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May 21st, 2008
05:20 PM ET

Dispatch from FLDS hearing: 11-year-old girl wants to "return home"

Editor's Note: The following is a dispatch from CNN's Senior producer Tracy Sabo inside the FLDS courtroom hearings.

Courtroom B, Case #2

Note: The next case was going to be postponed to take place at the same time as all the other 11 children in state custody… but the guardian for this child had dialed in by phone/”Court call” at the personal cost of $55, and the Judge could not guarantee reimbursement… so they proceeded in hearing this one case of the 10.)

Mother: Rebecca
Father: Marion Steed

Child: Angela, age 11

Highlights:

  • Some confusion over the case plan which was filed here for the wrong Angela (one from the earlier hearing), but that was eventually sorted out by the Court.
  • The father was first shown with the service plan as he walked into the courtroom, so he needed an extra 15 minutes to look it over. He filed an objection as to its “generality” but said that he would sign it and work the plan.
  • Mother atty filed objections to the plan arguing that the summary at the beginning of the document included incorrect ages for all the children and was full of errors and therefore she was arguing that the 14-day hearing was unlawful). The argument was overruled by the court, but attached to the case file.
  • The couple says they are legally married to each other and lived on the ranch in a single family dwelling with all their children.
  • DNA testing was done for both parents and children.
  • The caseworker spoke with mother Rebecca about the plan and about visitation plans thus far.
  • Cross-examination from the father’s attorney, J. Roxane Blount, focused on working to get the children moved closer together due to some spots being opened at some of the shelters. She said the children are now in Amarillo, Waxahachie and San Antonio. The youngest child is now with the mother in custody at the San Antonio Children’s Shelter.
  • Caseworker Kilpatrick says she does not yet have a date as to when the children can begin home school studies. She said family picture books are allowed at the shelters as long as they know who is shown in the pictures or can be told.
  • The father’s attorney asked the caseworker if the father could visit more than one hour per week or make calls to all his children. The caseworker said, right now, only one hour a week was being allowed due to scheduling issues (case workers have to supervise all the visits).
  • Regarding the possibility that another family member could petition for guardianship of the children in the meantime, the caseworker was asked by the father’s atty,” “Would a family member who has custody be able to live at the YFZ ranch or has that not been determined yet?” The caseworker responded, “The department has not made a determination on that?”
  • The caseworker said she had not yet received birth records or social security #’s for the children or a marriage license for the parents.
  • Under cross-examination by the mother’s atty., the caseworker asked if the mother had asked any questions about the case plan and signing it. The caseworker said, “She asked ‘is signing it admitting that I am guilt?’” The caseworker said she told the mother she was not.
  • Angela is not placed with any of her other siblings as of now, and the mother is requesting she be moved to be with them as soon as possible. The caseworker assured the parents that she would call and check on any new openings “this afternoon after court.”
  • Asked by the mother’s atty. whether CPS would hold it against he if she received financial support from her husband, the caseworker said, “It is based on family income. That would not be a problem as long as he is complying with the plan.” She was further asked, “Would you hold it against her if she received money from the FLDS church?” The caseworker said that would be okay, “as long as it was not her only form of income since the State wanted to show she had stability.
  • The mother’s attorney asked if the State was discussing anything like adoption for these FLDS children, and the caseworker responded, “Not as far as I know.”
  • Asked by the mother’s atty. if the children were being allowed to keep any items of religious significance and teaching, the caseworker said the children were allowed to have the Book of Mormon and several other items from their religious teachings.
  • Angela’s parent reminded the court that Angela’s own wishes were to “return home” and be with her other siblings according to the atty’s recent meeting with her.

Judge Comments/Decision: Judge Gossett responded to the guardian’s last comment on record saying, “I feel for her, and I feel for the parents.” He said such wishes were “normal.” He asked the parents if they read and understood the plan, and both parents responded simply “yes” to all questions.


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Mark Stewart

    God IS my witness! Yours too (anyone).

    For thousands of years humans have profitted from abduction and sale of other human beings.
    What other knee-jerk ignorance, and (for thosands of years) illegal hat tip would inspire the State of Texas?
    400 kids? Drop in the bucket. Let's forget real focus on their misery, forget the inumerable outcomes of abduction felt around the world.

    Alternatives? Oh dear, inspire us all.
    Home care is only for physically sick human beings.
    God forbid that we should respond appropriately to children we believe are in need. Yeah Texes! Appropriately sophisticated, now: "YEE-HAH!"

    May 21, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    The court seems to be trying to move the cases along at a reasonable speed and not drag them out forever. I will be glad when all the cases are done and the parents and CPS can work together to create a better environment for these children and their mothers. This country has so many options and I hope that in executing these court ordered plans the mother and the children become familiar with these options and can have more freedom than they had before.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 21, 2008 at 10:03 pm |
  3. Heidi

    Give children back to their parents, if law let that people to have more wifes, than same law shu ould let rais their children in that surouding , on the end , nobody can take better care of them ,then their parents, otherwise children will grow under trauma. This Nation allways have bieng great Nation, We have all kind of freedoms ,so let have freedom to reais children in teir home
    Thank you America

    May 21, 2008 at 8:56 pm |
  4. Mary

    This is taking far to long. Does this court and the State of Texas know what they are doing? I am concerned that all the parents and children have been condemned because of a few. Loving. caring parents should have their children back home.

    Children are often abused and neglected in foster care and shelters and I have heard that some parents and children have indeed been abused but their voices are silenced.

    May 21, 2008 at 8:30 pm |