FLDS mother accused of switching babies
Texas child welfare authorities are accusing a 17-year-old girl from the Fundamentalist LDS Church‘s YFZ Ranch of switching babies to avoid having to undergo a DNA test.
In a court filing in San Angelo, Texas, made public on Monday, Child Protective Services urges a judge to cancel a Friday hearing over the girl and order her to undergo a psychological evaluation.
The girl, who was 16 at the time she was taken into state custody during the raid on the YFZ Ranch, gave birth to a baby in June. State officials believe the girl was married at age 14. The girl refused to bring her baby to a November court hearing. At a subsequent meeting between CPS and the girl, lawyers for the agency said she brought a child she claimed to be her baby.
“However, genetic testing proved that the child produced was not (the girl’s) biological child,” CPS attorney John R. Dolezal wrote. “Upon learning of this deception, (CPS) immediately confronted the problem by attempting to set up another meeting at which the Department … could observe (the girl) with her child and genetic testing of the child could be performed.”
Texas: Polygamist sect teen refuses baby’s testing
Texas child welfare authorities have asked a judge to order a 17-year-old mother from a polygamist sect to submit to a psychological evaluation after she showed up to an appointment for genetic testing with someone else’s baby.
State officials believe the girl was married to a man in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when she was 14. In Texas, someone younger than 17 generally cannot consent to sex with an adult, and The Associated Press is withholding her name because it generally does not name possible victims of sex crimes.
“It appears that (the girl) has been separated from her child,” Dolezal said in the filing.
The agency is also concerned the girl is “being improperly influenced, against her best interest, into making choices to not produce her child and to produce another individual’s child,” he wrote.
CPS officials have said they want to ensure the infant is safe and are not seeking custody.
A hearing in the teen’s case is scheduled for Friday.
Her case is one of just two remaining cases in what was initially one of the largest custody cases in U.S. history.
Twelve FLDS men have been indicted on charges related to underage marriages and bigamy; the first trial is scheduled for this fall.
State wants girl from polygamist compound evaluated
Sect spokesman Willie Jessop said CPS’ own actions have made the girl afraid the agency will take the infant from her.
“This girl is mortified at the state,” he said. “She’s terrified they’ll take her baby. There’s been a breakdown of trust.”
The motion also states that CPS does not intend to seek permanent custody of the girl, one of two whose cases remain open since the April 3 raid of the YFZ Ranch, where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has made its Texas home.
It’s the first time CPS has said publicly it will not ask for custody of the 17-year-old girl, said CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins – bringing to 438 the number of children who have been or are likely to be dropped from the case out of the original 439 removed during the weeklong raid.
The girl made headlines in November when she refused to divulge the whereabouts of her infant, even after an order from Walther.
Rather than find the teen in contempt of court, Walther recessed the hearing and ordered attorneys to strike a sealed agreement in which the girl, her mother and attorneys for both were to meet with CPS attorneys and caseworkers and produce the baby for genetic testing.
Instead, the motion states, she produced a baby that testing showed is not hers.
Attempts to meet again were rebuffed, as the girl refused to sign an agreement in which all sides would meet Jan. 9, the motion states, leading CPS to request that she undergo psychological evaluation.
Further attempts to agree on a time and a doctor also were rejected, according to the motion, leading CPS to ask Walther to order the testing be done on Saturday.
The girl’s child was born in June, shortly after state appellate courts ordered the return of all 439 children taken in April from the YFZ Ranch. CPS has argued it found a “pervasive pattern and practice” of forced underage marriage and sexual abuse there, and that more than 25 percent of pubescent girls removed from the compound were married between ages 12 and 15.
CPS alleges the girl was married at age 14. She turns 18 in August.
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