Some Thoughts on the FLDS

I noticed that among the various LDS blogs the main one discussing the FLDS situation in Texas is Messenger and Advocate. There the coverage of Texas has been uniformly negative. While I can understand being upset at some of Texas’ actions I think perhaps the other side ought be pointed out as well.

For one we need to remember that one of the main reasons the FLDS set up the Texas compound was because Utah authorities were going after the FLDS using more restrained methods. They were seeking DNA samples and warrants against many men for underage marriages of the sort that have been discussed. (I’d hope those being too swayed by some of Guy’s posts at M&A check out the interview this morning with Mark Shurtleff at Radio West — he confirmed this) Also remember that the former FLDS President, Warren Jeffs, was found guilty as an accomplice to rape for precisely the charges made about the FLDS compound in Texas. Likewise there have been many, many charges of this sort made against the FLDS.

Utah and Arizona have taken as a policy of treating each case individually. But even Mark Shurtleff acknowledges that this is a widespread behavior by the FLDS. It seems very reasonable to assume that this was done with institutional intentionally and was systematic.

Regarding the raid. Mark Shurtleff noted that when the FLDS fled Utah to Texas one of the things they did was destroy all birth records. Now why would you do that if there wasn’t underage marriage going on? Let’s be honest here.

Now I’m not saying whether Texas has or hasn’t abused the public trust and violated the constitution. I’m simply not an attorney but I’m skeptical, given the paucity of data, that we know one way or the other. Plus it has been my experience that what individuals say the constitution entails and what the courts say the constitution entail often are at odds. Also note that Texas laws and Utah/Arizona laws are different. So just because something wasn’t legal here says little about whether it is legal in Texas.

If Texas has gone too far I’d certainly encourage going after the authorities legally. Police excess is a problem in the United States and I think it the duty of Americans to question raids by the Police with questionable evidence or which go too far. I’m not at all convinced that this was the case in Texas.

People are saying, for example, that Texas lied to the FLDS mothers when they took their children away today. Yet, let’s be very clear. We don’t know what evidence the police gathered or what they learned in questioning. Further it appears to me that there are very convincing reasons to believe that at least some women at the FLDS compound were underage and lying about their ages. (Shurtleff’s comments certainly indicate that)

Now there are reasons to believe that Texas’ strategy wasn’t the wisest. (The RadioWest show that should be available this evening as a podcast is about parallels to the Short Creek raid in the 1950′s) However let’s ignore all the legal questions for a moment and ask what we can reasonably infer.

1. We have a religion in which the leadership knowing State laws were making arranged marriages of young women to older men. This is established and beyond doubt.

2. We have a religion where a large group being pursued legally in Utah fled to Texas which had younger ages for statutory rape laws and before leaving destroyed age records.

3. We have a religion where a large group fled Utah before DNA samples could be connected to establish sufficient for prosecution charges of statutory rape.

4. We have people who have left this religion claiming that underage marriages were widespread.

Now does the state have a duty to ensure that young women between the ages of 14 – 17 not be raped if they have strong reasons to believe it is happening? Note that we are not talking about criminal prosecution but rather the protection of children.

If the families in this community all knew what was going on with underage marriages, acted as accomplices and were protecting the guilty, what does that say about the state duty to their own children? What does that say about the environment they were being raised in?

Please note I’m not justifying everything Texas did. And the horrible state of foster care throughout the United States but particularly in Texas certainly makes a cost/benefit analysis complex. But let’s be honest here. The FLDS are not simply misunderstood. There is a reason their former Prophet is in jail. There is a reason they fled Utah and it wasn’t merely religious persecution. It was a fundamental disagreement over what ought be allowable sexually with regards to underage women.

47 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on the FLDS

  1. Clark, I think you make some excellent points. I hope Guy comes here to comment, because I agree with his post as well. It would be interesting to see the areas where you agree and disagree. I hope the dialog can be positive.

