June 2, 2008
A judge on Monday signed an order allowing more than 440 children seized from a polygamist sect to be returned to the custody of their parents. This came following a ruling in May when the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that officials erred in removing the children from the ranch, effectively overturning Walther’s ruling that the children remain in state custody.
The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday let stand the lower court’s ruling that the state had no right to remove them during an April raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch near Eldorado. As a result, Judge Barbara Walther of Texas told the Department of Family and Protective Services to allow parents to pick up their children starting at 10 a.m. Monday morning. The court made it clear that under the judge’s order, the Department of Family and Protective Services will still have the right to visit and interview the children. Those visits, which will be unannounced, could entail medical, psychological and psychiatric examinations, and the parents will not be allowed to intervene.
Also under the order, the parents must attend and complete parenting classes. The families must remain in the state of Texas and notify the department within 48 hours of any trips more than 100 miles from their homes. the only real travel some parents may do will be in the state, as some parents’ children are being kept at different facilities across the state, and it could take some time to pick up their kids.
“The kids have been terrorized and put in the custody of the state for weeks and weeks,” FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said Friday after a hearing to determine how to return the children.
“Every effort has been made to bring relief,” Jessop said outside the courthouse. “It doesn’t need to be a problem to go pick up the kids. It doesn’t need to be any more difficult than picking them up after school.”
May 28, 2008
Pictures showing the leader of a polygamist sect kissing a girl who appears to be a minor have been introduced into evidence in the legal battle over the more than 400 children from the ranch in El Dorado, Texas. The pictures seem to show Warren Jeffs, the now jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with two females who appear to be under 18. In both sets of photos, Jeffs and the females are kissing. One of the sets was found to be labeled “January 26, 2005 – First Anniversary.”
More on this story as it unfolds.
May 21, 2008
As previously reported by iNPLACENEWS, Wayne Bent aka Michael Travesser, the leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church in New Mexico, was arrested for suspected sex crimes against underage girls in his cult. Now, he had been indicted on two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
This indictment differs from when he was initially charged in magistrate court with crimes against three girls who previously lived on the church’s compound in a remote area near the Colorado line.
District Attorney Donald Gallegos said he made the decision to pursue indictments in district court to avoid an open preliminary hearing in magistrate court in which the girls could have been subjected to cross-examination by the defense attorney.
The original story can be found here
The follow-up to the original can be found here
May 13, 2008
This is not the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ ranchthat was raided last month in Eldorado after receiving reports that underage girls were being forced to marry much older men. Instead, this is the House of Yahweh, a much darker sect that the state has been investigating for quite a long time. In February, the group’s 73-year-old leader, Yisrayl Hawkins, was charged with performing polygamous weddings and forcing about 40 children — some as young as 11 — to work at his 44-acre compound found behind guarded, ornate gates at the end of a rural road.
May 6, 2008
New Mexico state police say they’ve arrested the leader of an apocalyptic church Wayne Bent on sex charges. Also known as Michael Travesser, 66-year-old Wayne Bent was picked up without incident Tuesday at the remote former ranch where he and his followers live, as reported by State police spokesman Peter Olson.The “Messiah” is now facing three charges of criminal sexual contact, stemming from allegations of inappropriate contact between Bent and children at the northeastern New Mexico compound.
Bent has admitted to having sex with his followers.
Officials recently removed two girls and a boy from the compound.
iNPLACENEWS originally posted a story about this here
May 5, 2008
State officials in Clayton, New Mexico have been aware of and investigating an apocalyptic cult, Lord Our Righteousness Church, that supposedly has child-molesting as part of its practices, whether stated or not in its mission statement. Although this is NOT an FLDS branch, it is not unlike the cult in Texas that recently was raided and had hundreds of children taken. A man who goes by Michael Travesser ((his real name is Wayne Bent (the bearded man in the above photo)) says he was anointed the Messiah by God in 2000 had told cult members that he must sleep with seven virgins. Recently, a father, John Sayer, who has two female children in the cult, left the cult after 16 years in hopes of saving hs family. Unfortunately, after their departure, the two girls (ages 14 and 15) returned to the cult. Children, Youth and Families Department got involved after a tip and removed the Sayer’s youngest last week. Two girls and one boy, all under the age of 18, were taken in the state-intervention.
Sayer says that his daughters were asked to just “lay naked” with Micheal, but that anything could have happened. He had continually denied the requests of Michael to make his daughters 2 of the 7 virgins he would sleep with. In a posting on the website for the cult, Michael said that he never had sex with minors nor did the cult involve any kind of molestation, child or adult.
Sounds all too familar these days. Stay tuned.