Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS and The Marriage Conundrum

Texas recognizes common law marriage as a legal marriage.

Common-law marriage is generally a non-ceremonial relationship that requires "a positive mutual agreement, permanent and exclusive of all others, to enter into a marriage relationship, cohabitation sufficient to warrant a fulfillment of necessary relationship of man and wife, and an assumption of marital duties and obligations." Black's Law Dictionary 277 (6th ed. 1990).

According to the Travis County Young Lawyers Association, in order to be married under common law, only three things need to be performed:
  • First, you must have "agreed to be married."
  • Second, you must have "held yourselves out" as husband and wife. You must have represented to others that you were married to each other. As an example of this, you may have introduced you partner socially as "my husband," or you may have filed a joint income tax return.
  • Third, you must have lived together in this state as husband and wife.
If you are married under common law, you must obtain a civil divorce. There is no such thing as a common law divorce.

Marriage generally emancipates a minor child, especially if the parents no longer support the married child. Up until two years ago, a 14 year old could get married with parental consent. Now, it's sixteen. Therefore, it is plausible that a 16 year old picked up by CPS in the FLDS raid could have a child or two and/or be pregnant, and it be a legal marriage. My mother in law was married at sixteen, so what? DHS even agrees, marriage emancipates a minor:

IX. For DSHS monitoring purposes, contractors shall document that 1) a client under the age of 17 is or has been married and is therefore not a minor under Texas law, or 2) an affirmative defense exists concerning a minor who has never been married, is under the age of 17, and who was determined to have been abused or neglected as defined by the Family Code §261.101, including but not limited to, victims of an offense under the Penal Code §21.11 or §22.011.

A. There is no affirmative defense for abuse of a minor under the age of 14.

B. Contractors/providers may, but are not required to, request documentation that a minor is married. The contractor/provider may choose to rely on statements by the minor as to his/her marital status.

C. An acceptable affirmative defense for abuse as defined in the Penal Code §21.11 (sexual indecency with a child) may be that the actor was not more than three years older than the victim; and of the opposite sex; and the actor did not use duress, force or a threat against the victim at the time of the offense.

D. An acceptable affirmative defense for abuse as defined in the Penal Code §22.011 (sexual assault) may be that the actor was not more than three years older than the victim.

I think we have a conundrum here. . .

A---Either the young ladies were married, therefore there is some polygamy going on, therefore the young ladies are emancipated and cannot be considered minor children, therefore the sexual abuse issue is moot,


B---The young ladies were NOT married, therefore there is no polygamy going on, and the minor girls were sexually abused by men in the community.

In scenario A - All the elements of common law marriage have been met. None of the married young ladies are children under Texas law, and are not guilty of polygamy, or child abuse, or sexual assault. Let them go home with their children (or Texas CPS may face false imprisonment and kidnapping claims). Texas can only criminally try the husbands for polygamy under the theory that caused the Feds to nail Al Capone for tax evasion rather than racketeering. . .it's all they had on him.

In scenario B - All of the young ladies are children, therefore there is no polygamy going on - just religious ritual bed hopping with nubile girls. So CPS should get the marriages annulled (whoops! what else do you do with the fact that these people lived together as man and wives and represented themselves as married?), offer services to the parents under a dependency proceeding. Criminally try the husbands as perps, assuming you can get the girls to testify against their husbands (they just might invoke spousal privilege to avoid testifying) and get restraining orders against them. When the girls turn eighteen, they can marry the dude all over again.

It's either polygamy and not sexual abuse, or it's sexual abuse but not polygamy. You can't have it both ways. . .

I wonder if this event will cause the mental health experts to add marriage to the list of "grooming" acts attributed to perpetrators of sexual abuse? Hey, stranger things have happened, look at the acceptance of childless experts on parenting.

It looks to me like the FLDS community learned the law, found a loophole, and exploited it. Texas is not happy about the YFZ ranch egg on it's face. I think it's funny.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS and $$$$$

Are you aware that by taking 437 (436 - revised number) children from the FLDS compound, that CPS seized almost 2/3 of the children residing in Shleicher county?

What will the impact of that astonishing seizure be on the local (county) economy?