    I guess my main feeling in all this is that the Texas authorities overreacted. We as a society need to be extremely careful with allowing government to come in and separate children from their parents. Such an action can cause irreparable damage to the children and horrible emotional pain for the parents.

    I actually think court intervention and the judicial system may do a good job in sorting this all out. I hope the parents who had their children taken from them sue the state of Texas, and I’m pretty sure some of them will win damages. Hopefully a precedent will be set that will prevent state “child protective” agencies from turning fascist, which is basically what I think happened here.

  2. Clark,
    I said some of this, more or less, on Guy’s thread too. Here are my two objections to your argument:

    1) We can’t get away from the law. We don’t know all of the truth–there are serious allegations, but they are largely made by people who have dissociated with the FLDS. That’s not to say that they’re lying, but we can’t know in advance of gathering the evidence, and evidence-gathering must be done in accordance with the law, both for practical and for fairness reasons.

    2) Warrem Jeffs may well have sexually abused his nephew. And if he did, he should certainly be prosecuted for so doing. (So far, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t been.) A 16-year-old girl says, in essence, she’s been statutorially raped. That needs to be investigated and, if there’s sufficient evidence, prosecuted. There are likely others in the same situation, and it, too should be prosecuted.

    But I don’t see where the state has the right to assume that, because I associate with a group and members of that group do bad things, I do to. (It’s worth noting that in the 1890s, the state of Idaho disenfranchised, not just polygamists, but people who belonged to a church that taught polygamy. There’s at least one case upholding the disenfranchisement of men who swore that they were monogomists and did not believe in polygamy. It was wrong then, and it is now.)

    Having read through the affidavits that the searches were based on, they seem insufficient to support the level of activity the Texas has performed. Yes, the FLDS are secretive, and maybe they even destroyed birth certificates, but neither is against the law. Lawbreakers should certainly be prosecuted, but we don’t (or at least shouldn’t) do guilt by association, without a much stronger connection, here.

  3. Sam, all I would ask is if you are making a distinction between investigation by family services regarding abuse and investigation by police for criminal prosecution. There is a big difference and if there’s one thing I get frustrated about over at M&A it is in their not making that distinction. The level of proof to come in and interview children (typically in private) about abuse is much lower than in criminal cases. It’s that way everywhere.

    Likewise let us say a call was made to authorities by a minor claiming to be raped by her stepfather. They get there and in interviewing the children find out there is real abuse going on but that the call in question wasn’t legitimate. Would they be justified taking the children away?

    But I don’t see where the state has the right to assume that, because I associate with a group and members of that group do bad things, I do to.

    But of course they have the right to do this. That’s what forms the basis of investigation. What they don’t have the right to do is to take away your civil liberties without due process and sufficient proof. (i.e. a court case) It is not at all clear to me that due process has not been followed by Texas authorities. Certainly there is a planned court hearing this Thursday.

    I’d just point out that if you look at how the FBI managed to largely break the Mafia in the United States between the years of 1960 and 2000 it was by assuming that folks associating with the mafia were dirty and then seeking to obtain sufficient information to prove it. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

  4. Mark Shurtleff noted that when the FLDS fled Utah to Texas one of the things they did was destroy all birth records.

    This is an example of the fantastical claims that are made about the FLDS. I hope Shurtliff didn’t say this; I hope it’s your paraphrase of a misunderstood statement (I can’t listen to the broadcast where I am at the moment).

    The relevant parts of the Utah Code are:

    26-2-5. Birth certificates — Execution and registration requirements.

    (2) For each live birth occurring in the state, a certificate shall be filed with the local registrar for the district in which the birth occurred within ten days following the birth. The certificate shall be registered if it is completed and filed in accordance with this chapter.

