June 3, 2008
Since the raid on the El Dorado, Texas compound of a polygamist sect of FLDS followers, the Canadian government has been rying to fgure out if they can also pursue legal and criminal actions against another branch of the same Mormon-splinter.
Attorney General Wally Opal called for a special prosecutor to look into allegations of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of girls in the community in Bountiful, British Columbia. He said the issue is whether the criminal code on polygamy is constitutional, which has been a point of contention in British Columbia’s judiciary for 20 years. At the Attorney General’s request, two lawyers recently issued opinions on the matter, both concluding it would be difficult to pursue criminal charges. One said it would be unfair to do so.
Opal picked Vancouver lawyer Terrence Robertson to determine whether the sect can be prosecuted successfully.
More on this story to come.
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 22, 2008
According to ruling by the Appeals Court on Thursday, the state of Texas should not have removed the more than 460 children it took from a polygamist sect’s ranch. In the ruling, the Lone Star State’s 3rd District Court of Appeals decided in favor of 38 women who had appealed the removals and the decision by a district judge that the children will remain in state custody.
“The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department’s witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger,” the appeals court panel said. The state’s Department of Family and Protective Services “did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health or safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty,” the ruling went on to say.
“The legislature has required that there be evidence to support a finding that there is a danger to the physical health or safety of the children in question and that the need for protection is urgent and warrants immediate removal.”
“Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may someday have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal prior to full litigation of the issue.”
Stay tuned for what will follow in this potential child molestation case against the men in the polygamy sect.
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.
April 29, 2008
One of the girls (ages ranging from 14 to 17) taken during the raid on the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) ranch Eldorado, Texas, went into labor under guard of the state. The teenager was one of 463 children taken from the ranch and one of the 53 teenage girls that has either already given birth or had was pregnant. Now, obviously, she is a mother as a teenager. Due to the DNA testing and the large number of children involved, this case will be a very long and dragged out process.
April 28, 2008
Child Protective Services and the Courts handling the issues involving the rights and care for the children taken during the raid on the ranch compound of FLDS have started doing DNA tests and such to determine which fathers have had children with children. They found 31 out of 53 girls either had children or were currently pregnant. The numbers of people involved in this case assure that t wll take a very long time, both tough on the judicial system as well the chldren invlved.