On Monday, the state of Texas will begin a series of hearings that will determine what members of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints sect must do to be reunited with their children, who were seized during the April 3 raid of the Yearning For Zion ranch. By that time, the number of minors in state custody, once thought to be 416 and now claimed to be 464, will change yet again.
According to Laura Shockley, a Dallas attorney who is representing six minors in the case, during the next several days Child Protective Services will deem that as many as 31 members of the FLDS sect they had previously declared as minors are, in fact, adults. In the meantime, CPS, working in conjunction with the Texas Rangers, is rounding up as many of the disputed minors as possible and interviewing them without the presence, or consent, of their attorneys, Shockley tells Unfair Park.
“What they’re doing, before they’re declared to be adults, is forcing them to participate in interviews, which they wouldn’t be able to do if these people are deemed adults,” Shockley says. “If they are adults, and a police officer calls and says I want to speak to you, they don’t have to speak without having an attorney present.
“Well, they know that CPS is already starting to declare that some of these minors are actually adults, so they’re just going to continue to treat them like children for the next couple of days so they can conduct their interviews without an attorney being present.”
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Shockley says she called one of her clients, who is living at a shelter in Liverpool in Brazoria County, yesterday at noon to check in; the attorney told her client she would call back before the end of the day. Shockley says that when she called back a little before 5 p.m., she was told that her client was in a meeting. Shockley tells Unfair Park that when she finally got in touch with her client at 8 p.m., she was told the girl had been taken to a child assessment office by CPS workers, where she was interviewed by law enforcement officers for about an hour.
Shockley says she then called another client living at a shelter in San Antonio, who told her the same thing had happened to her. In the time since, Shockley says she has got e-mails from other attorneys representing minors from across the state who say their clients are telling them the same thing.
“The Texas Rangers are interviewing these girls in pursuit of a criminal investigation," Shockley says. "Some of them are married to the suspects, there’s spousal privilege that they may not be aware of. They’re asking them who the father of their children is, who they are married to, how many sister wives they have, when they got married, the age of first child, all to build a criminal case, and they’re doing it without attorneys present.
“It’s an atrocity is what it is.” --Jesse Hyde