Over the last week, the Texas Child Protective Services removed more than 400 children from a religious compound at the Yearning for Zion ranch in rural Schleicher County. The ranch is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Latter-day Saints, an unsanctioned Mormon sect that practices polygamy. After the agency “determined that an immediate danger exists to the physical health and safety of the children who are residents of the YFZ Ranch,” it filed an affidavit (below and the following five pages) in state court to permit the rescue of a teenage mother from the 1,700-acre property.
The raid was conducted in response to telephone calls on March 29 and 30 by a teenager who told child-safety and shelter workers that she and her 8-month-old infant were virtual prisoners inside the sect grounds. (“She was being held against her will … and church members have told her that if she tried to leave she will be found and locked up”; see Page 3.) The girl described many beatings she had endured from the decades-older man to whom she was “spiritually married,” who “was also married to several other women” (Page 2). She “also indicated she is several weeks pregnant” (Page 3). At the end of one conversation, the frightened caller “began crying and then stated that she is happy and fine and does not want to get in trouble and that everything she had previously said should be forgotten” (Page 4). Although hundreds of other young girls, many of them pregnant, have now been taken into child custody, Texas authorities have so far not located the girl who called for help.
The religious group claims the search was unconstitutional.
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