    (4) (a) For live births that occur outside a birthing facility, the birth certificate shall be completed and filed by the physician, nurse, midwife, or other person primarily responsible for providing assistance to the mother at the birth. If there is no such person, either the presumed or declarant father shall complete and file the certificate. In his absence, the mother shall complete and file the certificate, and in the event of her death or disability, the owner or operator of the premises where the birth occurred shall do so.

    (The rest of the section concerns definitions, and requirements for who fills out the certificate in hospitals, etc.)

    My point: If the FLDS “destroyed birth records,” they were destroying their own private copies of their own private records — they had no access to the records kept by the state. So this is a silly, witch-hunting assertion to make about them.

    Now if they hadn’t filed birth information with the state in the first place, that’s a violation the state can and should pursue. But to wave a bloody shirt and say the FLDS have done something scary by destroying birth certificates before “fleeing” is a little over the top.

  5. Clark,
    I phrased myself poorly. To some extent, I can be a suspect person because of those with whom I associate. Which means that the state can search for and gather evidence. But it can’t violate my rights or take away my freedom without a lot more than just, that’s who I associate with.

    I absolutely agree that Texas could go in and interview the kids. They absolutely could interview the kids away from their parents (actually, I’m not sure of that, but I’ll assume it). And if they found abuse, they could most certainly take kids away. But they didn’t just interview kids, they took them away and have kept them away for how long now?

    My objection, and what I see at M&A, is that the state used a sledgehammer (and one that it is far from clear that they were entitled to use) where a regular hammer and chisel (or something: I don’t really know my tools well enough to make a good analogy) would have been legally and practically better suited. That is, I don’t object to Texas acting, but I do object to how it acted.

  6. The point is Sam that the reason they kept the kids away is because they believe they have probable cause for abuse. They are so confident they are bringing the children individually before a judge on Thursday.

  7. To add, I’m not at all convinced that Texas acted in the wisest manner. The great fear of many is that this will drive the FLDS further underground making future convictions for abuse difficult.

  8. Here’s the relevant quote from Shurtleff.

    …they wouldn’t be in Texas if we hadn’t gone after them here in Utah. Literally we know that for a fact. When we started our investigations and were actually preparing to prosecute a police officer down there for unlawful sex with a 16 year old and bigamy we had meetings. A delegation came up here to talk to me to try and talk me out of it. They put on the PR campaign saying our girls are all given free agency and they get to chose and this is a grey area. And I said it’s not a grey area. It’s against the law and we’re going to come after you. And right after that we now know they went back and had a big meeting and everyone was told to destroy birth records and photos and that the State was coming after them. About from that moment on they started looking, expanding, and not long after that bought the ranch property out there. I’m absolutely certain it’s because they had the lax laws down there. There were those who wanted to continue the practice of child bride marriages and I think went there for that purpose.

    I can’t tell from that what he meant. But presumably the FLDS weren’t reporting births to state officials. (I’ve found claims of that elsewhere including claims of deaths of babies never reported to authorities including pictures of graves) So it would appear that after trying to convince the State to continue to allow statutory rape they went out of their way to destroy anything the state could use to prove it.

  9. Then the state should go after the violation of the duty to report births. That’s the crime, not the destruction of privately kept records, and it isn’t helpful to pretend that private, non-criminal behavior is a crime. That’s hysteria.

    This is a petty, petty point, but illustrative of the way people are willing to believe anything and everything that malice or gossip says about the FLDS. The “claims of deaths of babies never reported to authorities” is pretty well laughed out of the record, at least for the Texas ranch, because the cadaver dogs found nothing but the two known and properly registered graves.

    (Thanks for putting up the relevant text. I am in a library and cannot listen to the audio.)

  10. Ardis is making a great point with the birth records. It’s just part of a way to make them look like criminals, for not actually doing anything criminal. I could go home after work and destroy and copies of birth records and photos I have for my children. Even if I put it in a pile and burned it in front of Shurtleff’s office, would anyone care?

