TX Appeals Court Invalidates Seizure of Children at Polygamist Compound
There are 48 happy mothers in Texas today:
A Texas appeals court ruled today that state child welfare authorities had no right to seize dozens of children living at the ranch of a polygamist religious sect, saying they were in no immediate danger of abuse.
The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin ruled in favor of 48 mothers seeking the return of more than 130 children who had been living at a ranch near Eldorado, Tex., associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The ruling is here. It directs the trial court to vacate the orders granting custody of the children to Protective Services. The court should act within 10 days. If the Department of Child and Protective Services appeals, it's not clear whether the children will be returned to their parents before the appeal is decided. [More...]
In its nine-page ruling, the 3rd Court of Appeals said the Department of Family and Protective Services had failed to prove that there was any danger to the physical health and safety of the children of 38 mothers, that there was any urgent or immediate need to take custody of the children or that it made any reasonable efforts to avoid the removal. Ten other mothers and their children were covered by a second opinion from the court today, Martinez said.
The ruling harshly criticized the department's rationale for acting in the case and refuted the evidence it presented. It said the only danger identified by the department to the prepubescent children was a "pervasive belief system" at the ranch that the department said groomed boys to be perpetrators of sexual abuse later in life and taught the girls to submit to sexual abuse after reaching puberty.
"There was no evidence that the male children, or the female children who had not reached puberty, were victims of sexual or other physical abuse or in danger of being victims of sexual or other physical abuse," the court said in its opinion.
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