First and foremost - every single parent will be "required" to pay child support for the entire time their children are in foster care. An attorney who doesn't know better won't know how to effectively fight this. Since the parent's attorneys will not contest this, (yes, it can be successfully contested) The child support enforcement division for the Schleicher County CPS will require more employees.

Meanwhile, the families will be required to keep and maintain a home suitable for the children to be returned to; prove their financial ability to support the children while their income is being drained by child support. Many of the stay-at-home moms will probably be required to get jobs, and keep them. This could be problematic because there aren't many jobs in this rural county. Again, this is the "way things are done" but it is inconsistent with the law governing child welfare, and if the attorneys don't understand how it's supposed to work, they won't be able to use the law to make sure their clients' - children and parents - legal interests are adequately protected.

As for finding jobs, I suggest the mothers apply to the local child support enforcement division of CPS for their jobs.

There will be a huge influx of Title IV-E monies into the state, and dispersed disproportionately to Shcleicher county's administration of the cases involving the 437 children. Every cent of that (conservatively estimated) $1 million per month is fraudulently obtained by virtue of one check mark by Her Honor. A check mark that is so simple to erase, reverse and unravel that it is shocking that nobody is doing it.

The state is mandated to make "reasonable efforts" to prevent the removal of the child from the home. This means to offer and provide services which will keep the child safely in the home as an alternative to out of home placement. The fact that such services are inconvenient for the agency, or expensive, or burdensome have no bearing on whether or not the services should be offered. Only if those services fail to keep the children safe, can CPS remove the children.

The Federal law mandates that the court make a judicial determination whether or not reasonable efforts to prevent removal have been made. This must be done on a case by case basis, child by child. Her Honor didn't do that. It must be supported by evidence in the record i.e. what services were offered and provided, and how they failed. It isn't. Res ipsa loquitur - Medicaid and Social Security fraud. Attorneys for parents and children should know this. If they don't, it's malpractice. Remember, I provide accredited Continuing Legal Education training in this arena.

In this case, as in every case, the state has a mandate to remove the danger before removing the child. The purported danger was sexual abuse of teenage girls. The purported offenders were unidentified adult men.

The First Course of action under reasonable efforts mandates: Remove the perps. Since you can't identify them, remove all the men. Make the men move out, leave the kiddies with their mommies.

CPS: Oh, but we can't. The men will sneak back in.

Solution: Install some counselors, caseworkers, foster parents to live on the ranch and supervise.

And doing them one better: The FLDS community trust could charge CPS for their lodging and other services for the supervisors who stay there. YFZ Ranch could not be expected to house the CPS supervisors without compensation, therefore here is their opportunity to grab a chunk of the federal funding pie.

Result: The agency would have made reasonable efforts to prevent the removal of the children. The investigation could continue while the children remained in the homes. Since CPS didn't do this, and especially since the parents offered it, CPS did not make reasonable efforts to prevent the removal.

FACT: They removed the kids instead of removing the danger, therefore the parents' and children's attorneys should have contested a finding that reasonable efforts were made. They still can. . .they can demand - and the court is mandated to grant - a contested hearing into whether or not the existing records support a reasonable efforts finding and make the court find that no reasonable efforts were made. When that happens, the federal funds dry up for the child's entire state in foster care.

Do you have any idea how quickly family homes become safe enough for the children to return to when the court finds reasonable efforts were not made? I do. It happens within HOURS.

CPS will be offering pre-adjudication case plans to the parents. These are fishing expeditions - it's how they complete their investigation. Federal law mandates a case plan be put into place within 60 days. It also mandates that the case plan cannot be involuntarily imposed until and unless the child is adjudicated dependent. (I'll get more into case plans in another blog). Lawyers who don't know better often fail to protect the parents from this pre-adjudication fishing expedition and it costs their clients their children.

The boilerplate services include: psychological evaluations for parents and kids, domestic violence evaluations, substance abuse evaluations (Yes, even when people don't abuse substances), supervised visitations, therapy for the children, chemical restraints (drugs) for the more resistant kiddies, medical care for the kiddies, foster care payments (the bulk of which goes for the administration of the case, not the upkeep of the kid). Often, each child's family will have over 20 service providers who derive their livelihood from that child's removal.

