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Timeline of raid on FLDS-owned YFZ Ranch

Published: Friday, May 23 2008 12:02 a.m. MDT

April 3: A raid on the FLDS-owned YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, begins. Law officers act on a warrant initiated by a phone call from a 16-year-old girl reporting sexual and physical abuse at the hands of an older man to whom she was "a spiritual wife."

April 5: 167 children taken into custody by Child Protective Services workers. Law enforcement officials with search and arrest warrants look for Dale Barlow, the man named in the young woman's phone call. A SWAT team breaks into the FLDS temple located on the ranch despite protests.

April 6: Sixty FLDS mothers voluntarily leave the ranch to be with their children at a makeshift shelter in San Angelo. State officials continue to search the compound for children. Child welfare workers say 18 children showed evidence of possible abuse.

April 7: A judge orders children, now numbered at 401, into temporary protective custody based on determination of significant risk of harm. A total of 133 women have now left the compound. Men on the ranch are not allowed to leave while investigation continues. Twelve attorneys hired to defend church members.

April 8: Affidavit released by the court outlines claims of physical and sexual abuse made by the teenage caller. A groundswell of opinion, pro and con, begins to grow.

April 9: Dale Evans Barlow, the accused abuser, denies allegations, says he hasn't been in Texas since 1977. Arizona probation officials agree it's unlikely he has been in Texas recently. Records and other items are seized amid allegations such seizure could violate pastor/parishioner confidentiality. A Deseret News/KSL poll shows 62 percent of Utahns find the raid "probably or definitely " justified.April 10: Three mothers report to the Deseret News they are being denied access to their children. Officials in Utah and Arizona say they hope information from Texas raid will help them in their investigations into other FLDS enclaves

April 11: Authorities release 88 pages detailing items seized from the ranch.The search continues for the girl now identified as "Sarah" alleged to have made the initial call. The Texas Bar seeks volunteer lawyers for each of the now 416 children in custody

April 12: Barlow meets with Texas Rangers in St. George, leaves a free man. Rangers refuse to say if he's still a suspect. Deseret News reporters and photographers become first media ever allowed inside ranch. Women from shelters speak with Deseret News on cell phones complaining of crowded conditions and uncertainty.

April 13: A judge orders all cell phones confiscated from FLDS women and children amid allegations the move was triggered by women talking with Deseret News reporters and sharing pictures taken with the phones. Utah Attorney General says Texas raid could compromise Utah efforts to keep communication with polygamists open. Eldorado newspaper prints legal notices of the court's actions, preparatory to upcoming court hearing.

April 15: Public opinion intensifies. Child welfare officials defend the raid, say they have homes lined up for children if the state retains custody. Former FLDS members have little sympathy, say the abuses of which the Texas group are accused really happen. The ACLU decries "colliding issues," declines to take a stand.

April 16: Hearings begin in 51st District Court with Judge Barbara Walther presiding. Tom Green County courthouse is filled to capacity, with overflow going to City Hall.

April 17: Ten hours of testimony stresses that while no signs of physical or sexual abuse have yet been documented among children in custody, the general culture of the polygamous sect puts them at risk. Hearing is punctuated by dozens of objections and lawyer requests to be heard on issues of unlawful search and seizure, venue, freedom of religion and authenticity of records. Police in Colorado Springs announce they have arrested a woman, Rozita Swinton, for investigation of making a false report to authorities and make a tentative connection to the Eldorado raid. Texas Rangers go to Colorado to investigate.

April 18: Walther rules that all 416 children are to remain in custody of state. Search begins for foster homes. Some mothers say they will drop lifestyle to retain children. Judge promises individual hearings for each child before June 5. After a search of her home, Colorado Springs officials say Rozita Swinton is a "person of interest" in the phone calls that set off the raid.

April 19: Texas officials say they will try to keep siblings and teenage mothers and their children together as placements are made and promise sensitivity to particular needs of the FLDS. State and federal prosecutors asked to screen evidence taken in search of Swinton's home.

April 20: FLDS lawyers say they will aggressively challenge court's decision.Collection of DNA samples to try to match parents with children begins.

