Skip to comments.Cost of Polygamist Case Tops $7 Million
Posted on 06/04/2008 4:25:34 PM PDT by FreeInWV
Removing 460 children from a polygamist sect compound and then reuniting them with their families will cost Texas $7 million, according to the state Department of Family and Protective Services.
The children were ordered returned to their families this week after the Texas Supreme Court found that the state did not have enough evidence to show that abuse was happening at the Yearning for Zion ranch near Eldorado.
Custody Battle Over Sect ChildrenMike Stone, ReutersA woman and two children from a polygamist sect in Eldorado, Texas, prepare to return home Tuesday after sect children were ordered reunited with their families. The order followed a Texas Supreme Court ruling that authorities had no grounds to remove 460 children from the sect.
The price tag includes costs from fighting a court battle to retain custody of the children, attempting to determine their parentage through DNA testing and reuniting the children with their parents.
The $7 million does not include more than $500,000 in estimated costs incurred by local governments whose law enforcement agencies were involved in the April 3 ranch raid, according to a budgetary presentation given to Texas lawmakers last month.
The raid was prompted by an anonymous caller who claimed that men at the ranch were involved in sexual relationships with young girls.
The ranch is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon offshoot that practices polygamy. Child welfare officials said they found a "pervasive pattern" of sexual abuse through forced marriages between underage girls and older men. FLDS members have denied that any sexual abuse occurred and say they are being persecuted because of their religion.
Albert Hawkins, executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services, told the state Senate Finance Committee that as of May 15, the state had spent more than $5.2 million to provide food, shelter and counseling to the FLDS children. The bulk of those costs included employee overtime and transportation, Hawkins said.
Meanwhile, a state district judge told senators that legal costs in the case had topped $2.2 million. Most of that burden falls on Tom Green County, where the district court hearings were taking place, and Schleicher County, where the ranch is located, said Judge Ben Woodward, according to a Senate statement.
Neither county, Woodward said, has the money to cover the legal costs. "We're at a point now where we're going to start limping along pretty badly," he said.
The court costs estimate, presented to the Senate on May 20, does not appear to reflect the cost of an appeal handled by the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals. The appeals court overturned the district court's ruling that the children should remain in state custody.
For comparison, $7 million would pay for 137 police officers in the city of Mesquite, Texas, at a salary of $51,060, according to a figure from a job posting. It would also pay for 180 new teachers at the average statewide salary of $38,857 given by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification and would more than double resources available for a state program aimed at children of incarcerated parents, according to the state's budget for fiscal 2008-09. In that budget, the program receives $5 million.
Texas Child Protective Services referred all questions about the costs of the operation to the state's Health and Human Services department. In response to the Texas Supreme Court ruling last week, CPS said in a statement that it "has one purpose in this case: to protect the children. Our goal is to reunite families whenever we can do so and make sure the children will be safe."
The removal of the children was thought to be the largest child protection case in the nation's history. If they had remained in state custody, Hawkins told lawmakers, the estimated monthly cost for their care would have been $1.3 million.
District Judge Barbara Walther, who decided after a chaotic hearing last month that the state would retain custody of the children, also ordered DNA testing to identify parents and children, as child protection officials said they were thwarted by FLDS members who gave them conflicting or misleading information about their names, ages and familial ties.
Those DNA test results, obtained by a North Carolina lab, were beginning to come in Tuesday, the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office said. The lab was starting to deliver reports to the court, the office said, and CPS should have them by the end of the week.
Some 599 DNA samples were taken, the office said. Of those, only 36 were of adult males. Now that the children are being returned, CPS will decide how to use the results in its continuing case involving its oversight of the FLDS.
State Sen. Steve Ogden told officials during the hearing that the final costs would probably be more than the estimated figures presented.
"The cost of this operation is going to be a lot more than is on this sheet of paper," he said. "It doesn't reflect what is going on now, and there are huge legal costs out there that we haven't even discussed yet."
He asked officials to rework their analyses of future costs so the state isn't caught by surprise when the next legislative session begins in January.
However, all that is largely a moot point now, as FLDS children were allowed to reunite with their families beginning Monday. Though the state Supreme Court upheld the ruling that the state had no right to seize the 460 children, the justices said that court oversight of the FLDS could be accomplished through other means.
Also during the hearing, state Sen. Bob Duell questioned whether Texas could force FLDS adults to bear some of the costs. However, given the subsequent court decisions, it appears unlikely the FLDS could be forced to bear any financial responsibility.
To those familiar with FLDS history, the raid called to mind a 1953 mass arrest in the hamlet of Short Creek on the Utah-Arizona state line. More than 400 FLDS members were arrested and more than 200 children taken into foster care. However, news photographs of wailing mothers and children won public sympathy, and the raid backfired on then-Arizona Gov. Howard Pyle, who ordered it. In the next election, Pyle was voted out of office.
"For 50 years, [the FLDS] used the Short Creek raid as [a] reason to keep their people secretive and isolated," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told the Los Angeles Times in a story Saturday. "We said that was not going to happen again. Well, it has happened again."
Eldorado residents, meanwhile, expressed frustration with the outcome of the raid and the court's finding that the state had no right to remove the children.
"I said from the word go, if there's sex with underage girls, nail their butt," Curtis Griffin, owner of the local fuel depot, told the Los Angeles Times. "But nail the right people. We're going to wind up with a $30 million bill here in this little county because these people didn't have their ducks in a row."
I missed that, or just wasn't paying attention. What did he say?
Are you saying that this animosity only arose in the past year?
I guess that'll teach 'em not to be cultists.
Maybe they'll give up that foolishness and be normal.
Are you being sarcastic?