The mental health and ancillary professions in Texas will fare very well this year. Unless the attorneys representing the parents and children use the powerful mandates in existing law to prevent Texas from defrauding the taxpayers out of millions of dollars of Federal funds and destroying these families.

This is just a brief overview of reasonable efforts. The tip of the iceberg. It is a powerful due process protection, intended to keep kids in the family home and prevent the disruption of families. It has never been changed since its inception in 1980. But it's rarely been used properly, either.

Disclaimer: This is only the most superficial tip of the iceberg. If you need more in depth information, contact the author.

Texas Statistics Schleicher County compared to Texas State (www.fedstats.gov)
Population, 2006 estimate 2,77623,507,783
Persons under 5 years old, 2006 1911,925,197
Persons under 18 years old, 2006 6876,493,965
Average earnings per job, 2005 $18,827$47,254
Personal income per capita, 2005 $20,854$32,460
Federal spending, 2004 ($1000) 15,467141,858,480
Federal spending per capita, 2004 $5,566$6,308

Texas State Plan Title IV-E of the Social Security Act

Promoting Safe and Stable Families
To fund family preservation that serve families at risk or in crisis, including the following services: reunification and adoption services, preplacement/preventive services, follow-up services after return of a child from foster care, respite care, services designed to improve parenting skills; and infant safe haven programs; to fund community-based family support services that promote the safety and well-being of children and families, to afford children a safe, stable and supportive family environment, to strengthen parental relationships and promote healthy marriages, and otherwise to enhance child development; to fund time-limited family reunification services to facilitate the reunification of the child safely and appropriately within a timely fashion; and to fund adoption promotion and support services designed to encourage more adoptions out of the foster care system, when adoption, promotes the best interests of the child.
Child Welfare Services, State Grants
To establish, extend, and strengthen child welfare services provided by State and local, and Indian Tribal public welfare agencies to enable children to remain in their own homes, or, where that is not possible, to provide alternate permanent homes for them.
Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants
To assist States in the support and improvement of their child protective services systems.
Child Abuse and Neglect Discretionary Grants
To improve the national, State, community and family activities for the prevention, assessment, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect through research, demonstration, service improvement, evaluation of best practices, dissemination of information, and technical assistance.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS and DNA

I've got to get a quick item out before I leave for a conference this weekend.

Her Honor ordered DNA testing to sort out the mommies and daddies of the 437 kiddies taken into custody. The more astute analysts have pointed out that this testing could be used to convict the parents, both mothers and fathers, of crimes.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that a child welfare case is unlike both a criminal or a civil case. The purpose of this kind of case is to rehabilitate the parents to make the home safe for the children. To that end, there are certain procedures put into place to determine what the issues are that make the home unsafe, and to provide services to remedy those issues. That often means that the parent has two choices:
  • Cooperate with the evaluations and services (which often include making admissions in therapy) and risk having that information used to convict them, or
  • Refuse to cooperate with the evaluations and services and lose their children forever.
For certain crimes, including sexual abuse, the state is not mandated to provide services or reunify the children with the parents.

What a dilemma. But there is a solution.

The parent's attorneys and the GALs must request the Her Honor to issue protective orders, specifically stating that any information obtained during the evaluation and treatment of the offending parents must not be given to law enforcement or prosecutors, and can not be used to obtain a criminal conviction. This is justified as being in the best interests of the children, especially if the permanency plan is reunification.

There is sufficient precedent for this practice. These cases are not intended to be punitive, nor to entrap parents. They are intended to make the family home safe for the children.

At the same time, parent's lawyer must address visitation rights (yes, RIGHTS) and advise their parents not to comply with any pre-adjudication case plan, because those are nothing more than fishing expeditions to gather evidence to use against the parents.

Coming up: Reasonable Efforts to prevent removal

Suzanne Shell is a legal consultant and expert on child welfare cases.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS, 380+ Lawyers and 1 Judge

While I was extremely frustrated at the sham courtroom follies directed by Her Honor, I was more disgusted by the attorneys who failed to raise the single most salient issue on behalf of their clients: CPS's failure to make Reasonable Efforts* to prevent the removal of the 416 children or to reunify the families. I don't know all the facts of this case, but even I came up with several alternatives to the traumatic removal without breaking a sweat.

