Court ends monitoring of most FLDS kids

But 37 children still under watch as investigations of abuse continue

The Houston Chronicle/October 30, 2008

Nearly all of the 439 children taken from their polygamist parents in West Texas have been formally released from court oversight, but a child abuse investigation into their care slowly moves into its seventh month.

So far, lawsuits needed to remove 402 of the children taken last April from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado have been dismissed, leaving 37 children under court oversight.

"It means that CPS can still be involved but there's no reason for an active lawsuit," said Patrick Crimmins, spokesman for Texas Department of Child Protective Services.

Still unanswered is whether children were sexually or physically abused at the ranch belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

So far, 174 of the 200 FLDS parents of the 439 children have completed parenting classes, a condition placed on them by CPS. But it is not known if any of them are parents of the 37 children still monitored by state District Judge Barbara Walther.

Typically, details about child abuse investigations are not released, unless a child has died.

However, CPS officials began informing members of the media in August they would release how many cases resulted in a "reason to believe" finding, the state's version of a confirmation of abuse. But since that time, the results have not been released.

The case continues to proceed in the criminal arena. Grand jurors in Schleicher County have so far indicted nine FLDS men, including jailed leader Warren Jeffs. The men have been charged with bigamy, sexual assault of a child or both.

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