FLDS Children Going Back to the Ranch

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

More than 400 children taken out of the FLDS compound in El Dorado could be heading home as early as Monday. 

It's a tentative agreement between Texas authorities and the polygamist sect, after the Texas Supreme Court held up a lower court's rulling that Child Protective Services had no legal ground to take the children from the compound.

Fifteen of the children taken out of the compound have been right here in Midland.

NewsWest 9 spoke with the High Sky Children's Ranch, who says they've been taking care of girls ranging from age 11 to 17. 

They have spent their time baking, gardening, and their favorite, sewing. 

FLDS families say they're ready for the kids to come home.
     
"There has been a catastrophic, physical and emotional trauma to these families, permanent damage that will be left on them for a lifetime," Willie Jessop, an FLDS member, said.

The latest ruling by the Texas Supreme Court put an end to the largest child custody cases in American history. CPS officials said they're dissappointed, but will immediately comply.

"Two wrongs do not make a right and this court has an ability to load these children up and return them to the families," Jessop said.

There are two seperate ongoing investigations. In the custody case, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Child Protective Services overstepped its authority in taking the children from the ranch.

In the second investigation, Texas authorities have collected DNA from the sect leader Warren Jeffs on charges of abuse. The search warrant alleges he "spiritually" married 4 girls ages 12 to 15.

"The FLDS people that I'm acquainted with do not allow their children to be married without a legal age," Jessop said. "We do not understand where this is coming from."

NewsWest 9 also spoke with the Attorney General's Office who has been working on the case since early May.

They say, the child custody hearings will not impact their ongoing criminal investigation.

"At this point, the Office of the Attorney General is engaged in the prosecution of criminal activity that may have occurred, if any at the FLDS compound," Jerry Strickland, Spokesman for the Attorney General, said.  "This would include the allegations of sexual assault of children and any other charges that are filed based on criminal activity and based on the evidence that was recovered from the polygamist compound."

Texas CPS made an agreement with the 38 mothers who filed the complaint to return the children to the ranch. 

They said parents can get their children back after showing identification, pledging to take parenting classes and remain in Texas. 

Right now, High Sky in Midland is on standby, waiting to hear from authorities as to when those children will return to Eldorado.