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Polygamy and CPS

In a 2008 case out of Austin, the Texas Appellate Court heard two decisions involving the removal of children from a ranch outside Eldorado, Texas.  The decision in Bradshaw is based on the same facts and arguments as the decision in Steed.  In those cases Writs of Mandamus were filed by several mothers of the children removed by CPS from the FLDS community in April 2008 complaining that the evidence was insufficient to support the removal and retention of the children under the Family Code.  Removal and retention was based on evidence that the children were part of a collective "household" of sexual predators and female children to become sexual abuse victims by encouraging marriage, sex and child birth as soon after puberty as possible.

While there was evidence that five of the children removed had become pregnant between the ages of fifteen and sixteen, none of these children belonged to the realtors nor lived in their homes at the ranch.  The Court of Appeals found there was no allegation of physical abuse other than that which were sexual in nature after the children reached puberty.

The Court of Appeals found no evidence of abuse to the specific children in question as required by the statute because they were all pre-puberty age.  Further, the Court of Appeals found that simply while they might be exposed to this lifestyle in the future, they were in no urgent or immediate danger as required by the statute.

The Court of Appeals rejected the notion that the children were all part of a common household because although they lived more communally than typical neighborhoods, there was evidence that some families on the ranch had different beliefs about polygamy and the appropriate age for marriage in children.  Finally, the Court of Appeals found that CPS failed to make a reasonable effort to figure out some means of protecting the children other than removal as required by the statute and that removal of all children based on the call of a witness who could never be located was not well founded. 

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