not going to do it.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  32. Greg

    We are talking about, in effect, a cult. There is no freedom to have any belief other than the off kilter (and illegal in this country) beliefs bestowed on them. There is no freedom of religion here. No one is welcome in that compound if they do not share the exact beliefs of the felon who put them together for his own perverted desires. Further, they are taught from infancy that if they leave they are going straight to Hell. It will take years for the children to understand what has happened to them and emotionally heal from the experience.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  33. Oralia

    I just want to know if that hairdo is a requirement for all women?

    Don't get me wrong this is a serious sitiuation as children's lives are at risk, but just curiuos.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  34. Tony Borja

    Texas has more problems with welfare poor people who get themselves pregnant at early age, dealing with dopes etc, why are they bothering this group FLDS because it is news worthy? I am against polygamy, but the children should be with there mother.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  35. Jim

    I'd like to help them, like many people are wanting to do. Get rid of the men and throw them in jail since they thought of this process, and save the children. I notice no one is talking to the men? The women are confused and many rights have been violated for them, they don't know what to think; they are just fighting for their children and their lives. Besides, they look fine to me, I've seen many church women today in Christian Churches dress this way and have their hair up. The girl who made the phone call was taken off the ranch the day of the raid,,,,,,,,,,she is in another location, that is what is meant by 'she doesn't exist". Follow the lead.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  36. Valerie

    When hearing about the Polygamy I was angry with the women for letting men take control of their minds. They know right from wrong and it's wrong to let girls marry at an early age and especially letting grown men have sex with their daughters. I wanted to just come through the tv and just knock them out. They don't deserve to get their children back.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  37. Adrienne

    I find it incredible that the women/girls were unable to make even simple choices. The entire idea that they have a mind of their own and the right to choose anything for themselves must have been drummed out of them.

    So sad. I really hope that at least the children can be helped. Thinking it is your choice to be raped by an older man at puberty – maybe even one related to you – when you can't even conceptualize the idea of making a choice is horrifying.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  38. Janice

    A tiny (TINY) part of me feels for the mothers as this is what they know in life, and will do or say whatever needs to be said (with instruction from the so called prohets) to get their children back. But allowing the children to go back to this lifestyle would be horrendous! My fear is what happens if they are sent back to thier parents, will the children and mothers be punished? With that being said, even if these children are protected by the law, it doesn't stop here. The cult will just be better at hiding it next time and mass produce to make up for what they have lost. Sad to say, but true.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  39. Regina

    The raid was not about polygamy. The raid was about child abuse. Child Protective Services investigates anonymous reports daily. The fact is that after entering the compound CPS has genuine concerns that sexual abuse and physical abuse of children is happening. CPS uses the Texas Family Code as is guide when investigating a family. The FLDS Members chose to isolate themselves on a compound in the State of Texas and they are subject to the Texas Penal and Family Codes.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  40. Jennifer

    "Disobedience, as Perry learned from the children, would lead to eternal damnation. That compliance is part of their honoring God."

    That's the same thing children in many conservative Christian families are taught. Is the doctor saying this is child abuse? If so, they'd better start rounding up all the Christians.

    Polygamy has been in existence for thousands of years and still is in many cultures around the world. Consenting adults should be allowed to marry as many people as they wish. Why does the state need to be involved in legislating marriage? They aren't hurting anyone.

    As for the children being sexually abused.......I don't recall a mass exodus from the Catholic church when the sexual abuse scandals broke. Why the double standards?

    April 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  41. Jeffrey W

    I want to say that Polygamy is against the law and should be the reason that this FLDS is broken apart. I think that the children and mothers should be re-united and be made to live in separate houses in a normal living environment. Let them practice their religion but with out polygamy. Make the males pay child support to each spouse and make the single spouses go to work to fend for their family. Enough can not be said that the government is not making any good choices in the mind of Americans when things like this get left in the dust and they put War on the for front of America's Issues. As we see with this situation, this is the war that America should be fighting.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  42. Ken Sanders

    I would wager a lot of those very young girls were basically unwilling. And that equals RAPE in my book.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  43. Nancy

    A question no one seems to be asking: where do these people get their money from?

    April 18, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  44. shinobi42

    If when they turn 18 they want to go follow a crazy cult leader to get into Zion, that's fine. But they deserve the choice.

    As it stands, they don't have one. They are being brainwashed.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  45. KIM


    April 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  46. Carol B., Virginia

    Why aren't SOME of the mothers and cowardly fathers (hiding behind the women) being held in contempt of court? They know they're wrong and are lying about birth certificates, biological parents and rape of minors. Why was our government supporting this cult in the form of contracts with Jeffs and fraudulent welfare cases when it was aware of what was happening? This cult should be disbanded and the parents that aren't found guilty should be able to retain the custody of their children. Polygamy should be outlawed. If not Dr. Perry, is anyone else going to address the facts? Just curious.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  47. jimmy vekmen


    April 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  48. Bill Deane

    This trial is a farce.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  49. Jane Hoffman

    I work at San Fernando H.S. There are at least 10 girls in 9th grade who was impregnanted by age 13 and have kids who are babysat at the h.s. whiile their 14 yr old mothers attend school. They don't have parents who appear as if they stepped off a Little House on the Prairie set. Few teachers know little about their lives. The only difference between them and young women in polygamy cult is that their parents are less attentive, their lovers even less attentive and they are more exposed to gangs, drugs, alcohol, etc. They don't have a nice fence around their neighborhood or recreational fields. They live a society where premarital sex is okay and even encouraged by many. And no one is busting them. In fact, the h.s. supports their decision to keep the child by free child care services.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  50. Teresa, Kent, Ohio

    This is all fine and dandy, but WHERE IS THE GIRL WHO MADE THE ORIGINAL phone call? Are the authorities protecting her? Does she even exist? Did the authorities INVENT this phone call in order to get into the compound?

    THANKS for filling us in on the observations/ opinions of Dr. Perry. It sounds like he is being incredibly fair and kindhearted. AND his observations would seem dead on from what we've heard from the robotlike-childlike-women in the FLDS in their interviews.

    ALSO: I noticed that the FLDS people were taking videos of the camera-men and authorities on their property. THIS leads me to believe that there ARE VIDEOS OF THE GIRLS BEING "SPIRITUALLY MARRIED" in order to prove to their prophets the marriage was VALIDATED??? Just a thought. If these pedophiles are sick enough to do the act, they're sick enough to video it.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
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