A letter signed by three Fundamentalist LDS Church mothers dated April 11 was hand-delivered Monday to the office of Texas Gov. Rick Perry seeking his help in getting back the 437 children taken by the state from the church's YFZ Ranch.
"We appeal to you, our Governor, who has sworn to take the responsibility of looking after the well-being of the citizens of Texas," the letter released by Perry's office midday Monday reads.
"We wish you would come and have a first-hand look at the conditions the state has put these beautiful children in. You would be appalled."
It goes on say that the children have been subjected to "horrifying" physical examinations and "traumatizing" conditions.
A spokeswoman for the Texas governor, Krista Piferrer, said the descriptions in the letter "may be a little outdated. The governor has been closely monitoring this situation since it began on April 3 and even before that" as authorities were gathering information.
"The governor holds in high regard the work that's been done by our Texas law enforcement and CPS (Texas Department of Family and Protective Services) to ensure the safety and well-being of these children in our care," she said.
Perry has no plans to meet with the women, Piferrer said. "Where we are right now is in the hands of the court and we're taking direction, CPS is, from the court," she said, noting the court has ordered the children remain in state care.
"The governor is confident that rigorous investigation will go on to look into the conditions and the environment that these children have at home just like any CPS investigation that takes place, only on a grander, larger scale," she said.
The women had said the letter originally was mailed to the governor's office on April 12, but Piferrer said it never arrived. Instead, a copy was hand-delivered to the office Monday, a state holiday celebrating San Jacinto Day.
The letter, which appears to be signed by Monica S. Jessop, Patricia Keate and Shannon Maria Johnson who say they represent the mothers at the YFZ Ranch, says that, "Our innocent children are continually being questioned on things they know nothing about."
The women wrote that about 15 mothers were away from the ranch "when the state seized our children" and that they had nowhere to go "because of law enforcement blockade preventing entering or leaving the ranch" until April 9.
That's when they were "permitted to return to our empty, ransacked homes, heartsick and lonely," the letter states, concluding with a plea for help from the governor.
"We have sought for help and have been refused at every hand. We want our children back!! Please help us! We want you to hear our side of the story."The Texas raid on the ranch began April 3 when authorities acted on calls made to a family crisis center hotline by someone identifying herself as a 16-year-old girl who said she was pregnant and in an abusive marriage. Once child welfare workers were on the ranch, they said they discovered other evidence of abuse and a judge ordered all of the children removed from the compound.
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