    It just seems like a petty, strange thing to bring up to try and make the case that these people are all criminals. If there is abuse, then take care of it, but right now it really seems like Texas is going above and beyond what may be necessary.

  11. I don’t see how it’s a great claim at all. It’s still as I see it confusing issues of criminal conviction from issues of what is justifiable to believe the FLDS were doing. Put an other way, it may well be that O. J. Simpson was found innocent by a criminal court. It doesn’t mean I’m not justified in believing he did it.

    As I’ve said several times now everyone is acting as if events are primarily about a criminal case when that isn’t the prime issue. Further there is the issue of what we can justifiably believe the FLDS are doing in a systematic way and the issue of what the state ought believe in terms of protecting children from sexual abuse. Neither of those necessarily relate to criminal cases.

    Now it certainly is the case that the FLDS could destroy these records. But it’s analogous to me destroying as much financial data as possible prior to a court order being issued for it. In many cases it may be entirely legal to do this. But if there is other evidence suggesting the crime when I then destroy evidence that could convict me of the crime immediately after learning the State is going to seek to convict there is prima facie reason to find that as evidence of guilt.

    The issue of the legality is beside the point.

  12. Ardis, the baby graves were never claimed to be in Texas but in Utah near Colorado City. There are plenty of photos.

    Your point about why Utah hasn’t gone after the FLDS for violations of record keeping is a good one though. It may be simply because it is difficult or because they feel their resources are better spent elsewhere working with abused children.

  13. Clark,

    I know you’ve posted several comments over at M&A. I will respond to you over here on your post, since you’ve incorporated many of the items in your comments here. I just don’t have time to do that right now. I’m busy with some other things at the moment, and I’ve only got internet access on a limited basis, at least during the day over the next few days. Thanks for this post, and your comments over at M&A earlier. I look forward to a discussion with you on some of these issues.

  14. I don’t mind what Texas is doing. Its hard, its tragic but better now than in 10 years or later. We have a culture and ideals that are worthy of protection. If we let these folks get away with polygamy and the consequent inevitable child abuse and welfare abuse we will be putting up with it from Muslims soon enough and it will be a lot worse. It is time to make it painful now. I know we won’t stop it but we can make it painful and keep a hard check on it. Keeping it painful means prosecuting when we find pregnant 14 year olds, making sure that illegal cohabitation means no government jobs, aggressively going after welfare abuse and public financing abuse, and putting legal pressure on their financial organizations by providing legal assistance to people who have been defrauded by these leeches.

    I know I sound cruel but the babies are bawling in Texas because of their parents not because of Texas CPS. If the parents want it to stop they can make it stop.

    Here is my formula for living polygamy for those who really feel conscious bound to it.

    1. Don’t abuse your children!
    2. Don’t abandon your sons!
    3. Give your kids a real choice to leave!
    4. Don’t draw welfare or other state aid!
    5. Don’t abuse the public finance system!
    6. Don’t abuse each others property rights!
    7. Don’t work on the public payroll if you won’t live the laws of the land
    8. File your taxes!

    Given Lawrence vs. Texas I am sure that no one will give a rat’s pitoot what a polygamist does.

  15. All the FLDS had to do to be left alone is say, OK, no marriages until 18. Bingo. All the investigations stop and they are left on their own. What exactly is wrong with that again?

  16. Clark, It isn’t enough. They have to end the welfare abuse, they have to obey the law on wages, they can’t hold public sector jobs if they have family members that are on welfare because they cannot or will not support them, they have to quite running their sons off and everyone needs a way out and the rights to their property. They also have to end the incest no matter if there is consent.

    In such a system a few men would have two “wives”, many would have just one.

  17. Aloysius, I disagree. One deadbeat dad with a string of women who have his kids all of whom are on welfare is an unfortunately all too common situation in America. (Well, the welfare reform Clinton put forth helped a lot – but the cases I saw before such reform was revolting) It’s hardly fair to chastise FLDS here and let all the purported ‘monogamous’ guys with strings of kids alone.