I mean, just how bad of an attorney do you have to be when 380 of you combined can't defeat a single (or at most ten) attorney(s) representing the opposing party, CPS. You'd think just ONE of those learned counsel could have been a good enough attorney to get a kid home. Come on, guys, at least you could justify your arrogance and get it right!

What about that two day limit on the hearing? Can any of those 380 attorneys spell O-B-J-E-C-T-I-O-N (this mass hearing violates due process, and is not consistent with the state and Federal mandates governing shelter hearings)? Or C-O-N-T-I-N-U-A-N-C-E (My client has not seen the allegations and therefore has not been able to prepare a defense). I have seen a proper shelter hearing for one family last three days. Two days? I did the math. . .liberally allotting 20 hours for the two day hearing, divided by 416 (now 437 but who's counting? Certainly not CPS) kids, means each kid was alloted 2.8846 minutes to present his case. Naturally, that must be divided further to include equal time each parent of the child and CPS. I'll be generous, each kid got 60 seconds to convince the court it was safe for him or her to go home. Yes, I know, in law and in theory, the home is presumed safe, but come on. . . the evidence presented by CPS wasn't that convincing.

I understand they got a 3 1/2 hour training course on how to represent their clients. I've seen those courses, they are put on by -- ta da--CPS! Nothing like having your adversary teach you how to represent your clients to stack the deck. But then, CPS probably trained Her Honor, too, which explains the gross violations of law and rights in that kangaroo courtroom.

This is a very esoteric area of law. Not quite civil, not criminal, but a bastardization in which the grey areas far exceed the established black and white areas. Mostly because the child's and parent's attorneys don't make the right arguments, or preserve the appropriate issues for appeals. Believe it or not, the parents attorney's routinely advise their clients, "Do what the caseworker says, kiss her ass, don't piss her off, don't fight this and you'll get your kids back." But when you ask for that guarentee in writing, you won't get it. Statistically 50% of children are never returned. In this case, I think CPS is not giving any of these kids back unless the parents renounce their religion. Think on THAT for a minute. The pregnant mothers were reportedly told by CPS today that their babies would be snatched at birth. I expected that.

Readers, I have created an eight hour CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION course on this subject which has been accredited in five states. Nobody can teach what these lawyers need to know in less than eight hours. . .I had to dumb it down to keep it within eight hours. Fourteen hours would be best.

Dear parent and child attorney. . .I'll offer this comprehensive 8 hour CLE class to any 35 of you at $100 off the $250 attendance fee for the full day seminar if you email me with the names and contact information of who will attend and you provide the location. I have the multimedia equipment, I just need a screen and a big enough room. I'll even cover my own expenses. This presentation will include Texas specific law for use in your cases.

This was a shocking denial of due process considering the shelter hearing is a post deprivation hearing, intended to insure the child and parents are not being deprived of their fundamental human right to family association without just cause. The state bears the burden of proof at this hearing that the child is at realistic identifiable risk of serious harm. If they don't have sufficient evidence to support a finding that the child is in danger in the home, AND if no services can be put into place in the home to insure the child's safety, only then can the court keep the child in foster care. If there is to be an error, the law mandates that it should be to keep the child in the home.

I think I'll be contacting the U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families for the Texas region demanding an investigation into the Reasonable Efforts findings on these cases: specifically whether the court record contains evidence to support a reasonable efforts finding, and see if I can do something about their Federal Funding under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.

As for the attorneys. . .stay tuned. I will be discussing what the attorneys should be doing, and aren't.

* I have a much better pdf copy of this document. To request it, email your request to ME

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS and Carolyn Jessop

NOTE to reader: this discussion today is not about the religious practices of FLDS. I’ll discussFLDS in a later blog, so be patient and stay on topic with me today.

“I was standing in a copy store this afternoon when my cell phone rang. It was Carolyn Jessop. ‘They raided the compound. It’s sealed off. They went in there with an armored personnel carrier, Texas Rangers, everything.’” Quoting Laura Palmer, 360° Writer.

