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More FLDS Woes for CPS

State Child Protective Services took more than 400 children into custody after the FLDS raid last summer; they’ve since dropped 415 of those cases

By Jordan Smith, Fri., Oct. 31, 2008

Child Protective Services has dumped another load of child custody cases prompted by their spring raid of the Yearning for Zion Ranch, the West Texas compound of Mormon breakaway sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At press time, the number of cases dropped by the agency had grown to a whopping 415, according to the Deseret News.

More than 400 children were taken from their families during the raid, which was based on an allegation of abuse that authorities now consider a hoax. Although CPS said they were compelled to remove the children because they were in immediate jeopardy of being sexually abused, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the agency had acted improperly. Since then, the agency has filed a string of nonsuits, dumping the custody cases they initially said were necessary to protect the FLDS children. So far just one girl, a 14-year-old whom officials believe was married at age 12 to imprisoned polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs, remains in foster care.

Meanwhile, the two lawyers who have been coordinating the legal action on behalf of CPS against the FLDS families have resigned from their jobs. Gary Banks, lead counsel when the children were taken from the ranch this spring, resigned in early October to take a job at a private firm. Charles Childress, head of the agency's San Angelo legal team, has tendered his resignation, effective Nov. 1, but has not provided a written explanation for his departure – prompting speculation that Childress might not be pleased with the way things have gone. "I cannot say a word about it," Child­ress told the San Angelo Standard-Times. "There is nothing I can say that wouldn't be out of line."

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