    Incest is of course evil but I see no evidence that is systematic among the FLDS although it was in some other groups like I believe the Kingston group.

    The point about whether polygamy could survive if men had to pay for all their wives and children is a good one though. There is a lot of government subsidies on many of these groups. But to be fair there are also groups with successful businesses who don’t collect welfare.

  18. I haven’t met anyone in favor of 14-year-olds being impregnated by older men. But when are the Texas Rangers going to raid the Dallas inner-city homes of pregnant 14-year-olds and cart off the other children, who might be subject to similar abuse? And when will they shutter the Planned Parenthood locations which refuse to report statutory rape of 14-year-olds by men in their twenties? Why isn’t there equal treatment under Texas’ law?

  19. Clark said:

    “All the FLDS had to do to be left alone is say, OK, no marriages until 18. Bingo. All the investigations stop and they are left on their own. What exactly is wrong with that again?”

    I agree with you 100% on this Clark. I would like very much to see the FLDS take this approach. It is infinitely the better one.

  20. Clark:

    I am among those raising their voices against the actions of the State of Texas over at M&A.

    And yet, I agree with the substantive points that aloysiusmiller makes against the FLDS practice of polygamy above.

    Do you see how those are not contradictory stances? You know that I am a lawyer — granted, not a criminal or constitutional lawyer by any means. I hope you have been able to discern that my comments at M&A have focused on the apparent violations of due process that have occurred in this situation as Texas took all of the children from the entire village (400+ children) on the strength of one — maybe a few — specific allegations of abuse against specific individuals and the allegations made by a former FLDS “informant” who has had the ear of the local sheriff for the last couple of years.

    With regard to Guy’s coverage on Texas lying when separating the mothers from their children, I believe that relates to Texas’ actions yesterday or the day before when they said that the group would be moved to larger facilities, apparently telling neither the media nor the mothers that what they meant was that the children were being moved from the Fort to the Coliseum and the mothers were not coming along.

    But at the same time that I raise my voice in favor of due process, sufficiency of evidence, etc., I have also actually stated straightforwardly that I believe that these kids would be better off, have a better life, being raised in a Baptist family or an atheist family or any normal family than in the FLDS compound. But here’s the rub: I don’t believe that I or the government can or should be able to enforce my opinion of what’s right and normal on a different culture. Specific allegations of abuse should be followed up and remedied but wholesale erasure of a culture through removal and relocation of children from that culture to another culture should not be countenanced.

  21. There is no chance for due process when some reasonable size group declares a culture war on you. The resources to allow due process become crippling to any political entity that is so attacked. Texas hasn’t crossed any lines in my opinion.

    Due process implies a largely self governing society.

    I hate to see it come to this because my arguments can be turned against me by some future government that decides that my religion is “homophobic” or something else. Our culture is breaking down when it comes to this.

  22. If we let these folks get away with polygamy and the consequent inevitable child abuse and welfare abuse we will be putting up with it from Muslims soon enough and it will be a lot worse.

    Umm, yeah. Those Muslims, noted for their abuse of both welfare and children.

  23. As the son of a mother who married at 17, I get tired of the antipathy so many express freely against young people marrying. In my ward currently is a woman who married her returned missionary husband in the temple during her senior year of high school, and a dozen years later they’re a fine family. She had some difficulty their first year, though, with her new sisters of the Relief Society who were worried about her “bad example” spreading to their daughters.

    At any rate, it’s not all Buddy Ebsen and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

  24. “Utah and Arizona have taken as a policy of treating each case individually. But even Mark Shurtleff acknowledges that this is a widespread behavior by the FLDS.”

    I am sorry but I thought we were all entitled to be treated individually under the law. I didn’t know it was okay to condemn large groups and deny them their individual rights because some members allegedly did something wrong. This is a great precedent to set because any group any of us belongs to could be next. I hope no one who is for this way of thinking belongs to any group that is not of the mainstream.

