[Guest post by DRJ]
A previously scheduled hearing before the Texas Health and Human Services subcommittee of the Texas Legislature included some surprising testimony about the FLDS boys and young children:
“Texas officials told legislators Wednesday that they’re investigating the possible sexual abuse of some young boys taken from a polygamist sect’s ranch, as well as broken bones among other children.
The disclosures are the first suggestions that anyone other than teenage girls may have been sexually or physically abused at the ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade Mormon sect.
In written and oral testimony provided to lawmakers Wednesday, officials with the state Department of Family and Protective Services said interviews and journal entries suggested that boys may have been sexually abused
Earlier, the department’s commissioner, Carey Cockerell, told lawmakers that at least 41 children, some of them “very young,” have evidence of broken bones.”
An FLDS spokesman denied the allegations, calling it “a deliberate effort to mislead the public.”
The testimony also shed light on the problems officials had during the initial investigation:
“Cockerell told a legislative committee the investigation has been difficult because members of the church have refused to cooperate. Mothers who stayed with their children for two weeks after the raid launched a coordinated effort to stymie investigators, coaching their children to not answer questions, Cockerell said.
He said the women and children would gather into apparent family units, with the children referring to several women as their mother, then the “women switched children in these family units … making it difficult.”
“When asked, women and children would change their names and ages,” he said.
The CPS report also said authorities “tried to use bracelets to identify children, but the women and children removed the bracelets or rubbed the wording off them.”
I’m a Texan and I hope the officials have acted appropriately in this case, but for the children’s sakes I hope they are wrong about these suggestions of sexual and physical abuse.
UPDATE 1: The FLDS had a licensed physician at the compound. This San Angelo Standard Times’ article discusses physicians’ obligations to report possible abuse.
UPDATE 2: It sounds like Utah leaders plan to join forces to combat polygamous and FLDS sects in that state.
UPDATE 3 – The FLDS on-site physician, Dr. Lloyd Barlow, had this response regarding the children’s broken bones:
“Lloyd Barlow, the ranch’s onsite physician, said he was caring for a number of FLDS children with broken or fractured bones at the time they were removed from the ranch. He said he has referred a number of families to emergency rooms in nearby San Angelo and to orthopedic specialists.
“Probably over 90 percent of the injuries are forearm fractures from ground-level or low-level falls,” Barlow said from his office at the Eldorado compound. “We don’t live in a community where there is a pattern of abuse.”
Forearm fractures in grade-school children probably are more common and that sounds like a reasonable response.
On the other hand, the same link also indicated that there may be more than 31 underage pregnant girls because some of the girls refused to take a pregnancy test.
It also stated that the mothers would share breast-feeding duties, making it hard to tell who was the mother of each infant.
UPDATE 4: Officials are investigating whether the younger boys were abused by older boys, not adults.