April 21: Tally of children in custody rises to 437, with speculation the count still could change. Judge suggests LDS might supervise prayer gatherings of the FLDS to ensure mothers don't use time to indoctrinate children. Utah's Family Support Center says raid more harmful than helpful. FLDS mothers appeal to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. No meetings planned.

April 22: Up to 100 children are moved from San Angelo Coliseum as placement in foster care begins. Lawyers for FLDS claim many civil rights violations.

April 24: Distribution of children from San Angelo to foster care sites throughout Texas continues. Count of children in custody rises to 462. Salt Lakers protest Texas raid in demonstration outside EnergySolutions Aarena.

April 25: Texas 3rd Court of Appeals refuses to hear plea of 45 FLDS women to bar "scattering of children." Busing of children to foster care sites continues.

April 26: The last of the children leave the San Angelo area for foster care.

April 27: Two FLDS boys are reported "unaccounted for." Texas authorities express frustration with slow process of sorting through 1,000 boxes of items removed from FLDS ranch. Attorneys for the sect are stymied by the lack of progress in their ability to begin court actions protesting the raid.

April 28: Texas officials say more than half of the teenage girls removed from the ranch have children or are pregnan

April 29: FLDS lawyers take first steps to sue Texas in federal court for lack of due process in the raid and its aftermath. Utah Attorney GeneraL Mark Shurtleff and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., square off on differences regarding polygamy issues. The Nevadan says Utah and Arizona have been lax in prosecuting polygamy, approves of Texas raid. After discussion, the two agree to work together on issues. Reid later announced appointment of a Justice Department prosecutor to review federal role in helping state, local law enforcement efforts against polygamy.

April 30: Texas' top child welfare official tells a Texas Senate committee 41 of the FLDS children taken in the raid had historic evidence of broken bones, but an FLDS attorney says the report is part of the state's attack on the religion.

May 1: Group of FLDS mothers petition Texas 3rd Court of Appeals to reverse Walther's decision to remove children from ranch.

May 2: Texas Department of Public Safety acknowledges warrant against Dale Barlow has been dropped. Texas authorities issue "cultural awareness guide" to help social workers deal with FLDS children.

May 5: FLDS leader asks in a letter that Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. intervene. After review, governor says Utah will look only at cases involving Utah children. Utah child welfare authorities ask FLDS for a list of such children.

May 6: LDS Church rebuts article on New York Times Web site making "invalid" comparisons of early LDS polygamy and FLDS practices.

May 7: ACLU expresses concerns regarding Texas handling of the raid.

May 8: Texas officials begin drafting "family service plans" for children.

May 9: Utah and Arizona attorneys general speak in St. George meeting, supporting Texas raid but stating such an approach would not be used in their states.

May 10: Texas CPS respond to FLDS mothers' petition, saying all children in the sect are at risk due to lifestyle and teachings.

May 11: FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop delivers a letter of appeal to President Bush, who is in Texas for daughter's wedding. As customary, the letter was to be screened through normal channels.

May 16: FLDS mother, 18, wins court "victory," is allowed to stay temporarily with her newborn and an older child.

May 17: Jeffs' attorneys asked that a grand jury indictment in Arizona cases be dismissed, citing flaws in the jury's processes and undue influence from the state of Arizona.

May 19: Custody hearings start for each affected family, expected to take three weeks. Utah Supreme Court docket shows Jeffs will appeal his Utah conviction.

May 20: Four more FLDS "disputed minors" are declared to be adults;

May 21: San Angelo officials inform the Texas Senate Finance Committee that the raid and its aftermath has cost more than $5.2 million, with $1.3 million accruing monthly to keep the children in custody. Status hearings in five San Angelo courtrooms cause confusion, bitterness, with little hard evidence of abuse. Texas officials return to the ranch on suspicion more children remain at the compound, are turned away for lack of a search warrant. FLDS fear another raid.

May 22: The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin rules that Texas acted improperly in taking the children from the ranch. Judge Walther has 10 days to order return of children. CPS expected to appeal.

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