Texas child welfare authorities will not say if they plan to drop more cases involving children taken in the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch.

"Those decisions will be made as we complete individual investigations," Child Protective Services spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said Thursday.

CPS recently filed to nonsuit 32 cases involving children where it has either no evidence of abuse or it believes the parents have taken sufficient steps to protect children from abuse.

"We're glad to see that CPS recognizes that these mothers are good parents who love their children and are going to do what they need to do to protect their children," said Cynthia Martinez with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which represents four mothers whose cases have been nonsuited.

"This decision may come four months after the raid, but it proves that the courts were right — these mothers are good parents, and their children were never at risk."

The decision to nonsuit means that the families are no longer under CPS jurisdiction, attorneys said. But roughly 400 children's cases are yet to be decided. Court-ordered parenting classes are under way, with FLDS mothers involved and attending.

"At this point in time we're not going to discuss future cases," Meisner said.

Meanwhile, CPS is seeking to remove eight children from their homes and place them into foster care, claiming they remain at risk. The children's mothers have refused to sign statements pledging to keep the children away from men CPS says were involved in underage marriages.

In supporting documents filed in court, FLDS marriage records, dictations from polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs and even love letters from underage girls deemed to be married, CPS accuses members of the church of participation in child-bride marriages.

But a Salt Lake attorney acting as a spokesman for the FLDS Church said Texas fails to show how the children are in "imminent" danger now.

"The state really has the same problem they had before," Rod Parker said Wednesday. "They are telling people that because they're members of a certain religion, they can't have children."

Parker said arguments that children were being "groomed" in a culture of abuse were rejected by the courts as an inadequate justification for removing people's children.

Two Texas courts ordered the 440 children taken by the state to be returned to their parents, ruling that the state acted improperly in removing all of them in the April raid. The state claimed the children were in a culture of abuse, with girls becoming child brides and boys growing up to become sexual perpetrators.

The FLDS Church no longer encourages or performs underage marriages, according to a statement made public by the sect in June.

"You've got a policy statement from the church, and there have been no marriages from the church in the last two years at all — none," Parker told the Deseret News.

Meisner would not say if the agency planned to seek to place more children in foster care. Child welfare and criminal investigations continue into the church and its members. A grand jury in Eldorado last month indicted six FLDS members on charges ranging from sexual assault and bigamy to failure to report child abuse.

The men bailed out late Wednesday, with a bond reduction hearing scheduled in Eldorado next Thursday.

"They're not convicted of anything," said Parker. "It's not adequate to support taking away their children."


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com