Agency: She was told to ‘cry, pout’
A 14-year-old thought to be the youngest bride of jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was advised through text messages to “please stay angry” and to “keep crying, pout, sleep in” in an attempt to manipulate Texas caseworkers, according to a report filed with a San Angelo court.
The girl is the only one of 439 children taken in last year’s raid of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ranch in Eldorado who remains in foster care.
In a report to state District Judge Barbara Walther, filed Jan. 27 in San Angelo, the girl’s guardian ad-litem reported that a prepaid cell phone was given to the girl by her biological mother, Barbara Jessop.
The foster family notified Texas Department of Child Protective Services that she had the phone and it was confiscated by the agency after several text messages were discovered on it, seemingly coming from the girl’s mother and others.
“Please stay angry,” read one incoming message. “We need you to keep crying, pout, sleep in,” read another. “CPS needs to see that you are miserable there.”
Records seized from the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, including excerpts from Jeffs’ journals, indicate the girl was married to Jeffs when she was 12. Jeffs is the jailed leader of the FLDS, a breakaway Mormon sect that practices polygamy.
Report: Texts coached girl
The girl’s attorney, Valerie Trevino, recommends in the report that 51st District Judge Barbara Walther halt visitation between the girl and her mother, Barbara Jessop, except when monitored by a therapist.
It also recommends barring all phone communication between the two. “CASA is shocked that Mrs. Jessop would place her daughter again in a situation where she would be forced to sneak around to communicate,” the report states. “The text messages telling (the girl) how to behave are disturbing.”
Brett H. Pritchard, the Killeen-based attorney for Jessop, declined to comment on the report. A hearing on whether to seal the report is scheduled for Friday, and a court administrator said it remains under temporary seal until the hearing.
“Come to the hearing on Friday, and you’ll hear all my problems with it,” Pritchard said.
The girl’s court-appointed attorney, Carmen Symes Dusek, of San Angelo, declined to comment.
Child Protective Services investigators allege the girl was married at age 12 to Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in a 2006 ceremony at the sect’s YFZ Ranch in Schleicher County.
The ranch was the focus of a weeklong raid in early April that led to the removal and subsequent return of 439 children in the nation’s largest child-custody case.
The girl was returned to state custody in August on the strength of evidence that included the sect’s own documents and photos showing Jeffs kissing the girl deeply soon after their alleged wedding.
The report is the latest in a series of struggles CPS and CASA have reported in their efforts to ensure compliance with court-ordered restrictions on visitation and telephone contact between the girl and sect members beyond her mother and siblings.
It notes the text messages were particularly harmful because they encouraged the girl to lie even though an “aspect of the FLDS culture is to be truthful and honest,” the report states, citing the girl’s therapist.