In arguing that the appellate court was wrong on the FLDS Sunny Hostin perpetuates some very popular myths that help CPS and many people following the story to assuage their guilt about the hostile actions being heaped upon this fringe community. Here we will debunk some of those myths. Thanks to the format of Ms. Hostin’s commentary it will be easy to take it a point at a time.
Isn’t this a polygamist ranch we are talking about? Under Texas law, it’s illegal to be married to more than one person. Weren’t all of these children living on a ranch purchased in 2003 and built by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the group, who was convicted last year in Utah of being an accomplice to rape?
Yes they were.
This is guilt by association using Warren Jeffs as a convenient Straw Man. The argument would be much stronger if Jeffs had stepped foot on the ranch in the past two years.
Weren’t there 20 girls living at the ranch who had become pregnant between the ages of 13 and 17 and “spiritually married” to old men picked for them by Jeffs or his followers?
Yes there were.
Um, no, there weren’t. The original estimate was 26 and was later upwardly revised to 31. Of those 31 fifteen were proven to be over 17 and one was 14 but was not and never had been pregnant. So only 15 might fit the description but of those 15 we have no data on how old any of them were within the 13 – 17 range and it is possible for any 16 or 17 year-old to be legally married and thus legitimately pregnant. No evidence has been put forth to prove that any of those 15 were married against their will or illegally “married”. We may speculate that some or all of them were, but in a court of law speculation carries no weight.
And if you live on this ranch, don’t you believe in polygamy, arranged marriages between young girls and old men, and that Jeffs is a prophet?
I would think so.
And yet we know of families living on the ranch who did not believe in those things. Probability is high for any family believing in those things but CPS made no distinctions and last I checked we don’t discriminate against belief in this country so they need something more solid than that.
And if you are a young girl that lives on this ranch, isn’t it true you will also be “spiritually married” to an old man chosen for you? Yes to that too. And isn’t this dangerous for the children? What do you think?
Dangerous for which children – note that the standard in Texas for removing children from their parents is “immediate danger.” What is the immediate danger to a five year-old?
There are some fundamental problems with the court’s opinion. The court states that because not all FLDS families are polygamous or allow their female children to marry as minors, the entire ranch community does not subscribe to polygamy. Wrong.
So the entire ranch does subscribe to polygamy – just not the entire ranch . . . I must be missing something.
The court even reasoned that under Texas law, “it is not sexual assault to have consensual intercourse with a minor spouse to whom one is legally married” and that Texas law “allows minor to marry — as young as age 16 with parental consent and younger than 16 if pursuant to court order.” Wrong again.
So the argument here is that it is sexual assault to have consensual intercourse with a minor spouse. This implies that Texas condones sexual assault since it explicitly allows minors to get married as stated above.
The polygamists are not “legally married” to anyone since it is illegal to marry more than one person. They are “spiritually married” and abusing young girls. Finally, the court also states there “was no evidence that …. the female children who had not reached puberty, were victims of sexual or other physical abuse or in danger of being victims if sexual or other physical abuse.”
Oh, I get it. The Department should wait until the kids are actually abused before doing anything.
Actually, these older men are legally married to one of their wives – only the other wives may be cause for abuse charges if they are underage. (If they are not underage then this is just a publicly recognized extra-marital affair – have we started prosecuting those in Texas?) Ms. Hostin is ignoring a huge loophole in the opinion of the appelate court – they recognize that girls who have reached puberty may be deemed to be in immediate danger so CPS can act before they are abused. Of the 450 kids taken, half were under 5 – definitely not in immediate danger. Of the remaining 225 the boys under 16 and the girls under 10 are not in immediate danger of abuse.
Whatever number of children that leaves (let’s generously estimate that it was 100), CPS would have a legitimate reason to take into state custody while they investigate and prosecute any abuse. By taking all 450 children CPS overstepped their bounds and that is why the appellate court was right – as the Texas Supreme Court ruled last week.