SAN ANGELO The search continued Wednesday for five men indicted by a Schleicher County Grand Jury in Eldorado, Texas.
Late Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, and four of his followers were charged with sexual assault of a child. One of those men was also charged with bigamy, also a first -degree felony. A sixth man was indicted on three counts of failure to report child abuse, all misdemeanors.
The names of the five others cannot be released until they are in custody. Jeffs, who was convicted in Utah last year of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin, and sentenced to a pair of 5-to-life prison terms, is currently in a Kingman, Ariz. jail cell where he is facing trial on sexual misconduct charges accusing him of performing underage marriages.
Reaction from Texas on the indictments continued to flow in Wednesday.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the agency that received criticism after taking more than 400 children off the YFZ Ranch in April during the initial investigation of reports of abuse, issued a statement today saying they feel some vindication by the indictments.
"The indictment seems to indicate CPS was correct in its belief that some children at the ranch had been sexually abused, and all children are at risk in a community in which adults do not take a stand against the abuse taking place in their homes," said CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins.
Ironically, the parenting classes the FLDS women were ordered to attend by Judge Barbara Walther as part of the condition for them to be returned to the YFZ ranch were scheduled to begin today.
Crimmins said the CPS parenting classes will be held throughout the state. He said the lessons are not "cookie cutter classes." While some basic elements are given in all parenting classes, each one is designed to specifically address the parent in question. In this case, Crimmins said the classes have been drawn up to deal with the FLDS women. He said they would likely be attending classes with only other women from the polygamist sect and not with women who are not from the ranch.
Natalie Malonis, the court appointed attorney ad litem for Teresa Jeffs, daughter of Warren Jeffs, said today she was not surprised by the indictments or the number of people indicted.
Also Tuesday, while the grand jury was meeting, San Antonio attorney Alan Futrell filed a motion once again seeking the removal of Malonis as Jeffs' ad litem attorney.
Jeffs has been very public about not wanting Malonis as her attorney. But Malonis believes there are others behind the scenes who are telling the young girl what to say. In fact, Malonis said if she felt like Teresa was speaking for herself and making up her own mind, she would step down as her ad litem attorney.
"If I felt like I had a legitimate request from her making up her own mind ... I would (remove myself)," she said. "But I don't think that's the case."
As for the latest motion by Futrell, as of noon Wednesday, a judge had not signed it yet, meaning she had not officially recognized the motion. And Malonis said she wouldn't be surprised if Walther took no action on the motion at all.
"I don't even think the judge will acknowledge he filed this, just like the last motion he filed," Malonis said.
Malonis also acknowledged that Jeffs will turn 17 on Saturday, the legal age in Texas that someone can consent to sex. But in terms of Malonis still representing Jeffs as her attorney ad litem, she said the birthday won't affect anything. Jeffs cannot, for example, say she no longer needs Malonis and fire her even though she is 17, Malonis said.
"As a practical matter, (her birthday) won't have an actual effect," she said.
The new motion talks about Malonis' "personal behavior in the recent past" that has brought into question her "judgment, lifestyle and her ability to cope with responsibilities and obligations."
"It appears that those issues presented in the year 2000, and continued into this calender year," according to the motion which did not go into any detail about what in her personal lifestyle could give rise to criticism.
Malonis chuckled when the Deseret News read her the motion and said she had no clue what she was doing in 2000 that was so wrong. Other media have suggested her divorce and child custody matters were at issue. But Malonis said she was divorced in 1998."Alan Futrell is not anyone to do anything with any kind of standing in the civil case. There's no need to respond at all (to his motion). However, since it's being published by the media ... what appears publicly is not necessarily an accurate portrayer of the facts. Alan can discuss whatever he wants in whatever way he wants, but that certainly doesn't make it accurate. This young lady is being controlled and manipulated and exploited and improperly influenced. My greatest desire is to get her out from under that," she said.
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