Texas authorities are asking parents from a polygamous sect to send daughters ages 10 to 17 to counseling sessions designed to teach them about sexual abuse and marriage laws.
The individual “therapeutic education” sessions are being offered to 63 girls who were among 439 children at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado when it was raided in April. The ranch is home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Counselors, who also conducted parenting classes for FLDS mothers, are providing information on how to identify, prevent and report sexual abuse, said Patrick Crimmins, spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“The goal of the sessions is to educate girls who are at risk, who may already have been sexual abuse victims, and to deal with any emotional issues related to the topic,” he said in an e-mail.
The material is age-appropriate, he added.
Some parents have asked to be allowed to attend with their children and “that is up to the counselor,” Crimmins said.
“If a child does not attend the sessions despite our recommendations, those situations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine if there is any additional action we might take,” he wrote. Those actions might include seeking a court order to require cooperation.
Asked if the department was requiring completion of the course as a condition of dismissing a case, Crimmins said, “Yes, it can be.”
Texas has nonsuited 315 cases to date, which includes 26 women the state initially alleged were minors.