SAN ANGELO, Texas The man accused of sexually and physically abusing a teenage girl is expected to meet with Texas Rangers today. He has denied all of the allegations.
Dale Barlow, who lives in Colorado City, Ariz., told the Deseret Morning News he's agreed to meet with the officers who contacted his probation officer to make the arrangements.
"I was told they wanted to talk to me. It's the first time I've heard from the Texas Rangers," Barlow said Friday night.
He said he told Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran a week ago by telephone that he didn't know the girl who called a domestic violence shelter hotline and said she was one of his wives and that he abused her. It was her phone calls that triggered Texas officials to raid the FLDS ranch and remove all 416 children.
Barlow said he didn't know if the Rangers planned to arrest him. A warrant for his arrest was issued out of Texas more than a week ago.
Child welfare officials said Friday they've been receiving "hundreds of calls," many from FLDS parents whose children were taken from their homes and placed into state custody.
Apart from the 139 mothers and grandmothers who chose to accompany their children and are living with them at the temporary shelters, other mothers or fathers aren't allowed to see them.
"These children are with us because we believe they've been abused or neglected. At this point in time, no one else is going to be visiting those children unless a judge says so," said Marleigh Meisner, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Many of those hundreds of calls are from relatives of the 416 children taken from Yearning For Zion Ranch. Others are calling to share information or offer assistance, Meisner said.
Judge Barbara Walther this week ordered the children to remain in the San Angelo area so she can continue to have judicial jurisdiction over the case. But providing for their needs is costing tens of thousands of dollars every day.
"My best guess is that we have in excess of 500 people in these response efforts," said Kevin Dinnin, the "incident commander" at the two makeshift shelters here.
His job is to provide meals, water, showers, restroom facilities, toiletries, security, medical facilities, transportation, toys and supplies "things we think will make life better for them in the shelter."
Each agency determines its own costs, but he said his incident management team is burning through nearly $30,000 each day.
Inside the shelters, Dinnin said, they have tried to keep family members together when possible and even set up a "guys" room for those older boys who want to be together. He said he has received many gracious compliments from the FLDS people.
"I have felt a great deal, frankly, of appreciation from the guests toward me and I'm not referring to their circumstances in the past," he said. "Particularly with the food, they've basically said 'thank you for your care' and that's very rewarding to me."
Dinnin said workers have adapted a menu to include "what they would like to eat."
As for the unique clothing needs of the members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, Dinnin said they are allowing the "guests" to send out their clothing to be laundered. If new clothes are needed, he admits the long, unique dresses the women and girls typically wear present a challenge, but he insists Texas is up to the task.
"We as an agency believe we should provide the guests whatever clothing they request," he said. "If they want black socks, I want the children to have black socks."
Children living on the ranch are home-schooled, and he has asked education and child welfare officials to make recommendations about their education needs.
Although no TVs or newspapers are inside the facilities, he said the group does have access to telephones.
Several children believed to have chicken pox are being kept together in a separate facility until they are no longer contagious, he said.
"The women, of course, have been very helpful in caring for their children," Dinnin said.
Asked by a reporter about the parenting skills of the group, Dinnin said that was not something he's qualified to determine.
"Certainly their customs are different from what our general society's customs are. It's obvious that from my opinion there is certainly an effort as any mother would to care for their child in some way shape or form. I really can't evaluate their parental skills."
The first clue of what next happens to the children will be determined Thursday, during a hearing before Walther. She approved the search warrants and ordered the removal of all children from the 1,700-acre ranch. If she decides any or all of the children should remain in state custody, Meisner said that's when they'll begin to look for "appropriate foster homes" in Texas.
"We want the children to know that even though they may not have been safe in the past, they are going to be safe as long as they're with us," she said Friday.
As for the 16-year-old girl who called a hotline to report she was being sexually and physically abused at the ranch, child welfare officials still have not identified her. "It's been an unbelievable task figuring out the identities of these victims," Meisner said.
"Their names change frequently, and many have the same name," Meisner said.
Dinnin said while the children would certainly all like to go home, he believes they're doing well."I think anyone that has to relocate from where they normally live wants to go home, because it's home. I think that's normal. Under the circumstances, these folks are as happy in their environment as they can possibly be."
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