Delayed Reunion Frustrates Sect Parents

Texas polygamist sect members Edward and his wife Dora May are the parents of six children.
The frustration of parents from a polygamist sect mounted Saturday as they continued to wait for the court-mandated return of their children, who were taken into custody by Texas Child Protective Services nearly two months ago for fear of possible abuse.

Parents arrived Friday at the San Angelo courthouse expecting to be reunited with their children after the Texas Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the state overstepped its authority in taking custody of the children. The court ruled the children should be returned to their parents.

However, despite a tentative agreement reached early Friday between lawyers on both sides, the children remained in state custody, frustrating the hopes parents had for a reunion.

"There's no relief. There's no way to knowing when relief will be here," said Willie Jessop, a sect spokesman. "There's no way to get cooperation out of the legal system to fix what they did on April 3."

The tentative agreement, which would have returned the children Monday, contained several conditions for the parents, including:

  • Parents would be photographed when they pick up their child.
  • Parents would agree to unannounced home visits as Child Protective Services continues to investigate sexual abuse.
  • Children could not leave the state of Texas or even travel more than 60 miles without permission.

    But after several revisions and an endless stream of concerns from dozens of lawyers representing the mothers, a frustrated Judge Barbara Walther walked of her courtroom saying that if all the lawyers could get their clients to consent and sign the agreement, she would sign it as well, reports CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan. Lawyers for the children were disappointed.

    "At the end of the day, these children need to be at home with their parents," said Andrea Sloan, one of the attorneys representing the children.

    For eight weeks, the more than 460 children taken from the polygamist ranch in El Dorado have been split up in group shelters all over the state.

    "They've had them where they wouldn't eat; they haven't been able to sleep; they've been through an absolute terror of an experience," said Jessop.

    At the Yearning For Zion Ranch, parents hopeful of seeing their children continue to wait.