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April 21st, 2008
11:59 PM ET

Dispatch from FLDS Hearings

Cheryl Getty
CNN Producer

Headlines

  • Today Judge Walthers held a hearing regarding a temporary restraining order to provide immediate access for attorneys, respect the right to privacy in prayer, and to prevent separation of breast feeding mothers from their children.
  • Andi Sloan, an attorney and executive director for Texas Advocacy Project, spearheaded the hearing for the women and children and Deborah Keenum, a local attorney for young children, assisted.

Communication

  • First complaint was that attorneys had to wait in line for hours just to get to see their clients and their clients had no way to get in touch with them and vice versa.
  • The state said they just installed today, Monday, 8 telephone lines for use by women and children. 
  • Sloan said eight phones not enough for 400 plus children and 50 mothers. 
  • The judge ruled that her responsibility is to the children.  The mothers are their voluntarily and can leave anytime.
  • The judge ruled that 6 of the telephone lines will be reserved for children between the ages of 15 and 18 years old. Any child younger than that, the attorneys agreed, just wouldn't understand enough.  2 telephone lines will be made available for mothers and each mother has a time limit of one hour per phone call.  The children no limit.  Phones are available for teenagers and mothers 24 hours.   If abused they will reevaluate. Calls, whether attorneys calling in or teenagers or mothers calling out, will be verified that they are speaking to attorneys only.
  • The judge said they think they have approx 100 teenagers and that 6 phones plenty. 

Regarding Privacy to Prayer

  • The mothers and children have requested that they have a private place to pray twice a day at 6:30am and 7pm daily.  Currently the mothers are being discouraged from gathering in groups. 
  • The judge ruled they have right to pray and ordered attorneys and state to get together. San Angelo has a Morman community. It was proposed to reach out to them ask for volunteers to come into the coliseum twice daily to be present inside the group prayers. If anything other than prayer occurs they can alert state.  The state agreed this was a fair compromise and so did Sloan.

Regarding Separation of breast feeding mothers

  • The judge first said she recognizes that breast feeding has unique health and immune benefits in addition to special mother child bonding.
  • But the judge reminded the court that every day in America mothers leave their infant Children after only 6 weeks of maternity leave.
  • That said, Judge Walthers said each child under the age of 2 will have their individual case evaluated.  Waltherstold the court and Sloan that the state has yet to present a proposal on how, where and to whom they will assign these young children. Sloan's objection is premature and work with the state please. Walthersreminded the court she does not give advisory opinion and wait to see what choices the state presents and then she will deal with it on a case by case basis. 

A REPEAT OF DNA TESTING INFO

  • DNA Testing is occurring at three locations in Texas:
  1. Coliseum in San Angelo
  2. Schleicher Co. Memorial Building in Eldorado begins April 22 at 10am CT
  3. Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in Boys Town, TX. begins April 25th at 10am
  • Testing done by Laboratory Corporation of America: Jerry Strickland with the TX AG's office says each test is costing $95 per person including swab and analysis and parentage results.
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Erika, portsmouth va

    Kimmie– "And let’s not pretend that these are the only “children” being sexually active in this country. There are many many sexually active 14 year olds."First of all these girls are not CHOOSING to be sexually active, it's occuring no matter what, and in my high school the girls that were weren't sleeping with 50 YEAR OLD men, that's obviously NOT their choice. The law is the law. It will never be ok for a suppose to be responsible adult to have sexual intercourse with a child...notice how cults always do these disgusting things in the name of God and religion so they can hide behind their perverted ways, yet they're so peaceful right? Those girls have experienced NO peace, only torture.

    April 22, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  2. preston

    Does anyone else feel helpless watching what is being done to these people? What happened to a person's right to a trial by jury? What happened to habeas corpus? Does no one else feel uneasy about that fact that the State of Texas can take away EVERY person's INFANT child based on allegations of abuse within this group of people? Why can't the state focus on finding the criminals and bringing them to justice? Why are these women and their children being treated like the criminals? Are they guilty by association? When all of this shakes out the State of Texas may end up looking very badly. I wish I was a plaintiff attorney because I have a feeling the State of Texas will be paying these people big sums of money because of the terrible way this incident has been handled. What is Texas going to do in the future? Take away kids as they are born to these people? Force these people to never have kids again? Will the State of Texas just show up armed and ready at the hospital each time an FLDS person gives birth in the future?

