The number of Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints in Texas custody has now reached 460, following the state's decision yesterday that 25 mothers under the age of 18 should not be returned to the FDLS compound, Yearning For Zion. As previously reported, Texas officials raided the YFZ ranch after a tip — allegedly from a 16-year-old inside the compound named Sarah Jessop Barlow — regarding widespread child abuse. Although Sarah has yet to be located (and some believe that "Sarah" is really Rozita Swinton, a pathological liar with an FDLS obsession), Reuters reports that "Texas welfare and law enforcement officials say they have uncovered evidence of widespread child abuse on the grounds, with adolescent girls being forced into unions with much older men." Mothers over the age of 18 were sent home yesterday from the temporary shelter where their children are being held.
A spokesman for Child Protective Services tells Reuters that separating mothers and children is "difficult thing.... But these children must be protected." Over one hundred of the FDLS children have already been placed in foster homes, according to the AP, and the rest will be taken to foster homes and group residences in the next few days. The Texas appeals court is still hearing arguments about whether mothers should be allowed to visit their children while abuse allegations are being investigated, and for now, CPS is trying to keep the FDLS children separate from the greater foster care population as the kids have little or no experience with modern society. Another Child Protective Services spokesperson, Shari Pulliam, tells the AP, "We recognize it's critical that these children not be exposed to mainstream culture too quickly or other things that would hinder their success. We just want to protect them from abuse and neglect. We're not trying to change them."
The extent of the abuse may become more clear once DNA tests of the children and mothers are completed. Scientists believe they will be able to confirm or deny accusations of incest and statutory rape that have been leveled at the sect.