    One of the comments stated, “We have a culture and ideals that are worthy of protection.”
    Well I’m glad someone thinks that because every time I turn on the TV or go to Wal-Mart I think about how much I hate this country’s trashy culture and ideals. Of course I do not condone anything bad that might have happened to the children in that compound but I admire people who have the courage to so totally shun the decaying, immoral society we so happily swim in every day.

  25. The tone here is defeatist. The entire culture is skanky so why not have 50 year old men raping their nieces.

  26. Peter LLC: “Umm, yeah. Those Muslims, noted for their abuse of both welfare and children.”

    Maybe not welfare, but your sarcasm here tells me you haven’t done a lot of looking into Islamic doctrines- specifically those regarding the rights of women and children and their status relative to their husbands and fathers.

    And aloysiusmiller, on your last point- exactly. Nail on the head, bruddah.

  27. Tossman,

    Responding with sarcasm to such idiotic statements about Muslims is practically charitable.

  28. Once again let’s state the facts.

    1. A call came in (not anonymous as some have claimed) saying she was being physically and sexually abused and was unable to leave. In that case the state had to act.

    2. The state came in prepared for the worse. (Is that wrong – being prepared? According to some it is.)

    3. The original caller couldn’t be found. That may mean the call was fraudulent but it doesn’t mean the call was anonymous nor does it mean the state didn’t have to act.

    4. During interviews Texas collected unknown evidence. (Seriously, we don’t know what evidence they have, all speculations to the contrary)

    5. After their initial investigation they get permission from the court to remove all children.

    6. Due process is being followed and the children will have individual hearings on Thursday.

    Now there’s so much FUD spread by some it’s not funny. Might it be the case that Texas acted improperly? Yes. Is there evidence they acted improperly? No. Let’s look at some of the more extreme claims in the comments above.

    But when are the Texas Rangers going to raid the Dallas inner-city homes of pregnant 14-year-olds and cart off the other children, who might be subject to similar abuse?

    Note though that Texas is not claiming that they carted off the children merely because there were some pregnant 14 year olds. Rather it was because of charges of (a) systematic rape (b) forced marriages and (c) physical abuse. So the analogy has absolutely zero in common with the situation in the FLDS compound.

    If there are some other places where 14 year olds are being sexual abused with the consent and backing of the community then yes, I hope they do take their kids away regardless of the nature of the community.

    Do you see how those are not contradictory stances?

    Of course I recognize that one can oppose the FLDS and inappropriate government action. Just as I oppose some extreme SWAT raids on the war on drugs even while opposing the Columbian drug cartels. However, once again to reiterate, no one has provided evidence of Texas authorities acting improperly. If they did I’ll join in the condemnations of them. However those condemning them now are doing so without evidence.

    I hope you have been able to discern that my comments at M&A have focused on the apparent violations of due process

    Except they haven’t noted any due process violations. Once again to repeat. Everyone agrees Texas was legally justified to enter the compound and interview people. But no one knows what evidence they collected during the interviews. Legally if they find evidence during the legally authorized search of some other crime or, for FPS, of abuse, then they can act on that. Further every step of the way Texas has collected court orders and, this Thurday, is having court appearances with attorneys for the children. Please tell me, where is the lack of due process again?

    The whole “no due process” argument rests entirely on the presupposition that Texas has no evidence. And people known this because…

    There is no chance for due process when some reasonable size group declares a culture war on you.

    And you say this because? Let’s say there is a culture war in the United States between secularists and religiously conservative people. Are you saying that no Mormon living in New York has any hope of due process? Really? Honestly???

    I am sorry but I thought we were all entitled to be treated individually under the law. I didn’t know it was okay to condemn large groups and deny them their individual rights because some members allegedly did something wrong.

    We are entitled to be treated under the law. However no one has had individual rights removed because some members allegedly did something wrong. At least this has not been established.