After watching the news about the CPS shelter hearings following the raid on the FLDS Ranch in Texas on Friday, I feel like I've been Jerry Springered through the looking glass into a fascist horrorland. This is probably because I was observing the players and analyzing the process while I waited for the evidence to surface which would support the horrifying allegations.
Instead of seeing impartial facts and credible evidence, I saw aboulic accusations flying, emotionally charged rhetoric, and fatally flawed analysis by so-called experts who postured in front of camera after camera. 

Yes, I know, sensationalism sells, but this is supposed to be journalism. It appeared that the media–and others–had assumed a mob mentality modeled by CPS, completely flipping out, going verbally postal, sacrificing the children and families at stake in their intolerant desire to wreak holy vengeance on a church, a religion, a culture, an entire community. It was Reality TV at it worst. 

And the serenely smug, rabble-rousing star of this multi-network reality TV lark is none other than the bitter ex-wife of the local church leader, Merrill Jessop. I am, of course, referring to best selling author, Carolyn Jessop. This makes for an interesting dynamic, don’t you think?

Ms. Jessop was the featured expert on every cable news network for days, because of her recently published book, Escape, which purportedly details her life in the FLDS church in lurid Technicolor. Did I say recently published? Let’s not be shy, it was published 6 months ago, in October, 2007.She had made the book promotion rounds, Good Morning, American, Oprah, et al, and by now, the publicity whirlwind associated with a new release had dissipated.

Did I say bitter ex-wife? She says herself in her book that she hated Merrill Jessop for the entire seventeen years she was with him. That kind of carefully nurtured hate doesn’t just evaporate when you flee the relationship. She had eight children with him, whom she took with her when she left. She tried to get a restraining order against and fought against his right to visitation and lost, something that Carolyn later had got changed with the help of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. She reportedly used her son’s illness to accomplish that.

What I see going on here is the same dynamic that is played out in thousands of courtrooms every day–the battle for the kiddies when parents separate. Some of these battles get downright ugly. I’m speaking of the ones where there is a vengeful or vindictive ex who wants to control the other. The standard tactics employed by the vindictive ex include allegations of child abuse, attempts to get restraining orders based on allegations of domestic violence, keeping the other parent from seeing the kiddies by any means necessary and extracting the maximum amount of child support from the non-custodial ex and making their lives hell when the money isn’t forthcoming. Commonly practiced divorce/custody dirty tactics.

Ms. Jessop has proven to be a masterful spin doctor of facts and manipulator of public perception. I’m seeing her employ the exact same controlling manipulation she alleges is practiced in the FLDS communities.

Based on her own descriptions, it’s not just that the men are abusive, the entire culture appears to be dysfunctional. Sister wives hating each other, devious machinations and abusive manipulations being served upon each other all the time? Wives hating husbands and using sex as a power tool? Control freak emotional abuse being practiced by everyone equally to establish a pecking order? Without realizing it, she describes her full participation in these dysfunctional machinations. Her account describes the pervasive disrespectful manipulation of others as part of the culture she lived in and in which she effectively participated.

It looks to me like you can take the girl out of the FLDS manipulation dynamic, but you can’t take the FLDS manipulation dynamic out of the girl.
I don’t doubt she’s the victim she portrays herself to be. And she has exploited this image very effectively. But as CPS is so fond of saying, victims will go on to victimize unless you can break the cycle of abuse. As long as she is immersed in her own victimhood, and remains in denial about her own culpability in her exercising similarly dysfunctional conduct inside and outside of that culture, Ms. Jessop can only perform as she was conditioned to perform. She uses machinations and manipulation to garner public sympathy and achieve her own agenda.

I see a very hurt and angry woman who has not let go of her hate of the church or of her family or of her husband. She has not healed and she has not moved on. It looks like she still needs vengeance for what was done to her. Why do I say that? Let’s look at the facts:

FACT: The investigation into the FLDS ranch in Texas and the ensuing raid was precipitated by a hotline phone call. This is a quote from the affidavit seeking a court order to pick up the children:

On March 29, 2008, the Department received an intake report at 11:32 p.m. According to the intake, a teenaged mother (age 16) and her infant child (age approximately 8 months) were requesting assistance to enable them to leave the YFZ Ranch located near Eldorado, Schleicher County, Texas,

The affidavit goes on to the detail the content of those conversations.

