May 20th, 2008
02:18 PM ET

Dispatch from FLDS hearing: Update from courtroom E

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From a pool reporter inside the courtroom

2 cases so far:

Case #1
2 ½ year old girl

Janet Jeffs, the mother, was not in the courtroom, but she and her attorney spoke via speakerphone from Austin, TX. Janet and her child are living together at a shelter in Austin. There were questions about whether Janet was a minor, but at this morning's hearing the state agreed to accept the fact the she was over 18. The mother's court-appointed attorney had to withdraw from the case because she was assigned to represent Janet as a minor. The judge has given Janet a week to find an attorney who will represent her as an adult. Janet says she last saw the father, Raymond Jessop, about a year ago at the ranch. No one knows where he is now.


Case #2
15 year old boy

The father in this case is believed to be in charge of YFZ ranch while Warren Jeffs was in jail.

Father was not present in the courtroom. His where-abouts are also unknown. Mother and father also have 4 other children. The major issue raised by the mother's attorney is that the siblings are not all together, but split between 3 homes. The mother's attorney pointed out that it will be difficult to comply with the terms of the CPS plan. One requirement is that the mom have a job in order to provide for the kids – difficult if she has to run around all over the state to visit with her children. The CPS case worker testified that efforts are being made to bring the 3 girls together in one place and keep the boys together.

Also at issue, the child's access to religious material. The CPS case worker confirmed that FLDS ministers are not being allowed to visit the Cal Farley Home, while children of other religions at the home can have ministerial visits. Another issue involves access to the Book of Mormon. The CPS case worker stated the department would have no problem allowing the Book, "as long as it doesn't have Warren Jeffs picture." The mother's attorney asked whether the "safe living environment" outline in the CPS plan meant "away from the ranch." He replied, "Yes, away from the ranch."

Filed under: Barclay Palmer • FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Merrill P.

    Where are all the fathers? Do they not care enough about their children to show up in court and help try to get the children back or are they laying low so they don't get prosecuted for statutory rape and bigamy?

    Merrill P.
    Vestavia Hills, AL

    May 20, 2008 at 8:58 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    It took a lot of courage to leave the FLDS ranch and a lifestyle that they had known all their lives. These women aren't crazy – they are brave. And the findings of the CPS seem to bear out their tales of what was happening in the sect – how else do you explain a 17 1/2 year old pregnant mother with one other child already?

    I hope the plans the CPS has drawn up deal with these absent men too – the men assert their religious freedom to have many wives yet when its time to "pay the piper" so to speak they disappear into the hills leaving the women, who they victimized as well, to deal with the fallout. I hope the children get back with their mothers because long term that is the best for them – but the children need to be free of the risk of abuse and brainwashing and able to make their own choices in a country which has many options.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 20, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  3. Carol

    I hope that those crazy women who wrote books and appeared on TV telling their fantastic tales of life within the FLDS are happy with these results.

    Kids are spread out all over the state. They didn't even keep siblings together. Who knows what they are being told in these Foster homes. Do all of these Foster care homes contain trained psychologists who can help the kids cope with the terror of being forcibly removed from their homes by armed police? How about coping with the separation from their families as well as the shock of the outside world?

    None of the accusations, so far, have turned out to be true. The phone call was a hoax – the story of the teen mother was false. All they have are the stories of a very small group of women who, for whatever reason, chose to leave while hundreds chose to stay.

    It seems that the "escapees" have adjusted to our capitalist society quite well. As long as they are making money off their books and appearances, who cares what happens to anyone else. And, who cares if it's true or false.

    May 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  4. Brian from Granada Hills

    It must be hard on these women, not only having to agree to marriage and have kids at such a young age, but having to lose their children because of the state's decision. Many of the victims, seem very well rounded and smart. I think separating the kids from their parents is really cruel and unfortunate for everyone involved.

    May 20, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  5. Jackie

    These children should be kept together as siblings while in foster care. It is a proven fact that seperating siblings is a bad idea. It is bad enough to need to pull these kids out of harms way, but help make the transition easier by allowing the kids to stick together.
    The parents of the kids should know what a safe enviroment is. The opposite of what they had.
    Only a pedofile would think a young girl of 13 to 16 is attractive and wifely material. They are not only immature for an adult relationship, but also having their childhoods ripped away from them.

    May 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  6. Kim in NY

    A mother of 5, father is missing, kids spread all over the state, now the state decides she needs a job to provide for HER kids! And these kids are home-schooled! WOW. I have thought the state was wrong in taking the children in the first place, now they want her to "get a job to provide for her children" in an economy where people are loosing their jobs. This is just getting scarier and scarier..... The kids WERE being provided for. And who is going to watch them if/when mom gets a job. Oh let me guess – put them in day care "WHERE CHILDREN HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO BE ABUSED" This is just crazy.

    May 20, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
  7. Cindy

    Seems as if all of the dads have went into hiding. They are a bunch of cowards it seems leaving the moms to deal with the mess that they created! Don't these women realize that? Maybe this will open their eyes and they can get out of that cult. But I won't hold my breath on that one!

    May 20, 2008 at 2:30 pm |