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May 14th, 2008
11:30 AM ET

Dispatches from the FLDS: Not a Minor, now what?

Photos from a Web site launched by the sect show scenes during and after the raid of their ranch.

Photos from a Web site launched by the sect show scenes during and after the raid of their ranch.

Ismael Estrada
CNN Supervising Producer

Texas state officials confirm that the mother of child born in CPS care last week, is in fact not a minor, but an adult. Which leads to the question everyone has been asking since CPS removed over 400 children from the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, Texas in March. How old are these children, really? The state says they have been stymied by inconsistent birth dates, a lack of official birth records and different stories about their birth parents and ages. Last month, district Judge Barbara Walther ordered DNA testing for all the children and parents.

Texas Child Protective Services spokesperson Marleigh Meisner would not elaborate on the age of the mother, other than to say that she was not a minor. Meisner also would not elaborate on whether the mother was underage when the child was conceived. This could prove to be a hot potato for the state, as many of the ages of the women in state custody come to light. Proving to be a more difficult question, What will the state do with at least one child born to an adult the state believed was a minor?


Filed under: FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    The FLDS learned from the raid in 1953 that they needed to obfuscate any and all records of who was married to whom, how old they were, and who the parents of the children are and their ages. The difficulty of establishing proof does not mean that underage marriage and sexual relations did not go on, it just means its going to be harder to prove it. The fact that none of this is straight forward suggests to me that the state is correct in their charges of underage marriage and underage pregnancy. I hope that Child Protective Services can be given the time to establish what is going on and to ensure what is best for these children

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 14, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  2. Mike in NYC

    Larry wrote:

    "pls remember that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is up to his armpits in this outrage upon the dignity of the people of the United States."

    From Shurtleff's wiki entry:

    "In November 2006, Shurtleff was given Mexico's Aguila Azteca award, for "for foreigners who serve Mexico or humanity" for his support for illegal immigrants."

    He's far more concerned with the "dignity" of invaders than his own constituents.

    I'd start questioning the agendas of those who originate such policies.

    May 14, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  3. Ruth

    I am glad that the abuses by CPS are finally coming to light. They know those "disputed minors" are adults or old enough to be legally married, they just want a legal way to steal the babies. I hope that the FLDS sues the state of Texas until their oil wells dry up and everyone involved in this goes to Federal Prison for unlawful arrest, kidnapping, and violating the constitutionally guaranteed rights of US citizens. Jeremiah Wright needs to change his statement to God D*** Texas – they deserve it for this crusade.

    May 14, 2008 at 6:21 pm |
  4. naknudson

    I would very much like to have someone tell me how the mother are able to collect welfare without birth certificates and proof of mothering the children she is claimining benefits for that would be all the proof they need wouldnt it?

    May 14, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  5. Happy Day

    pls remember that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is up to his armpits in this outrage upon the dignity of the people of the United States.

    Some might even call him the persecutor in chief, or more formally, Caiaphas Shurtleff.

    Of course, the real question is why? Why is Shurtleff doing this?

    Is he acting as a surrogate, and if yes, for whom?

    Did he work to raise the marriage age in Texas so he could carry his vendetta against the people whose religion he opposes to Texas?

    May 14, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  6. Larry

    Wonder if the polygamists in Canada are watching how this plays out?

    May 14, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  7. Kent, Illinois

    Yeah, that is quite a mess. But, it isn't the polygamists job to prove anything. They are innocent until proven guilty........remember everyone? USA........USA........USA......lol. They know from the past that keeping records of any kind gets them in trouble. Hell, they don't even know which kids are their own kids. Communal existence. Peace and love.........are we back in the 60's?

    May 14, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Ann

    Living in a compound like this is not normal anyway...even if some of the children are of age. Their parents have deprived them of maybe never having a normal life because they would not know how to function in real society..and at some point in their lives they may have to. The parents should have to move out of the compound for at least a year and seek professional help and then the state reevaluate each adult before returning the children.

    May 14, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  9. cj,ca

    I KNEW it!! From the first day I heard this story, I knew this would happen.

    This whole story has been blown out of proportion and all CNN has reported is rumors and speculation. I saw right through that Carolyn person the first time she appeared on TV. Everyone is purchasing her book and writing about how brave she is to come forward ...... please, she is a pissed-off ex-wife who saw an opportunity to cash in on the mass hysteria surrounding the FLDS.

    First we hear that the phone call was a hoax. Now this story about a teen mother isn't true. What's next?

    Two things have really bothered me about this whole thing: First, that the Texas authorities would raid the place and traumatize all those kids. Secondly, (and this is the thing that has really shocked and scared me), is the reaction of the public. It's been like a mob mentality. People are willing to believe the worst and condemn others, because they look different and have a different lifestyle, without waiting for any investigations or trials.

    I'm not stating emphatically that there is nothing strange going on inside the FLDS. I am saying – we don't know – let's wait and find out before we condemn the entire group. Also if there is physical or sexual abuse going on within the FLDS, the statistics are probably no different than the number of kids abused and neglected in any city in the country.

    May 14, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  10. Gary Chandler in Canada

    I ask again; why does it have come down to age or broken bones?
    Will someone explain how the loss of freedom of movement, freedom to have universal education, and the loss of freedom of religion for the drones born into these camps is not a serious enough abuse issue to send in the authorities?
    I don't care how many partners that adults in a free society want to have, but to teach polygamy to entrapped young children is child abuse in my opinion.
    Do they study geography? What if they wanted to do a field trip to Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon? It would not be allowed because they might discover there is a world. Regardless of underage sex or broken bones, which are great reasons for intervention, the enforced brain washing should be curtailed by the authorities!
    There should be 'monitors' in these camps to check on what teachings they subject their children to. Polygamy should be in the the curriculum at the age of consent and if they choose it, let them.

    May 14, 2008 at 12:23 pm |
  11. Cindy

    If they can't prove the real ages of these women/girls then how are they going to prove in court that they were sexually abused as minors? I think the lack of real birth records is going to be a thorn in their sides.

    The people in the FLDS are not crazy. They knew by keeping shoddy records that if they got in trouble with the law it would make it hard to prove any thing. They did that on purpose.

    May 14, 2008 at 11:42 am |