[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/23/book.292.320.jessop.jpg caption="Carolyn Jessop is a former FLDS Member and Co-Author of Escape" width=292 height=320]
Former FLDS Member
I was shocked when I heard the news of the Texas Appellate Court ruling this afternoon.
Waves of horror washed over me at first as I thought that the children might have to be immediately returned. But that's not going to happen. This ruling will be appealed. It's not a knockout punch, but the FLDS obviously gained some ground today.
If those children go back to the complete, unsupervised control of the FLDS at the Yearning for Zion Ranch it would be like throwing gasoline on a fire that's already burning out of control. It would send a message that the FLDS can get away with any level of crime which would reinforce what society, through its inaction over the years, has reinforced for a very long time. The pattern in the FLDS is, from my experience, that once its leaders can get away with one level of crime they move on to the next.
I know from my conversations with those close to this case that Texas authorities feel they have found a system of abuse within the Eldorado compound. Remember the dozens of babies that were left unattended in a nursery? Or the news this week that 100 kids didn't match up with any parents in the compound? There will be more information about the physical and sexual abuse of these children when criminal charges are filed. A lot of evidence was taken out in the raid that investigators are still piecing together.
I've also been told that in many cases the feeling is that the children now in custody are making steady, if not great gains, in their foster placements. Returning the children to the compound when they are just beginning to feel safe and stable would be catastrophic.
A lot of feelings came rushing back to me this afternoon. Until I won full custody of my children, I felt like the legal system was set-up to protect the perpetrators and not their victims. I didn't feel that I could get protection for my kids.
As I wrote in Escape, there were times on weekend visitations their father would force my children to fast and pray for my death. I don't know if I have ever endured a more shattering experience.
Merril Jessop, my ex-husband, is now the most powerful man in the FLDS and running the compound in Texas.
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