Lawyers for the Fundamentalist LDS Church are preparing for what could become a series of lawsuits against Texas authorities for the raid on the YFZ Ranch.
"There is a desire and a need for compensation, so I think you will see something come," said Rod Parker, a Salt Lake attorney who is acting as a spokesman for the FLDS people.
The lawsuits would likely focus on the removal of the children, the raid itself and damage to the FLDS Church's first-ever temple on the Eldorado property.
"They kicked in the door. They tore it up," Parker told the Deseret News Thursday. "More importantly, it was defiled. It's not usable as a temple."
The children taken in the raid and placed in foster care have returned to their families with "problems," he said.
"They're looking at counseling."
The raid on the Yearning For Zion Ranch began April 3 when Texas child welfare authorities and police responded to a call about a 16-year-old girl who said she was pregnant and in an abusive marriage to an older man.
Once there, authorities say they saw signs of other abuse, including underage mothers. That prompted a judge to order the removal of all of the children from the FLDS property.
All 440 children were returned to their parents following a pair of rulings by an appeals court and the Texas Supreme Court that said the state acted improperly. Criminal investigations are still under way, and the original call that sparked the raid is being investigated as a hoax.
A Dallas attorney who represented a number of young women whom Texas alleged were minors but were really adults told the Deseret News she is still considering a lawsuit on their behalf, alleging civil rights violations.
"We're still in the research and drafting process," Laura Shockley said Thursday.
Collecting on any possible court victory may not be easy. Texas has immunity laws protecting itself against certain types of civil litigation, but government officials could be named individually. There is also a cap on the amount of damages that could be collected.
"It depends on if they sue in state court or federal," Shockley said. "If they sue in state court, there's all kinds of immunity. There may be some immunity issues in federal court. We're all researching that issue."
The Deseret News first reported in April that letters had been sent out, putting Texas authorities on notice to preserve any and all communications and documentation, should it become evidence in civil litigation. A series of follow-up letters were recently sent out, Parker said."There are a lot of different ways to pursue this and look at it," he said. "We want to be smart about it and not be reckless."
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