I would have thought that would have been obvious. The reason for bussing the children matters. If you think that the CPS had a good reason for bussing the children then what the Baptists did was a good thing. If you think that what the CPS did in taking the children from their parents was reprehensible then what the Baptists did was reprehensible.
Some posters here would have rather seen the children chained to each other and marched into town rather then get on a Baptist bus. Why is that?
No, the posters here would rather the children not be torn from their mothers arms. Do you think that the CPS did the right thing in tearing the families apart?
Actually it is, via another link way down at the bottom right. But here it is, it's a PDF file, so you at least need Adobe reader:
See post 60 - I found it already. Or, more accurately, I was led by the nose to it.
Now, will it stand up in court?
I don’t know.
ROTLMAO, Humble hasn't seen "normal" in a good long time .. Not that that's a Bad Thing you understand. He's just not your average guy. He's at least Six sigma away in some unique direction in some higher dimensional space. He's just Humblegunner
He is a friend to horses, goats, dogs and FReepers ... but not Midgets!
Bad form that. Taking a good natured jab at one's friends without pinging them to it.
I Have heard him described as abby...abby...abby norma something, before.
But...Humble, what is really pissing you off about all this?
Are you angry, because some of us wierded out when TX CPS trashed the Constitution?
Would you be angry, if TX trashed the 2nd, and we wierded out?
Is not the supreme law of the land, the law for the ugly, and probably guilty, just like it is for the rest of us?
OBTW, the day the DEA goes over to the National Archives, siezes the US Constitution, and destroys it, because it is written on HEMP PAPER - well, Claire Wolfe’s awkward time is over.
I just don't seem to be able to gin up a lot of sympathy for
folks that teach that the modern world (and me, by extension)
is evil. Toss in the fact that they have a history of marrying off kidlet
girls to old guys and I like 'em even less.
I can't get past viewing them as criminals who "bleed the beast"
(Read: welfare fraud) and commit statutory rape under the guise
of some crackpot made-up religion.
And they dress funny.
I was raised in the Southern Baptist church in Missouri. Good people. So why were Baptists so heavily involved in this raid?
I wrote a letter to the pastor of the First Baptist Church in El Dorado TX. I mean, what was he thinking? How much were the Baptists paid for the use of their buses? I think they thought they were doing God a favor by rounding up all those FLDS kids at gunpoint. Unfortunately, they forgot about the Constitution in their zeal to do God’s bidding.
I have never heard of Huckabee making comments about the FLDS?
I am very anti-FLDS, but then I am anti-Huckabee too.
Could it be that there is a high concentration of baptists living in that area? If this situation played out in, say, Boston, maybe we'd ask "Why were Catholics so involved in this raid?"
Yea they do:
Sort of like that guy.
Or this one.
"Personally, I thought it was very nice for the Baptist church to offer its buses to transport Jews to be gassed on a school day when school buses were transporting school children, but some took that as offensive. Why?"
Excuse me but why & where do you get off changing the wording? The is no reason for it . Or do you just like to stir the pot? Or do you try to get anyone who isn't in agreement banned? Why do you need to know what church someone goes to? Its not your business. I go to a few myself depending on where I happen to be. Its is getting really old with you & many of the pro FLDS group.
CPS went in saw danger in their opinion & even if it was wrong they did what they felt was correct. Is it a known fact Warren Jeffs married young girls? Why yes it is! Is it a known fact boys are tossed out of this CULT? Why yes it is. Is it a know fact there are women who had babies as teens?..Why yes it is. Is it a known fact that the FLDS women lied?..Again yes.
Its too bad that CPS didn't have a solid case before they went in YFZ ranch. I don't like CPS at all. I also detest rapists in the name of religion. And I am totally against polygamy & gay marriages. I don't believe in ripping families apart as Warren Jeffs did or as the CPS did.
Now you can post all you want to me & call me names & get the others to do the same but I won't be here to reply as I am going camping.
I am not a religion basher but the things going on in ALL FLDS compounds stink. I hate the fact that we all pay for a bunch of men to have multi-wives & tons of children. Its called Bleeding the Beast...Again I am correct. Now if you think about it over in Jeffs other compounds/towns (whatever pleases you to call them) ....fraudulent birth certificates & licenses could have been easily made up as the towns are run by FLDS or used to be. At this point I have given up on what the FLDS does. It seems its fine & dandy for a bunch of old horny goats to have child brides & huge families & that we ought to pay for it. I don't know how this mess is going to be settled. I just hope that there are no more teen brides & that the FLDS gets off welfare in ALL of their compounds. I have not known if they collected in TX but they sure do in other states. IMHO if you want to engage in polygamy then support the wives & families yourself. Don't put the burden on the taxpayers. And leave the teen girls alone. Have a very nice , safe weekend. Pandora
Now I wonder...if CPS is so worried about underage mothers...why aren’t they investigating the numerous black and hispanic teenagers who have children well before their 18th birthday?
My, my. One might wonder about selective enforcement, mightn’t one?
If you want to take the entire board down to win some silly argument about buses have at it.
People like you make me ashamed to be a FReeper.
“However, it does include a snippet, saying that all children have now been picked up, and I thank you for providing that.
I was waiting to see if any went unclaimed, because it would have been strong evidence that some parents, as has been claimed, are not actually related to their supposed children.
It seems that didnt happen.”
That raises a good point in itself. The CPS and scores of posters here have claimed that “Those kids don’t even know who their parents are!”. Apparently they did, and the CPS refused to accept their proof until forced by a judge. Much like the 28 yo disputed minors with birth certificates and drivers licenses. Apparently, it was nothing but abuse of authority and propaganda.
There is no way that the CPS would have ever released any child to anyone but their undisputably proven legal guardian. And all of the DNA tests aren’t even back yet.
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