April 18th, 2008
06:10 PM ET

FLDS Hearing: 'Which children are least at risk?'

Katherine Wojtecki
CNN producer

Attorneys asking that their clients' cell phones be returned so they can communicate... most attorneys are returning home for weekend.Orange group representing pregnant teenagers asks state psychiatrist Dr. Perry if young mothers should be allowed to remain with their babies.

-would need info on specifics of child, father, all kinds of stuff needs to be gathered in regards to mothers, which will take time.

Orange group asks about a 27-year-old mother who is with her children in the coliseum, where the state took children removed from the FLDS compound. If a mom with 2 kids would accept services from Child Protection Services and lived away from the ranch, would you determine that children are at risk or should kids be removed from mom?

Reasonable to have that mother and her children live as she chooses offsite.

Teenage boys group next, asking Dr. Perry: What if boys and mothers returned to the FLDS ranch?

That would be very different. If they go to that environment it re-enforces beliefs about that community.

Which children are least at risk for return to their mothers? What age group?

Youngest or babies are least influenced by any beliefs and young mothers were very caring for their babies so they are at least risk.

What kind of harm do you see happening with them if they are returned?

They continue to be exposed by those beliefs. Emotional harm, yes. If these children are in the custoday of the state, there have to be exceptional elements in place for these children and their familes. The traditional foster care would not be good for these children.
I think these children and familes have to get to be known on an individual basis. There should be a specific plan put together that is nurturing and allows people the ability to make true, free decisions. Not a one size fits all program.

Purple group, represents girls aged 5 to 11: The court has to find evidence there is danger to physical or psych health to children. It's their brain you are worried about? While CPS determines a plan in the meantime, our clients are little girls and are suffering.

Yes their emotional needs, their social needs.

Attorney for girls aged 5 – 11 asks state psychiatrist Dr. Perry what's the danger of letting the girls of this age group return to families.

Perry: young pre-adolescent children are most vulnerable to impact by a community that believes in sexual abuse.

Attorney asks what is the difference if they are in the pavilion or at home... Aren’t they still subjected to the same belief system?

Perry:the difference is that the major source of authority in that household is the men... when the men are not around those beliefs are not reinforced.

Attorney asks about foster care.

Perry: If you put these children in foster care, they will be with children that are very different from them, they will be in schools that are very different from what they know. That would not be good for the children. These children cannot be put in a traditional foster care system. People need training in how to deal with the children from the FLDS, their beliefs etc.

He says people who come from environments like this are more susceptible to others who want to exploit them. They have a child-like innocence…

Attorney for boys birth through 4 years old asks about medical issues or dangers for the children…health exams, etc.

Perry: says obviously they have a different belief system, lack of immunizations etc, but generally the children are healthy.

Another attorney asks whether children growing up in the ranch environment would be more apt to being sexual predators..

Perry: I guess, yes.. the longer the kids are exposed to these beliefs and environment, the more a chance for the child to learn that behavior.

If there were any children to be returned to their family, would it not be better to return the youngest children?

Perry: the babies would be least likely affected…then birth thru age 4. But those children are still with their parents at the coliseum, where the state placed them.

Attorney is asked, which is worse, taking these kids from their parents or send them back to the ranch.

Perry: the children are still with their parents, but it’s a lose–lose situation.

One attorney says there are children serperated from their parents when they were taken from the ranch…young kids 0-4…one child has not seen her mother in 2 weeks.

Is any cause for concern if the children are returned to the parents of the ranch. Could the kids be hidden from the court?

Perry: yes, that is a legitimate concern.


Filed under: FLDS court hearing • Polygamy
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    I don't understand how these people get welfare without birth certificates and social security numbers. And do they misrepresent who is the mother when they apply so more women can draw on the welfare system to get more money? And do they pay taxes? I wonder too if they participated in the latest federal census and how they represented themselves? No wonder the lawyers and the court is having a hard time finding documentation for all the children.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 18, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  2. Lee Sharp

    I heard tonight on CNN that none (or some) of these 416 children do not have birth certificates. I have also heard over time that this sect abuses the welfare system by having umarried sister wives apply for and receive welfare benefits for their children (themselves too?). How is this possible in cases where there is no birth certificate for a child? If I remember correctly in order to get social security numbers for my children when t hey were born, birth certificates had to be presented. I assume that to get welfare you have to have a social security number. Surely it is a crime not to register the birth of a child in the USA?

    April 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  3. Karen, Leesburg VA

    Here's one for JEFFREY TOOBIN to sort out:

    Since Warren Jeff's can take a wife from one man and reassign them to another man, along with their children, is it not possible that the DNA testing could show that a woman is a child's biological mother, but some of her children may have a different biological father–a father who could then also claim a legal right to custody?

    If such relationships were established, could the state of Texas then require the women to prove that they were both legally married and then legally divorced or face bigamy charges? What would the state do if the DNA tests indicated incest had taken place?

    Also when the women told CNN reporters they were married at a legal age, might they mean to the man they now consider to be their husband, but they might have had an earlier (under age) marriage? I doubt that anyone ever told these women that a half-truth is still a whole lie!

    April 18, 2008 at 9:16 pm |