January 12th, 2009
09:51 PM ET

FLDS kids back at the ranch.. they say they are thrilled

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Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

As we drove past the huge white gates at the Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas, we weren’t sure what to expect. The last time we were here was in June of last year when the state of Texas raided the FLDS property and took 462 children and placed them in state custody. Allegations of child brides, sex with minors, and abuse put a spotlight on the FLDS and what was going on inside this ranch. We were allowed in to speak with mothers who were pleading for their children to be returned. It was our first look inside this secretive religion which practices polygamy.

Today we were invited again. We were given a guided tour by one of the church leaders Willie Jessop. He says life here on the ranch is much different that what many people believe. He allowed us to meet and speak with mothers and children who say they were taken from the ranch last year before being returned.

At first, the ranch seemed desolate and the same as it was the last time we visited. As we took our tour we saw more work had been done in fields of crops they say were ruined during the raid. As time passed we began to see women and children outside their homes working and playing in front of their homes.

We came across children who were picking carrots and doing other work around the ranch. All say they are more than thrilled to have been returned to their families and the life they know. Some say that being away from their home and their life as they knew it only strengthened their faith.

Outside the ranch in the Schleicher County courthouse, 10 FLDS men were present today for pretrial motions on their cases involving sexual assault of a minor and other various charges related to underage marriage and bigamy. Their trial dates are scheduled for the fall.

Filed under: Ismael Estrada • Polygamy • Raw Politics
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Kmj

    In retrospect I think SOME of these people were ill served by what happened in the mass taking of the children. They seem healthy and happy. What should NOT be allowed to continue is the "marriage" of girls under 18 and kicking boys out because they compete with the older men. Prosecute those breaking the law and leave the rest to enjoy their lives as they see fit.

    January 13, 2009 at 1:03 am |
  2. Lisa - Vic, Australia

    How do they expect to prosecute when the witnesses are children and this is the only life they have known?

    This investigation and subsequent raid has been botched from the start, the prosecution will have to have all their ducks in a row before they go to court.

    I would be very surprised if anything results from this, at best it will just push these practices further underground, and further increase the children's indoctrination regarding "outsiders" and keeping the inside secrets.

    January 13, 2009 at 12:58 am |
  3. sandra whitlock

    im thrilled for the mothers.god will not honor the famlie that is sleeping with more then one women.these people will go to hell if they don't stop with this nonsence.i was born a mormon and raised with mormons.there good works and sharing there husband will NOT get them to heaven.they have such good famlie valuses.but that WON'T get them to heaven.they need to repent for what they are doing.every women that is married to a man withe 7 wives,all but the first wife is a slut and an adulter.if they want to get to heaven, this isen't the way to do it.

    January 13, 2009 at 12:17 am |
  4. Brandon

    Glad to see the kids returned home to their parents. i would like to cps take an interest in entertainers children. why havent they torn down the doors of Britney Spears or better yet Michael Jackson. Next time i hope cps puts their personal differences aside and only iterfere when a child is really being abused.

    January 13, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  5. Rachelle

    I would like to know if there are polygamy cases of a wife having multiple husbands? Is there a religion that supports that?

    January 12, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Its too bad the FLDS won't voluntarily give up polygamy and phase it out with the upcoming generation. Enforcing underage laws is going to be hard in that compound and sect and will be painful for both children and parents. At least now though the FLDS are talking to reporters so we can hear their side of their story and not just the state side. Hopefully, we will see that the community is telling the truth about "most" marriages being with girls of legal age and willing consent.

    January 12, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  7. Chris

    The fleecing of America. Mad man madoff made off with greedy individuals money. All these folks were trying to make a fast buck and got caught up in the fleecing of this great country.

    January 12, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  8. Rachelle


    I would like to know why is only the polygamist arrested? Why aren't their partners arrested for aiding and abetting? The polygamist and their partners all know they are entering into something illegal.

    January 12, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  9. Chris

    I really feel sorry for President Bush. I think he was a little naive about the economy and the Catrina. He is actually a good guy but is a little aloof.

    January 12, 2009 at 11:15 pm |