    Once again if there were women being forced into marriages and if they were being held against their will and if the community members knew they are then accessories to rape. Now perhaps Texas can’t prove this. But thus far we don’t know what evidence Texas has.

  29. Peter LLC, if you think widespread abuse of all kinds isn’t inordinately characteristic of Muslim communities, I’ve got some beachfront property in Kanab to sell you. I have no intention of hijacking Clark’s thread, and I won’t. But you’ll find yourself ill prepared for a debate with me on this subject, my friend.

  30. Peter LLC,

    While I agree that most normative Muslims would never abuse their children, I also think that strapping an IED on your kid for “martyrdom” certainly qualifies as abuse!

  31. Muslim abuse of the welfare system in France, Belgium and England is notorious. Increasingly the abuse is aimed at gaining financial support for underage polygamous wives. Don’t think it won’t happen here? Don’t put your head where it was never designed to go. You may hate the sound of this but the white man’s burden is the ending of slavery and polygamy. We can’t end it elsewhere if we won’t end it here. And why end it? Because the long term consequences are horrific for all of society.

    Yes I am a Mormon and I have (a few) polygamous ancestors (mostly serially). I am not ashamed of our past but it mustn’t be a part of our future even from the outside.

  32. the white man’s burden is the ending of slavery and polygamy.

    Yes if you start googling Mormons you can find out all sorts of great things.

    And I do not know about you but the White Man’s burden appears to mostly be to create problems for themselves. Lets not kid, white men funded and upheld slavery for a lot longer than they stopped. The Burden, is self inflicted.

    Plus I am always amazed at how quickly we resort to assuming the worst about people in a very Anti-Mormon type manner when they are not us. It is an ugly thing no matter who is putting for false information.

    Now, I am willing to agree with Clark, because most of what I heard has not mentioned that they went in first investigating before calling in the arrests.

    My concern here is the media coverage, saying these people are crazy, some hair on a bed is now a MARRIAGE BED, or saying the kids are all better playing kick ball or that they never have seen toys or crayons before.

    It is the perception being put off that will not allow someone to have non-mainstream protestant religion which bothers me. The idea that a community that avoids the rest of the world are automatically evil.

    I reserve judgment on the Texas Rangers and police to see what justification they have. I do have a problem however with what at this point appears to be a heavy handed action based on an report which could have possibly (and I am not saying they did but anything can happen) been done by an Anti-FLDS faction wanting to get some action from the Texas police.

  33. I agree that “white man’s burden” is silly at best (and at worst something quite unappealing to say the least)

    I have intentionally not watched the TV. I’d put it on once and they were conflating Mormons and FLDS. TV news is, in general, so universally bad I’m surprised anyone bothers watching.

  34. This is pretty scary.

    Asked about the Sarah who called the shelter, the girls said they didn’t know which one she was among several Sarahs on the ranch, Voss said. Later, though, some of the girls said they knew the Sarah investigators were seeking, but hadn’t seen her for about a week.

    Let’s hope that it was a fraudulent call and not someone who has been kidnapped or worse.

  35. Good blog and string of comments to go along with it.

    Couple thought before I respond to Clarks post;

    1. Why was the FBI involved so quickly?

    2. Could the YFZ WANT a bigamy charge[s] in the state that has to allow men (not limit on number) to do as they please behind closed doors?

    Now on what we learned about Sarah today;

    FLDS men met them at the ranch gate, where the investigators asked about the girl… men shook their heads and said she wasn’t there, Voss said; or

    “We learned that a few of the girls know of the Sarah we were looking for and that she’d been seen last week and she had a baby,” Vause said.; or

    According to testimony, the CPS investigator began to find 16-year-old mothers with small children…; or

    The investigators learn that one Sarah who has been at the ranch is 16 and has a baby, the supervisor said; or

    from the bishop’s papers… a 28-year-old man is “married” to a 16-year-old girl, and they have a son; or

    When the state asked how many “Sarahs” were identified, Vause said there were five and three of those could have been the Sarah they were seeking; or

    Officials have said they do not know if Sarah is in state custody. Court documents say the girl spoke of becoming the seventh wife of a 50-year-old man named “Dale””… with the last name added in the next sentence of that affidavit!!!!!!!

