The mother of a 14-year-old girl at the center of a custody fight with Texas child welfare authorities is criticizing a report about the girl.
In a statement Wednesday, lawyers for Barbara Jessop denied that she or anyone acting on her behalf leaked a copy of the Court Appointed Special Advocates report to several Texas newspapers. The Deseret News also obtained a copy of the report, which described 36 text messages sent to the girl that included telling her to "please stay angry," "crying will get you what you want," and "CPS needs to see that you are miserable there." The report says the cell phone was smuggled to her by her mother.
Jessop's attorneys, Valerie Malara and Brett Pritchard, said they are joining Texas Child Protective Services in seeking to have the report sealed in a hearing scheduled Friday, saying that publication of its contents are "inappropriate." They also take issue with what it says.
"Jessop's attorneys do not believe the statements contained in the CASA report accurately reflect the actual text messages and were taken out of context," Malara and Pritchard wrote.
CASA acknowledges it hadn't seen the text messages themselves by the time the report was filed with the judge, nor did CPS give any input on what it should do. CASA recommends that the girl's phone contact with her mother be cut off and that their in-person visits be restricted to twice a month and supervised by a therapist. Jessop's lawyers said the recommendations are "inappropriate, factually incorrect and heavy handed."
The girl is the only one from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch to be ordered back into foster care after a judge ruled her mother was unable to protect her from abuse. Photos surfaced in connection with the custody case showing FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and the girl at age 12 kissing in a manner that CPS lawyers described was "how a husband kisses a wife." Authorities have alleged she was married to Jeffs during a ceremony at the YFZ Ranch in 2006.
The girl's court-appointed attorney has filed a motion to withdraw from the case, but reasons have not been explained. CPS is seeking permanent custody of the girl, but has said it is hopeful for reunification. A custody trial is set for September.
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