RESULT: This alleged child mother has never been found in the FLDS community. FLDS members say she doesn’t exist. Yet this phone call formed the sole basis of the caseworker’s testimony that adult men were having sex with underage girls.

FACT: An arrest warrant and affidavit also issued for a Dale Barlow (who was alleged to be the spiritual husband who impregnated the unknown 16 year old caller).

RESULT: Barlow was reportedly in Arizona the entire time. This tends to indicate that the person(s) making this call knew he was at the ranch in the past, but did not know where he was currently. It could also indicate that the person making the call did not understand the instructions given and relayed the information incorrectly.

FACT: Carolyn Jessop, received many phone calls from this same unknown sixteen year old caller for about three weeks before the hotline call was made. The caller would spend over an hour at a time speaking with her about what she was suffering. CNN filmed Ms. Jessop receiving these phone calls on the speaker phone and aired some of the conversations on the Larry King show.

QUESTION: These calls were received by Ms. Jessop on her cell phone. It has not been explained how someone might get her cell phone number so one can reasonably assume Ms. Jessop gave it to the caller.

FACT: According to Ms. Jessop, she was married to Merrill Jessop at eighteen, because her father told her she had to if she wanted to go to college. She was Jessop's 4th wife. She had 8 children by her "spiritual husband." Merrill Jessop oversees the ranch and is a presiding elder in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), the sect in charge of the compound in Eldorado, Texas.

COMMENT: She loses credibility points with me here, she was an adult when she married. This wasn't a child marriage. And, she stayed in the polygamous marriage for 17 years. If she saw children being abused, she must be held as accountable as the mothers whose children were just taken.

FACT: Carolyn Jessop is the bestselling author of Escape (Publisher: Broadway (October 16, 2007). In the book publishing industry, authors are expected to promote their own books, especially authors who are not big names. Yes, Carolyn Jessop has a best seller, but she has most likely just barely, if at all, received her first royalty payments. Royalties will be calculated deducting the advance she was given when the book was purchased by the Broadway imprint of Random House. She must promote her own book to keep the sales up. What better way to promote your book than to get as much face time in the media as possible– this is especially effective in conjunction with a nationally sensational current event–making sure that each time you appear, the talking head mentions that you are the author of. . .fill in the blank. Hey, before you start sputtering, let me remind you that I’m a published author, I’ve appeared on television, we all know how it works. Obviously it is safe to conclude that with this media blitz of free publicity, Ms. Jessop’s book sales are wa-a-ay up.

FACT: Jessop is an outspoken critic of FLDS, and of CPS's refusal to intervene and take the children of the FLDS communities, "[i]n Eldorado, the crimes went to a whole new level. They thought they could get away with more" but "Texas is not going to be a state that's as tolerant of these crimes as Arizona and Utah have been." Let’s be honest, and without judging the right or wrong of it, the fact is she clearly has a mission to destroy the FLDS church. Her quotes on the numerous television shows and in newspapers recently have been quite revealing to the astute observer, including statements
that the mothers must be held accountable for allowing their children to be subjected to sexual and physical abuse,
the mothers need help but they cannot break free from the control of FLDS unless they are held accountable,
that it doesn't matter that the hotline call may have been bogus, now that CPS got their foot in the door, the intervention is legitimate,
she kept insisting that there were many underage marriages and effectively focused on men having sex with children

Quote: “Jessop doesn't think authorities overreacted in preparing for the worst when they called in an armored personnel carrier, K9 dog units and ambulances during tense negotiations to enter the temple. ‘This group absolutely could turn violent,’ she said, adding that Warren Jeffs had reintroduced the use of guns into the community, which had for a time limited hunting to the use of bow and arrows.”
Quote: Carolyn Jessop also said that the sect practices “a form of pedophilia hiding behind a religion as a protection. There’s just a desire to control and manipulate and torture people, and religion is just used as the cover.”
Quote: "So Warren [Jeffs] would arrange for the crime, and then perform the crime," said Jessop, who left the sect and her husband in 2003. "I can't imagine the trauma that some of these younger girls must have gone through."

