State alleges baby brought to meeting does not belong to FLDS teenager

YFZ Ranch : Texas officials want girl to undergo psychological test

The Salt Lake Tribune/March 2, 2009

Texas child welfare officials want a 17-year-old FLDS girl to undergo a psychological evaluation because they fear she may have been separated from her baby.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said in a new court filing that genetic tests show a baby the girl brought to a meeting with caseworkers is not hers.

The department asked 51st District Judge Barbara Walther to order the girl to meet with a psychologist because it is concerned for her "emotional welfare" and believes the girl is "being improperly influenced, against her best interest, into making choices to not produce her child and to produce another individual's child."

Walther will consider the department's request at a hearing on Thursday.

The girl gave birth in June while she was still 16. The teenager and one other girl are the only FLDS children who have active lawsuits before the court.

The state has dismissed cases involving 437 other children removed last April from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. The ranch is home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The department said its efforts to observe the girl and her baby have been repeatedly "thwarted," as have its efforts to do a second DNA test and arrange an evaluation for her.

FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said the girl had been traumatized by the raid and feared what the state might do to her baby, concerns she shared with Walther.

The state and attorneys for the girl and her mother agreed in November to a "meet and greet" where caseworkers could observe the infant, not take DNA, he said.

But representatives of the Texas Attorney General's Office also showed up and performed the test.

"We don't know what their motives are but one thing we do know is it's not about protecting [the girl] or her baby," Jessop said.

He also said there have been instances when genetic tests performed on FLDS mothers and children returned false results and had to be repeated.

But Patrick Crimmins, Texas DFPS spokesman, said no genetic tests had to be redone.

"The testing in this particular case was done by law enforcement," Crimmins said. "We believe it to be accurate."

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