Texas child welfare authorities have filed papers seeking to drop more children of the Fundamentalist LDS Church from court oversight in the nation's largest custody case.
At the close of court on Tuesday, Child Protective Services filed to "nonsuit" 10 more children taken in the raid on the Utah-based polygamous sect's YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas. The decision means the children would be out from under court jurisdiction, but does not end CPS' investigation.
"The only reason we're ending the legal case is we don't feel it needs to be under the supervision of the court," said CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins. "CPS is satisfied that we don't need the supervision of the court."
The reasons to nonsuit vary, Crimmins said. In some cases, there may be no evidence of abuse. In others, the parents have taken appropriate steps to protect the children. Some have also turned 18 and aged out of the system.
Hundreds of children were taken in the April raid on the YFZ Ranch, when authorities responded to a call (now believed to be a hoax) about a pregnant teenager in an abusive polygamous marriage to an older man. On site, law enforcement and CPS said they saw other evidence of abuse. That led a judge to order the removal of all of the children.
The 440 children were ultimately returned after a pair of Texas courts ruled the state acted inappropriately in removing all of them. As the custody case has progressed, CPS has nonsuited approximately 176 cases.
Recently, a judge ordered a 14-year-old girl to be placed in foster care again after ruling her mother, Barbara Jessop, could not protect her from abuse. Authorities have suggested the girl was married at age 12 to FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.
Crimmins said he was unaware of any plans to re-remove anyone else. CPS lawyers are expected to nonsuit more cases in the coming weeks.
"They're nonsuiting as they go along," Crimmins said.
E-MAIL: [email protected]