FACT: Arizona, Texas and Utah are where the three main FLDS communities are.

FACT: Arizona received the exact same hotline call here and here, alleging the same facts but alleging they occurred at the Arizona community. Arizona declined to investigate an anonymous hotline call stating it did not constitute probable cause.

FACT: A Colorado Springs woman has been arrested for allegedly making a false report of child abuse which precipitated the Texas FLDS raid. This was allegedly the woman who had been calling Jessop posing as a 16 year old with a baby prior to making the hotline calls, discovered through a phone trace.

FACT: A review of the testimony given during the two day Preliminary Placement hearing reveals almost no credible evidence of abuse or neglect - certainly not objectively or legally sufficient to justify holding all 416 children in state custody. The mothers who testified stated they were married when they were over 18 and they would advise their daughters to wait to marry until they were older, which testimony was not refuted by any other first hand witness. Day 1 and Day 2 and overview.

FACT: Online and television video interviews from numerous sources reveal that some of the "children" in custody are adults over 18, or married (not all plural marriages) and emancipated–neither of which fall under the jurisdiction of CPS. One lawyer tried to tell the judge his "child" client was 20 years old, which the judge was not interested in.

Observation: Ms. Jessop presents very well. Many abusers do, too. I have been steadfastly critical of so-called professionals who lack the basic discernment skills to accurately assess a person’s character. Abusers are often charming, charismatic and convincing. They fool caseworkers, Judges, Guardians at litem and other professionals all the time. 

In contrast, the abuser’s victims are often portrayed as and present as a total mess, often as a direct result of the abuse. I’m not saying Ms. Jessop is an abuser. I am saying that Ms. Jessop presents the same calculated poise and demeanor that I’ve seen before which is used as an artificial facade intended to hide the truth.

Her practiced poise cannot hide her smug demeanor and carefully crafted language on the television interviews and in the myriad newspaper articles suggesting extreme satisfaction at a successful revenge. No matter how she tries to appear calm and rational, she can't hide her hatred of the FLDS people, not in her book, and not in her interviews. This hate has consumed her.

The phone calls filmed by CNN reveal even more. She got another call after the hotline hoax was exposed–and incidentally, shortly after the suspected hoaxter bailed out–and she was unconvincing when she stated the caller was lying. . .it looked like she distancing herself from the caller because this person was now a potential liability. Think about it, all any wacko had to do was read Jessop's book for the details to make her sound convincing. Even without a (gasp, I’ll use the “C” word) conspiracy, all Jessop had to do was feed into the wacko’s delusion to maintain innocence and still manipulate the wacko. Trust me, the issue of child abuse is overly represented by the wackos on both sides of the issue. I really wish those phone conversations had been all been taped, it would provide valuable insight into the dynamic.

Both Merrill and Carolyn Jessop appear to be strong-willed individuals, and have achieved positions of stature in their respective communities. This plays like the Clash of the Titans. And while Merrill Jessop hasn't been reported to be proselytizing his beliefs outside of FLDS, Carolyn Jessop seems to have adopted a winner take all philosophy, effectively imposing her beliefs upon an entire church by force of law.

Finally, fantastic coincidences abound in this saga, all of them profoundly beneficial to Ms. Jessop' and her agenda. One coincidence is plausible, but I'm not buying all of them as being serendipitous.

I believe that Carolyn Jessop (why did she keep the name of the man she hates?) has pulled off the biggest, baddest, most vengeful ex-spouse custody coup of all time. She not only kept the bad daddy from seeing her own kiddies, she got all his other kiddies taken away from him and all the mean sister-wives and all the kiddies of all the mommies and daddies who are friends with her ex-husband taken away, too. And she manipulated an incompetent and gullible bureaucracy to do it, complete with an angry mob egging the system on.

Once could reasonably conclude this extremely controversial and emotional issue was exploited, is being exploited, and used to justify a personally vengeful religious witch hunt and the wholesale violations of civil rights of an entire village. It's very disturbing to me. And I think Ms. Jessop has manipulated these events from the lofty pedestal of a best selling author, while maintaining plausible deniability. It is a superbly elegant manipulation.
I may be wrong, but I don’t think so.