A Texas appeals court said Thursday that the state had no right to take more than 400 children from a polygamist sect’s ranch, a ruling that could unravel one of the biggest child-custody cases in U.S. history.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered “legally and factually insufficient” grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.
The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.
It also failed to show evidence that more than five of the teenage girls were being sexually abused, and never alleged any sexual or physical abuse against the other children, the court said.
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