18 additional FLDS children released from court supervision

Deseret News, Utah/September 12, 2008

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said Thursday it filed 18 nonsuits with a San Angelo judge overseeing the child custody case involving children taken in the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch.

That makes 286 cases that have been nonsuited, said Child Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins. The number includes 26 "disputed minors," whom CPS believed were children but later conceded were adults.

CPS said 439 children were taken into state protective custody during the April raid. The agency recently revised its count, reducing the total number by one, based on more accurate numbers as the nation's largest child custody case drags on.

A nonsuit ends court jurisdiction over the child, freeing the families from court orders such as parenting classes, availability for CPS investigators and a requirement to remain in Texas. However, CPS has said in many cases they could still have some level of involvement with the families.

Hundreds of children were placed in state custody when law enforcement and CPS caseworkers responded to the Utah-based polygamous sect's Eldorado property, based on a phone call alleging abuse and neglect.

The 439 children were returned to their families two months later after a pair of Texas courts ruled the state acted improperly. Only one girl, a 14-year-old alleged to have been married to FLDS leader Warren Jeffs at age 12, has been returned to foster care after a judge ruled her mother was unable to protect her from abuse.

Six FLDS members, including Jeffs, have been indicted by a grand jury on charges ranging from sexual assault to bigamy to failure to report child abuse.

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