Saturday, April 5, 2008

Children rescued from polygamist compound

Polygamy was outlawed in the United States and Canada in 1890. Apparently, Warren Jeffs didn’t get the memo. In 2002, he declared himself Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the FLDS), a group with 30,000-plus members in North America, after his father Rulon died. After becoming Prophet of the FLDS, he married all but two of dad's 75 widows, including two adolescent sisters given to the old man for his 90th birthday. Unfortunately for Jeffs, federal authorities didn’t like what he was up to and he was convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin in 2001. He got 10 years to life last November for his role in the arranged marriage of the teenage cousins. To read more about State of Utah v. Warren Steed Jeffs, click here.

Well, life at the ranch hasn’t gotten any better since Jeffs was imprisoned. Child welfare officials are scrambling to find foster homes for dozens of girls removed from the highly guarded West Texas religious retreat after a 16-year-old living there complained of physical abuse. According to authorities, the girls that were placed in protective custody were believed to be in danger.

CNN is reporting that officials from Texas Child Protective Services, escorted by state troopers, took 52 girls, ages 6 months to 17 years, from the remote retreat on Friday afternoon. Child welfare officials were looking for foster homes for the girls, most of whom have rarely been outside the insular world of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They were being housed for now at a civic center, she said.

I firmly believe that we should all be able to live life as we see fit . . . as long as it is legal. However, I get bent out of shape when I see that children are put in dangerous and abusive situations. Children need guidance in order to make good choices. When adults are forcing teenage girls into marriages with grown men then there is problem. It is a relief to know that these girls were rescued without another Waco like stand-off. How authorities help these girls deal with the realities of a world outside the ranch is going to be no small task. We can only hope that they aren't returned to that life anytime soon.

No comments: