Sect doctor silent on abuse question

Scripps Howard News/April 28, 2008

San Angelo, Texas - Here's what's known about Dr. Lloyd H. Barlow:

He's licensed to practice medicine in Utah, in Arizona and - since June 2005 - in Texas.

He has no disciplinary actions against him in the states in which he's licensed to practice.

He operates a medical clinic at the YFZ Ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the polygamist compound raided by Texas authorities beginning April 3.

What's not yet known is whether he has any knowledge that could deny or confirm allegations of widespread forced marriage and sexual abuse of children at the ranch.

"There are certainly many allegations that are floating around," the family practice physician said in a recent phone interview. "And we're reaching out to let the truth be known, but it needs to come through the appropriate channels."

The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners lists Barlow's address as the compound where authorities removed more than 450 children in the raid. Texas Rangers, other law-enforcement officers and Child Protective Services launched investigations after allegations arose of forced underage "marriages" and child sexual abuse at the ranch.

Barlow operates a medical clinic there, said an affidavit submitted by Texas Ranger Sgt. Leslie Brooks Long.

"It is nothing more than what you would expect in a rural town," Barlow said.

Barlow, a sect member, declined to go into detail about medical facilities on the ranch or respond directly to other questions - such as whether he witnessed child abuse - without a lawyer present.

University of Texas family law professor John Sampson said he thinks what's at stake is that a number of young women have been sexually abused.

"The people who stand by and allow that are also guilty of offenses," Sampson said.

A physician has a heightened duty to report suspected child abuse under Texas law, he said. Professionals must report it to authorities within 48 hours.

Anyone who suspects but doesn't report child abuse can be held liable for a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000, according to the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Barlow has no disciplinary actions listed against him in any of the three states in which he's licensed.

The question of whether complaints are filed against a physician with the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, or whether the physician was investigated in the past or is the subject of an open investigation isn't public record, said Jill Wiggins, agency spokeswoman.

Complaints only become public when the state takes action against a physician as a result of a complaint.

In May 1995, Barlow graduated from the University of Utah School of Medicine at Salt Lake City. Then he completed an internship in internal medicine June 23, 1996.

Barlow also served a three-year residency in family-practice medicine at the University of Utah, completed in 1999. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine., a commercial physician-credentialing firm, lists a Hildale, Utah, address for Barlow.

He has practiced in Utah, he said.

The FLDS home base is the "Short Creek" area, including the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

Authorities have thoroughly questioned the FLDS community at the ranch, Barlow said when asked whether Texas Rangers have interviewed him.

"You can know that they came in with a blanket and threw it over everyone," he said. "We just don't know what their true allegations are on an individual basis."

Whatever the accusations are, they don't apply to every sect member, Barlow said.

Child Protective Services officials said they suspect a persistent pattern of child sexual abuse that puts even the youngest YFZ Ranch children in danger of eventually becoming victims or perpetrators.

"It's been a struggle where we're guilty until proven innocent," Barlow said.

The last bus carrying FLDS children to foster care facilities across Texas left the San Angelo Coliseum on Friday. Barlow said he has "met many kind and courteous people" who feel that what the state is doing is wrong, but they can't go against an order from above.

After a massive two-day hearing involving hundreds of lawyers, 51st District Judge Barbara Walther determined the sect children should stay in state custody. She is to conduct individual follow-up hearings regarding custody that must be completed by June 5.

"It's been kind of a struggle to get court time for our lawyers to be heard," Barlow said.

But sect members understand the logistics of the court proceedings, he said.

Barlow expressed gratitude toward doctors, nurses, technicians and other members of the medical community in Eldorado, San Angelo and elsewhere whom he has encountered.

"I have been touched with their kindness long before this issue," he said. "Medical care is not just what they do to you but how they approach it."

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