Child Protective Services has one duty — to protect children. When we see evidence that children have been sexually abused and remain at risk of further abuse, we will act.
The Department of Family and Protective Services removed children from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado after finding a pervasive pattern of sexual abuse that puts every child at the ranch at risk.
The very first interviews at the ranch revealed a pattern of underage girls being “spiritually united” with older men and having children with the men. Investigators also observed a pattern of organized deception in those first interviews.
Women and children frequently said they could not answer questions about the ages of girls or family relationships. Children were moved from location to location in an apparent attempt to prevent investigators from talking to them. Investigators observed numerous girls who had small children, and girls told us that marriages could occur at any age.
An examination of evidence found at the ranch further confirmed the pervasive pattern of sexual abuse. A Bishop’s Record detailing family relationships listed 13 girls who were ages 16 and 17, including nine living at the YFZ Ranch. All nine of the girls living at the ranch were listed as wives in the document, which was entered into evidence during the 14-day hearing in San Angelo.
While our only duty is to the children, we respect that the court’s responsibility and view is much broader. We will work with the Office of Attorney General to determine the state’s next steps in this case.
For all other information on the Eldorado situation, please visit our Eldorado Information home page
May 22, 2008