June 4th, 2008
09:08 AM ET

Dispatch from the FLDS: “They literally cried..."

Chuck Johnston
Assignment Editor, CNN National Desk

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/03/art.polygamyreturnblur.jpg]
The gates outside the Yearning For Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas, are usually locked. But they were open late Tuesday, as families returned to the sprawling ranch with children being returned from foster homes around the state.

“We just traveled day and night. Texas is a beautiful state, I had no idea I would see that much of it,” Zavenda Young said, holding her youngest daughter while her husband Edson Jessop embraced their sons.

“We are sure grateful to be home,” she added. “We’ve traveled 11,000 miles covering visits to the children, visits with attorneys, and all.”

Young told reporters the family had been temporarily living in the Houston area as they shuttled in between their four children and their caseworkers.

“The people that have been taking care of the children were doing such a wonderful job. They literally cried when we took them away,” Young said of the foster parents who cared for the children after they were removed from the ranch by state officials in April, citing evidence of underage marriages and statutory rape.

Young said the children had been hit hard by the removal to foster homes around the state. "They are dazed," she said. "They are not the same. We hope they pull out of it.”

Some reporters asked returning children how it felt to be back with their parents on the ranch. Clearly still shaken by the experience, children clung to their parents and shied away from the cameras.

Jessop said the raid had created misconceptions of the FLDS members of the polygamist ranch:

“We feel that everybody has been fed a whole bunch of garbage about us. I think when most people come to know us they come to learn that we are different than they suppose, but it’s really hard to change the spots on a leopard-we are what we are. I am the same kind of man that my father and grandfather was. I don’t know why the world wants to change me.”

Filed under: FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. hugo olson

    Ask the authorities: did they find drugs, guns, alcohol, porn tapes, MTV, Rap, Thug music, filth, disrespectful children, cursing, laziness, half naked teens?? While I personally pray that the very few that abused children are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, we have just been witness to the most overreaching brutal naked state sanctioned abuse of power in the history of my many years here on this earthwalk. May the innocent recover from the horrible trauma that was visited upon them. While this nation cannot violate a Mosque that is killing our Soldiers from within, we can tear open and defile the Temple of these religious people. ...!!!!!

    June 5, 2008 at 6:41 am |
  2. A. R. Thomas


    You are absolutely right. Thank you for correcting my mistake. I wonder how many of the children will grow up making that delineation in their minds?

    June 5, 2008 at 3:48 am |
  3. KarenD

    On the other blog entry, which has been closed, A. R. Thomas wrote at June 4th, 2008 10:03 am ET:

    "These children were herded and hoarded away from their beds, their schools, and even their families by the United States Government!"

    I don't recall hearing about much if any US government involvement. Texas state government was who took the children away. The two are not the same.

    June 4, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  4. Janna

    Right or wrong, this experience has shown the sheltered FLDS members the genuine caring and concern of the outside world. The courts have also shown them an effort to be fair. The ignorance is waning and that is a step in the right direction.

    June 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  5. Kim in NY

    I am glad the children are home with their parents. That's where they belong. And as far keeping tabs on the FLDS, I believe the state has a right to go in and check up on ANY home-schooled student. They can also require that certain topics are discussed. They may not be able to make the FLDS teach sex ed (which most kids get these days) but they may be able to make sure the students are well read in Texas State Law as well as US Federal Law. That would clear up any confusion without touching on a taboo subject. And if there is any abuse – throw them in jail and toss out the key. I have no patience for such people.

    June 4, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  6. Alex

    Frankly Mr. Jessop, nobody is trying to change you so long as your conduct and those in your sect, conform to the establish laws and accepted behavior of the land. What is unlawful and total unacceptable, is the mistreatment and sexual abuse of children under any conditions. To that exent, you and the people of your group are no different than any other human being in these United States. Live up to your calling as is expected of you, me and other adult or parent to protect those little precious souls. Police your own if need be and make it clear to all. And now live up to what you've said recently in the press, that the men will also leave the under-aged females alone as well. Learn from this mess that no matter who you are or what your religious beliefs may be, the children are off limits to any forms of abuse. Even one vicitm is one too many.

    June 4, 2008 at 11:35 am |
  7. Kent Fitzsimmons,Illinois

    The world wants to change you sir,because it is wrong for old men to prey on young girls. This is far from over, and this will all be revisited in the future. I'm sure they have no idea why their leader is in prison........... even though he was married to a 13 yr old girl..................

    June 4, 2008 at 10:54 am |
  8. John Morris

    If underage marriage and sex was not going on at this ranch, why did Willie Jessop use the press for his own benefit, and now has new policy stating that this would no longer go on. It just proves what true lies the Jessop's are about. I think its a sad day in Texas when the lives of these children are left in the hands of idiots in our legal system. Just goes to prove how in Texas, the laws are made to protect the quilty, and punish the innocent. To the Judges on the Texas Supreme Court, your action on this is terrible, and the lives of these children are on your heads. It would be different if it were your grandchildren being raped and molested. Or just maybe you are into this kind of thing. Welcome to Texas , where pedifiles are home on the range instead of the buffalo these day and times.

    John Morris-–Santa Anna, Texas

    June 4, 2008 at 10:50 am |
  9. Annie Kate

    I'm not surprised the caretakers cried when the children left – it doesn't take long at all to become attached to a child. I'm sure that the mothers are overjoyed though to have their children back.

    Perhaps as this case plays out both sides will become better educated about each other Its probably going to take a lot of time though.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 4, 2008 at 10:17 am |
  10. Cindy

    I am sure that they are all extremely happy to be getting their kids back. But I don't see them changing their religion or their ways just because this whole fiasco happened. I think they will go back to doing the same as they did before.


    June 4, 2008 at 9:39 am |