An FLDS couple won another temporary court victory Monday. But their quest to gain full legal custody of their children from Texas officials is still up in the air.
Joseph and Lori Jessop appeared before a judge in San Antonio to ask for "full possessory rights" to their three children. They've been fighting to separate themselves from the massive Texas Child Protective Services case involving hundreds of children from the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
Attorneys with the Texas Attorney General's Office asked Monday that the case be heard in San Angelo, where Judge Barbara Walther originally ordered all children removed from the YFZ Ranch and placed into state custody. San Antonio judge Martha Tanner declined to give up jurisdiction, said Teresa Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Jessops' attorney.
Lawyers from the attorney general's office then notified the judge that they intended to file an appeal with the 4th Court of Appeals. Tanner agreed to put the case on hold and issued a temporary restraining order to keep CPS investigators away from the children pending the appeal.
"There was a lot of procedural back and forths," Kelly said of the hearing.
The San Antonio judge had harsh words for the state attorneys, according to a report in the San Antonio Express-News.
"I'm not going to allow CPS or any other agency to interfere with parents in this state," Tanner said.
After one of the couple's children were sent to a foster facility in San Antonio, the Jessops went to a judge there and won a temporary restraining order May 13, preventing CPS from separating their infant son from his mother when he turned 1 year old. CPS had allowed mothers of children younger than 1 to remain with them in the facilities.
The court also granted the parents temporary custody of their three children until Monday's review hearing. Days later, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that CPS had improperly placed the approximately 450 FLDS children in state custody and ordered them all returned to their families.
The children were returned, but Walther imposed conditions on their release including allowing CPS access to their homes for unannounced visits to conduct medical, psychological or psychiatric examinations. The Jessops have argued there has been no evidence of abuse in their family and have sought to be removed from the CPS case and the conditions placed on the other families.Texas investigators raided the ranch in April on a telephone tip about abuse. That phone call appears to have been a hoax, but CPS officials said they found evidence of sexual abuse there.
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