    April 22, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  3. em

    I';d like to remind everybody that is "outraged" by the way thisppl have been treated, that the practices of the FLDS are VERY VERY VERY well known so much that its "big boss" and prophet and leader and and is in friggin JAIL.... so let's please not say that thier rights have been violated when THEy violate their kids, their women and brain wash everybody in their compund. We are talking about a SECT known for their abuses, their practice of EXPELLING, aka kicking out boys as young as 13-14 beacuse are a threat to the older men, that woudl not otherewise have anough wifes for themselves.
    So please. Let's leave Texas law do its course and the judge to make her decision.

    Once all evidence is in, than you can criticize.
    Or not.

    April 22, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  4. Jennifer

    OMG. I am absolutely outraged at what is being done to these people. Their civil rights are being trampled on hand and foot. Where is the ACLU??? Of course allegations of abuse need to be investigated, but the state is so far out of constitutional bounds here it makes me realize just how much in danger we ALL are of losing our freedoms. Unbelievable.

    April 22, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
  5. darlene

    Robin, I too was wondering where the older people are. No old women and no old men. Why?

    April 22, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  6. Sherri, Dubai UAE

    "Regarding Separation of breast feeding mothers

    The judge first said she recognizes that breast feeding has unique health and immune benefits in addition to special mother child bonding.
    ***But the judge reminded the court that every day in America mothers leave their infant Children after only 6 weeks of maternity leave.***"

    Seriously? Seriously!

    How is it that the WARPED US tradition of giving mothers only 2 months off maternity leave, is even relevant for this Judge's ruling. That blows my mind.

    These women, warped as they are, have the absolute right to raise their child how they see fit...and the nourishment for their newborns or their 6 month olds is completely their call.

    Are there not mothers across America breastfeeding through 1 year? Why is that not relevant. I don't know, the judge's comments just struck me as incredibly "working mother biased" and these women are clearly not that.

    April 22, 2008 at 11:35 am |
  7. Thanh T.

    Hi, CNN and Anderson. Good Morning. Interesting article…

    I think cases especially dealing with young children such as this are very sensitive and must be handled with special care.

    I think some of the cases will invovled a long legal process…

    I briefly read some of the previous blogs posted. I would agree. I think during these individual evaluations and investigations process… most of the presented information-evidences will have an impact on the individual custody cases-decisions.

    I think those involved in these special cases must be careful not to overly sensationalize the issues-concerns…Would you agree or disagree?

    When measuring the cost: custody hearing, DNA testing-$95 per person (416 children, 50 mothers that's approximately $42,750)

    There’s also the mismanagement of $1.7 million in defense contracts…Hmmm, I wonder who will be responsible for paying the legal bill.

    Interesting article… Have a great day. Take care. Talk to you all later.

    April 22, 2008 at 7:49 am |
  8. Kimmie

    People "choose" to leave their children after 6 six weeks, not have their infants ripped out from them because someone, somewhere in the neighborhood may have married a sixteen year old. I don't agree with the sect life-style, but this is just ridiculous. I hope these kids can recover from being ripped away from their parents. And let's not pretend that these are the only "children" being sexually active in this country. There are many many sexually active 14 year olds. By the reasoning of Texas, every high school student as well as their brothers sisters should be taken out of their homes. Save those who want out, and leave the rest of them alone.

    April 22, 2008 at 7:13 am |
  9. Alex

    While there is no excuse for child abuse and perpetrators have to be persecuted with all power of resources on command of US legal system, every American citizen has rights granted by US constitution which cannot be violated frivolously, without proper investigation and without sufficient evidence. Moreover US law requires individual investigation to be conducted for each case of child abuse as with any other crime. I believe that in this case Texas State violated the Fourth amendment of US constitution which protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Child Protective Services and law enforcement went overboard in trying to protect the children from abuse. This “act of help” from authorities might be the most traumatic abuse these children ever experienced.

    The sweeping violation of the mere presumption of innocence, of the basic concept of individual guilt and individual responsibility- all in the name of good intentions and rescuing children – this monumental violation of human rights is an act of atrocity standing in line with the Nazi crimes prosecuted in Nuremberg.

    April 22, 2008 at 12:35 am |
  10. Robin

    After watching much of the reporting done from the Texas FLDS compound, I have become curious about the apparent lack of elderly members. With their seemingly "healthy" lifestyle; no smoking or drinking, organically grown food, no TV and plenty of hard work, one would think they these folks would enjoy much longevity.

    I understand that they children are the primary concern here, but it does perhaps beg the question......is menopause literally the kiss of death in the FLDS?

    April 22, 2008 at 12:32 am |