Rozita Swinton

The woman suspected of making the phone call that sparked the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch is scheduled to appear in a Colorado courtroom today.

But Rozita Swinton may not be seen by anyone beyond lawyers and the judge.

During her last court appearance in June, the El Paso County District Attorney's Office said Swinton did appear in the judge's chambers where she waived her court appearance.

"She physically came to the courthouse and signed a promise" to appear at the pretrial conference today, said district attorney's spokeswoman Lin Billings. "It's really not that unusual. It's an efficient way to move our volume of cases."

Prosecutors said Swinton's attorney told the judge that he also needed time to wade through a large volume of evidence in the case she's charged with in Colorado Springs. A trial date on the misdemeanor charge of making a false report to police could be set today, Billings said.

Swinton's defense attorney, David W. Foley, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Tuesday.

In Colorado, Swinton, 33, is accused of making a hoax call where she pretended to be a 13-year-old girl named "Dana," who was locked in a basement, drugged and being sexually abused. The call had Colorado Springs police searching door-to-door in a neighborhood for the girl.

Swinton is considered a "person of interest" in the call that launched the raid on the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. In arrest warrant affidavits, police said cell phone numbers used by Swinton have been linked to calls made by a 16-year-old "Sarah" to family crisis shelters in Texas and Washington. Similar calls were made to child welfare authorities in Arizona and Utah.

"Sarah" claimed to be pregnant and in an abusive marriage to a man named Dale Barlow. Texas Child Protective Services workers and law enforcement went to the YFZ Ranch to investigate.

Once there, they said they saw signs of other abuse on the ranch and a judge ordered all of the children removed from the property. They were returned to their parents after two Texas courts ruled that the state acted improperly in removing the 440 children.

An arrest warrant for Barlow was ultimately dropped. A Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman told the Deseret News on Monday that Swinton continues to be investigated.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com