Raid on sect cost Texas child agency $12 million

The Associated Press/November 21, 2008

Salt Lake City - The raid of a polygamist sect's Texas ranch cost child welfare authorities $12.4 million in overtime, transportation and shelter costs, according to newly released figures.

Three-quarters of the cost, $9.1 million, came in the first few weeks after the April 3 raid at a West Texas ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. State officials racked up overtime and transportation costs traveling to the remote ranch and housed more than 430 children and more than 100 mothers at sites in San Angelo.

The state spent another $3.3 million after the children were moved to foster care under an order signed by Texas District Judge Barbara Walther. That order was overturned by an appellate and the state Supreme Court less than two months after the raid.

The children, part of one of the largest custody cases in U.S. history, were returned to their parents in early June. Only one girl has returned to foster care, and all but three dozen children have been dropped from state oversight.

The accounting of expenses following the raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, was reported in a copyrighted story Friday by the Deseret News.

The $12.4 million does not include the costs associated with the remaining cases, said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for Child Protective Services.

It doesn't include court costs either. Last week, Walther signed an order authorizing payments to hundreds of attorneys recruited to represent the children. The judge set a cap of $4,000 for hourly billing and $750 for travel and expenses.

Texas' Health and Human Services Commission will pay those bills with funding from the state Legislature.

The FLDS, which believe polygamy brings glorification in heaven, is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

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