May 19th, 2008
06:12 PM ET

Dispatch from FLDS hearing: Where are the fathers?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/19/aart.fldscourt3.jpg]
Ismael Estrada
360° Producer

Afternoon session in San Angelo, Texas. Judge Thomas Gossett presiding.

Kathleen Steed, mother of 12, possibly 13 (one child is being disputed): Father, LeRoy Steed, is not present, state has not been able to locate him. Hearing focused on only one of their children, an 8-year-old girl.

Paige Hawkins, Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services, on the stand... She says the state formulated a "family service plan" for the family based on risks that officials felt the child faced when they removed her from the FLDS ranch.

They haven't had any contact with the father, nor was he included in forming the plan.

The 8-year-child is placed in Waco, Texas. The state is also aware that the mother has children spread out throughout the state and has been having to travel long distances to see them.

Re education: The state has received a home-school curriculum from the mother. Officials say they are being sensitive to the religion, and a book of Mormon has been passed to the children if it is provided by the parent.

Attorneys for the mother also asked if they could provide a book of sermons written in part by FLDS "prophet" Warren Jeffs.

The state says that due to Jeffs' conviction on chargees that he was an accomplice to rape after arranging a marriage to an underaged girls, requests like this are usually denied, but they'd like to see the book before passing judgment.

The Judge said the goal of this hearing is reunification of the family. He felt the service plan was appropriate, and made 2 observations:

"I am not a big fan of home schooling," he said. "I understand your concerns with public school, but I am also aware that unlike many other families who have put their kids in home schooling, you are actually schooling your children. " He said the children should be tested to see where they would best fit in the school system.

He also noted the absence of yet another father: "Mr. LeRoy Steed is not here, he needs to get involved with the process."

To the mother, the judge continued, "If you work the plan, the kids would be returned to you. However if the father does not work the plan, the kids would go only to you..If you decide to go live with the father and he has not completed the program, your kids can be taken away."

Filed under: FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Lesli

    Lili, although I understand your comment about the community being "all about sex," I encourage you to look at the outside world we live and and I challenge you to determine that it also is all about sex.

    The society we live in in based on some pretty strange ideas on what is acceptable. Our society no longer frowns on people having multiple sexual partners either in or out of marriage, whether or not these participants have children. Boil this down and you have nothing different than what is happening at the FLDS compound. They stand behind their religion for justification, but we on the outside world want to wash religion from our lives so that we do not need to feel bad about what we are doing sexually in our lives. At least the children have a family which works for them in many cases.

    If children in the FLDS are sexually active early in life I challenge you to go to a single school system and take an a survey of the sexually active children and the abused children. It would be interesting to see the comparison statisitics.

    This is not to say that I don't fell there needs to be an investigation into this cult, and those breaking the law and hurting children must be held accountable and must be punished.

    Unfortunately, I think it is really funny the way we react to this story, but gloss over the fact that a high percentage of our teens are sexually active in the way our society deems acceptable. What we find abhorant is the fact that it is men who decide the fate of their children and this happens the world over. Not just in the FLDS.

    May 20, 2008 at 9:01 am |
  2. afshin in Los angeles

    Matt in tucson up there sounds like he might be one of the fathers in this unbelievable, disgusting and brain washed cult case that has luckily been uncovered.

    May 20, 2008 at 3:17 am |
  3. JJ_Orlando

    PS-Hue Heffner has sex with a lot of younger women that act like wives and he is immoral and he is an American IDOL. Now that is backwards when we attack these good people/

    May 19, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  4. JJ_Orlando

    Since when is it bad for responsible people to have more than one wife. Since when are we suppose to decide when a girl is to young to get married. I bet they never would divorce. Says more than the rest of the nation. These are good people. Women are not programmed thats just dumb they make their own decisions but outside people want to choose how life is suppose to be.

    May 19, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  5. staci

    The first clue that these women are not the parental figure we would all hope we will be to our children is when the women wanted to pass along writings by Warren Jeffs... Heres your sign. He is being convicted of attempted rape of a minor and you want your children to read his writing. If you are going to continue to worship someone after that I belive it to be clear and present danger no matter how old you are

    Now I realize that these women have been programmed just listening to them talk is enough to make any self respecting women vomit, but when is human nature going to kick in and tell them that what they have been doing is not on the up and up. I dont care what religion you belong to more than one wife is disgusting and having 15 or more children is let along not healthy but insanity. Purgatory for those men I say!

    May 19, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  6. sarah B....Durham,NC

    the child's welfare is the top priority and however the state of TX finds that is to be accomplished either through "Reunification" or transitional treatment.....it will still be a lengthly process....it will be informative and will dissect all the aspects of their family dynamics and if it is "Healthy" for the child to continue in that environment.....i am fascinated by this story

    May 19, 2008 at 8:11 pm |
  7. Lili

    I'm very concerned for these children and these mothers. Would you allow a child to live in a whore house? Of course not... But this community is all about sex, what FLDS calls Heaven on Earth... The men have multiple partners including very young girls and the women are continually pregnant...The women go to the man who they are told to go to, and change men when their prophet or pimp tells them to... Just like a you know what...and they call it a religion...I pray the Judge can see through it and protect the children.

    May 19, 2008 at 7:41 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    I don't understand the judge's remarks on home schooling – that he understands their concerns but that unlike others they are schooling their children – if the children are being schooled by their parents even in a home school setting what is the judge's concern??

    I wonder once the mothers go through the plan and get their children back if they will move elsewhere to another FLDS community to escape the monitoring of their families especially if the fathers refuse to comply with the plans.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 19, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  9. Matt in Tucson

    Odd that the title uses the plural "fathers" instead of the singular "father" when this is only one court case, and only one father is involved. A previous article was quoting one of the fathers who showed up.

    However, the question he isn't asking is why the children were taken away in the first place, when the Texas officials had traced the call to Colorado *before* the raid. That sounds like bad faith to me.

    Quite frankly, the Texas CPS should be learning something about good parenting from the FLDS. The state has shown themselves to be much worse guardians, and absolutely terrible when it comes to guarding the constitution.

    May 19, 2008 at 6:29 pm |