Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Truth About the Abuse of Power - and Children - by Texas Authorities

Brooke Adams at the Salt Lake Tribune has been following the FLDS case in Texas closely. On May 23 while in Texas monitoring the proceedings, she wrote:
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had all the power in the world to structure status hearings held this week in any order it wanted. It kept telling us, the media and the public, that there were 31 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who were pregnant, mothers or both.

Now we know the truth: There are only five girls in that group. All but one are or will be 18 this year. One gave birth when she was 17, three when they were 16. One is pregnant.

I kept asking the state for a breakdown by age of the 31 girls, the 60 percent, it claimed were pregnant or mothers. They refused weeks ago and still haven't done it.

Now we know why.
My favorite former ACLU employee at Grits for Breakfast (who has shown much more courage and integrity in this matter than the ACLU) had this to say:
So we're talking about five teen moms out of 27 teenage girls, not 31 out of 53. But even for those five, said the 3rd Court of Appeals, DFPS did not meet their burden of proof. The court declared that:
there was no evidence regarding the marital status of these girls when they became pregnant or the circumstances under which they became pregnant other than the general allegation that the girls were living in an FLDS community that condoned underage marriage and sex.
So all this hoopla at the end of the day was about five teen moms out of 440 some odd kids. You could go into any community in Texas, I bet, and find the same thing. Not only that CPS presented no evidence about the fathers' age or the girls' marital status upon conception. These data are a far cry, aren't they, from the terrible depictions of abuse CPS portrayed to the press over the last six weeks?
Nearly 500 kids, and now we find that all this hoopla is because five girls had once been or now are pregnant at age sixteen or seventeen. Grits is absolutely right: you can find this almost anywhere. So if your local high school has five girls who have been pregnant under 18, should they and all the kids there and their siblings be yanked away from their parents and sent to foster care? Maybe only if some of the men involved are over 18. Then send in the tanks!

What happens next will be all about avoiding or redirecting blame, with legal chicanery, obstruction, public relations spinning, negotiations behind closed doors, and various power plays. Don't expect many serious apologies. Don't expect the DFPS to work too quickly get anybody back to their parents. Do expect many delays, some heartbreaking cases of kids falling through the cracks, and hundreds of children to continue suffering from a culture of abuse, DFPS style. And expect plenty of religious bigots, including journalists, politicians and media figures, to continue the hysteria and the cruel allegations. If you don't think that some of them would love to send the dogs after us real non-polygamous Mormons, you need to think again. Just how secure are any of you crazy Mormons or crazy Christians of any denomination in your little individual compounds with the children you are indoctrinating with ways so out of synch with the world? Who will stand for you when you want your kids back?

Sadly, I also expect plenty of LDS people, long embarrassed and annoyed by FLDS apostasy and violations of anti-polygamy laws, to continue their "good riddance" attitude about the FLDS mess. Hey, they are US citizens and fellow human beings. Have a little heart for what those young kids are going through and the parents who have had them torn away so cruelly. It's grotesque, and if we don't speak up for them, who will speak up for us when we are next on the list?

12 comments:

Tracy said...

"So all this hoopla at the end of the day was about five teen moms out of 440 some odd kids. You could go into any community in Texas, I bet, and find the same thing."

Actually, that's even lower than what occurs in the average community. I work in a highschool and we had 17 pregnant girls this year out a student body of only
430. Four of them were only 14 years old. It's an inner city school, so maybe those stats are higher than the average highschool. But you also have to consider that those are only the girls that were obviously pregnant and didn't terminate the pregnancy. Nor does that number tell you the number of girls that are having sex-- only the ones that got pregnant.

E said...

I believe you are absolutely right about this case. Thank you for being willing to speak out for the civil rights of people you disagree with. I'm sure many other LDS people would like to try and help in some way, including me.

I have just made a contribution to Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. They are the lawyers who have just won the huge victory for some of the mothers with their appeal. Others can donate at TRLA.org.

gentlyhewstone said...

A few weeks ago I went back and watched Waco: The Rules of Engagment, and was deeply disturbed by the similarities between these raids of Texas compounds.

Remember in 1993 when the federal government gave press conferences and swore up and down that it had evidence that David Koresh was selling drugs and molesting girls left and right?

It turned out there was only ever one allegation of abuse, by a mentally ill young woman whose family all claimed she was lying. And the drugs? Remember the "movie of the week" about the siege that starred Tim Daly as a tripped-out, hippy "sinful Messiah"? Turns out the ATF just made all that up.