  36. This is what I wrote over at today’s M&A post which summarized the state of things so far, including strong evidence that the original call was a prank. (Thank heavens that the call wasn’t legitimate – yes it was a horrible thing to do. But imagine the situation if it were true.)

    Voss is looking very, very bad. I said it evidence came out of Texan malfeasance I’d join the chorus attacking them. If that’s the best they can do then consider me singing with the chorus.

    I still stand by my statement that people were leaping to judgment. But now that the facts are coming out Texas is looking very, very bad. The AG should lose his job over this not to mention Voss.

  37. Clark, some interesting developments. Taking a step back from this and looking at the original concerns, I think there are a couple of points that bear consideration.

    –Clearly some of the things that were going on in the FLDS are apparently horrible by most moral standards, and you were right to remind people of those things.
    –But Guy’s point — and I think this is even more true now — is that unchecked government intrusion into familial relationships is a very big concern.

    The bottom line is that the way that Utah and AZ were dealing with the problem showed understanding that the state should be very careful in how it involves itself in familial relationships. Yes, abuse should be investigated. But the ham-handed approach by the Texas authorities is shocking and a horrible precedent of government abuse.

    I think we need to remind ourselves that the likelihood that we personally could ever suffer because of FLDS abuse is minimal. However, the possibility that some overbearing government official could decide somehow to insert himself into our family lives is increasing. All you need is an anonymous (erroneous) complaint, and the storm troopers are breaking down your doors and carting off your children. That is truly scary.

  38. Note Geoff I’ve long raised the fear about government over-action. I’ve lambasted the move to paramilitary operations for serving warrants even when there’s no call, for instance. The militarization of the police in America, largely due to the incompetence in the war on drugs, is disgraceful.

    Now that we finally are getting some facts out about what happened here I agree Texas vastly overstepped things.

    But let’s be honest. If someone calls up screaming they’ve been kidnapped to 911 do you really think the police aren’t going to go to that address prepared? One big scandal here is the abuse by the prankster. Anyone can create a prank that the police would be gravely amiss if they didn’t take seriously.

    So while I understand your concern there, realize that it is inherently a problem in any system. Lies can cause great harm. that’s why due process is so important. What bothered (and bothers) me is the claim there was no due process. It seems to me that events yesterday and today, for all their flaws, is showing that there is due process and that the system works.

  39. There have been so many instances where the government stepped in and apprehended children.
    Later the children wrote stories or sued the
    government for the trauma that they received.
    Native children in North America, Aboriginal children in Australia, Doukobor children in B.C.
    I would think that history has already taught us
    that this is not the way to make change.

  40. Clark,
    Just FYI to add to that “fear about government”;

    - Calls on 3/29 & 30 produced an emergency;
    - This emergency was for one person, Sarah;
    - Sheriff Doran has stated he was preparing for 4 years;
    - The populatin at YFZ was estimated to be 1-200;
    - They rounded up a 700 man army for the raid;
    - 4 days later they went in to solve this immediate emergency.

    Now, is Sarah that “someone calls up screaming” that created an emergency?

    One has to wonder WHEN they decided Sarah’s situation was an emergency, if Sarah was THE emergency or if Sarah’s call was the “Probable Cause” Sheriff Doran had been waiting 4 years to get.

  41. Carolyn Jessop’s book Escaped arrived in the mail today. I have been reading it all day. The abuse she endured is entirely predictable in a polygamous marriage. I hope that not one of the children liberated from YFZ hell is ever returned to a polygamous parent.

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