Texas Child Protective Services, the agency that last spring removed 439 children from a polygamist ranch in West Texas because caseworkers suspected child abuse, is refusing to release the findings of their completed abuse investigation to the Houston Chronicle.
On Wednesday, agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins confirmed that the abuse investigation is finished but said the findings would not be released because CPS officials want to release them later in an upcoming report.
The Texas Public Information Act does not provide for an agency to withhold readily available public information unless it meets certain exemptions.
But CPS officials are not claiming these abuse investigation findings meet any exemption and are therefore not subject to release.
The Chronicle’s request does not seek the names of the children, only the sex and the age of each child and whether the agency found a “reason to believe” abuse occurred or that investigators were “unable to determine” any abuse or neglect happened.
The probe into the care of children at an Eldorado ranch belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a breakaway Mormon sect, began last April when a woman claiming to be an abused, underage bride to an FLDS member contacted CPS.
The FLDS children were eventually returned by CPS to their parents and all but 19 children have been removed from a West Texas court’s oversight. The entire episode has cost taxpayers more than $12 million. Since July, a grand jury has indicted 12 FLDS men on charges ranging from failure to report child abuse to sexual assault of a child and bigamy. None of the cases have been scheduled for trial.