And now we have the same thing here. Honestly, I was inclined to give the government the benefit of the doubt at first on this one--after all, those of us who live near the Arizona/Utah border, as I do, know of some of the abuses that have happened there with the FLDS.

But six weeks later there have been no arrests, and the numbers keep changing? Jeff, your pessimistic predictons are probably completely accurate, but I'll add this: look for more cover-ups by the feds and, when their duplicity comes to light, more apathy from mainstream America.

Connor said...

Jeff, thanks for adding your voice to the opposition, especially when there was little to no media support or clarified factual evidence to debunk the allegations of rampant abuse.

The knee-jerk reaction I've witnessed in recent weeks from people, and Mormons specifically, has been heartbreaking.

I wonder what these people actually think of the Golden Rule. Sure, they probably pay lip service to this lesson of lessons, but do they really believe it? Would they think that Texas' actions would be justified if they were in the FLDS' shoes? Hardly.

Talk about a double standard!

jayleenb said...

What I want to see now is those same Baptist buses that were used to remove the children sent to pick them all up from the various Foster homes and return them to the FLDS compound.

Bet we won't hear any apology from the Baptists either.

Bored in Vernal said...

Thank heavens this is such a peaceful people, or it surely would have been another Waco.

I'm still concerned about the fate of these children, especially after hearing about strong connections between the Texas Supreme Court and CPS. See here: Is The TX Supreme Court Deck Already Stacked Against FLDS?.

daveja vu said...

I stand by any statements I made about my unwillingness to offer much support or sympathy for the FLDS and the fact that they brought most of their problems on themselves via the teachings and actions of their "prophet", a convicted felon and sexual predator.

But I also stand by the fact that the FLDS still deserves due process of law, like any other group or individual living in the US, and the Texas CPS authorities WAY overstepped their bounds, and there needs to be changes made to the laws so that children never again are needlessly uprooted from their homes and families again over chintzy evidence.

And I have even less respect for the ACLU. I might have expected them to speak up in this case, but they'd rather spend time and money defending real sicko pedophile groups like NAMBLA.

Doug Forbes said...

I believe that I can say "I told you so" when it comes to the percentage of sexually active under-age girls in the FLDS v the general population. As for the incompetence of the FLDS leadership that is another subject. For now, lets focus on the incompetence, bigotry and intellectual inferiority of the Texas CPS.

The US General population
According to a 2002 report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
5.7% of girls become sexually active before age 14
13.0% before 15
26.8% before 16
43.1% before 17 and
58.0% before 18

About 30% of girls aged 15-17 are sexually active.

31.5% of girls 15-19 use contraception

There were 212,000 teen abortions in 2002.

These figures do not include the 2.7% of teen girls that are married.

One other tid-bit Gov Boggs of Extermanation fame was 20 when first married. His bride was 16.

The FLDS at YFZ ranch

5 girls under 18 are pregnant or have given birth. There are 27 aged 14-17. So at least 18.5% of FLDS girls in that age group were sexually active. That is significantly below the national average. (this is a bit tricky to calculate from available evidence but is roughly ((3*30)+((13+5.7)/2))/4 or (90+9.35)/4 = 24.8375 = ~25%

15 women ,now adults, became pregnant while still minors. Some many years ago.

There are 69 adult women residing at YFZ. That means at least 22% were sexually active before 18. Remember the national average is 58%.

Doug Forbes said...

One more point about under age sex nationwide. The number of sexually active under-age kids has declined. In 2002 30% of girls 15-17 were sexually active. In 1995 it was 38% and teen abortions were 351,000.

Doug Forbes said...

One last word about YFZ.

I am very grateful for the leadership of true prophets like Thomas S Monson, not to mention Wiford Woodruff. The quality of their leadership is demonstrated by contrast in many ways by this mess in Texas.

Likewise the poor quality of leadership in the FLDS is also demonstrated. How easy it would have been for them to insure that 0 minors were pregnant at YFZ (except as the result of disobeient teens which occurs in any society.)

Anonymous said...

Just for the sake of perspective here are some pix of Warren Jeffs with a couple of his brides. Note that one is a 1 year anniversary photo so the girl was younger still when she was married to him:
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0527081flds1.html

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that all the children are back with their mothers. O' yes the lower court judge (joker) is using more trick to hurt these mothers and families. You got to love your country, right Catholic Defender?