Texas House Human Services Committee Hearing – Lessons Learned

I just watched the broadcast of the Committee hearing that was held 4-14-09. Yesterday the House Human Services Committee took testimony about lessons learned from the response and outcome to the Eldorado action. I was not all that interested in this initially because I thought it would simply be a show of self-justification by Texas government. I was wrong!

The Committe heard from:

The CPS Commissioner
Legal Aid Lawyer – represented mothers
Scott McCown- retired family law judge
Willie Jessop – FLDS spokesman
Susan Hays – attorney ad litem
Natalie Malonis – attorney ad litem
Jerri Lyn Ward – represented a father
“Parent Advocate” – didn’t catch her name
Deborah Brown – CASA

The Committee, chaired by Patrick Rose, gave everyone an opportunity to speak as long as they wanted. They asked good questions and it did not appear to me to be a rubber stamp of approval for CPS AT ALL. In fact, they took CPS to task and questioned the propriety of their actions from the raid to the nonsuits.

The Commissioner was well-spoken but seemed a little uninformed and some of her testimony really seemed canned. But I understand she is new and wasn’t in that position until late in the game. She was left to justify her predecessor’s actions. Darby, in particular, seemed keenly interested in why the cases were nonsuited and why CPS would just rely on statements from FLDS that they would protect their children. It was pointed out that there was widespread deception and there’s no way to know if kids are safe now because there’s no more court involvement and no way to monitor what’s happening. The Commissioner did admit that it’s basically a crapshoot now. Thw Committe was not satisfied that Texas did enough to protect the children and they seemed genuinely interested in how to fix problems and doit better in the future.

Willie – I’ll get to him in a minute.

Of all the testimony, I thought the judge, Susan Hays and Natalie Malonis were the most balanced and informative. The three of them seemed to agree on many things – all three testified that the problem was not really going to be addressed with the proposed legislation. The problem was_ – CPS was not using the tools that were available to them already, so giving them more tools wouldn’t do any good. All three acknowledged that there are some things CPS did well, but all three were also strident in their remarks that CPS dropped the ball, and they suggested ways that it should have been handled differently. McCown and Malonis both acknowledged that CPS had an overwhelming task and part of the poor outcome was beyond CPS’ control – the system was simply not designed to handle this type of situation. Hays wasn’t willing to let CPS off the hook so easily and wanted perfection in every decision and she kind of pre-supposed an ideal world of unlimited resources and perfect knowledge. Both Hays and Malonis complained that CPS did not cooperate and participate with AALs and CASA like they were supposed to. There were accusations that CPS withheld evidence and proceeded improperly and contrary to the evidence and recommendations of the AALs and GALs. Both Hays and Malonis also emphasized the imperative that a “Safety Net” be put in place so that women who want help have some support and some access to resources. Hays claimed there was no deception from mothers and children – Malonis disagreed. Hays said there was not enough evidenc to justify the removal of all the kids – Malonis disagreed and stated there was a lot of evidence and all of the kids were in a harmful environment with widespread abuse and neglect.

Something else I thought was really interesting is that the Commissioner and McCown and Malonis all said that the Third Court of Appeals decision was just flat-out wrong. One of the Committee members said that the appellate court misapplied the law. The judge said the decision was an anomaly and would be ignored and have no precedential value. Malonis said the record supported Walthers’ decision and should not have been overturned for “abuse of discretion.”. All three seemed reluctant to criticize the appellate court but went on to express that the decision was wrong. One of the Committee members cleared up exactly what the supreme court opinion meant, and this is the first time I heard this — the supreme court did not concur with the appellate court and did not uphold that decision. Rather, the supreme court “declined to overturn” the appellate decision. The reason it’s stated like that is because CPS did not directly appeal the 3COA decision, but instead petitioned the supreme court for mandamus, asking that the court find that the 3COA abused its discretion. In a nutshell, CPS made it harder for the supreme court to reverse the appellate court because of the way they filed their appeal. The supreme court didn’t affirm the lower court, they just didn’t find the appellate court abused its discretion. It’s a pretty fine point but interesting.

The parents advocates were shrill and too biased to have any real legitimacy.

Willie …

What can you say about Willie? First, I think he should have actually read the proposed legislation before he testified. He really made an ass of himself. He didn’t know what the bill said, he was disrespectful and hostile and evasive and he came across as an organized crime boss trying to protect and justify an organized crime ring. His entire testimony boiled down to this: y’all should not have been able to find about about the crimes we commit and how our children are abused because the call was a hoax –therefore, we’re entitled to continue committing crimes and abusing children because that’s what our soldiers fought and died for.

I kid you not.

Also interesting was the fact that Willie conceded that he does not represent the whole FLDS and has no authority to speak for the group or make declarations about group practices and policies. Kind of calls into question that whole declaration about the FLDS changing their policy on underage marriage.

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~ by FLDS TEXAS on April 15, 2009.

39 Responses to “Texas House Human Services Committee Hearing – Lessons Learned”

  1. I agree totally with your surmation of the commission yesterday.
    Willie lost his cool in the second round of testimony, refused to answer questions in the first round.

  2. Because of my work schedule I heard only Zavenda Jessop’s brief hostile statement, Natalie Malonis’ and part of Jerri Lyn Ward’s testimony. What I know of the rest of it I read here:

    http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2009/apr/15/live-from-the-flds-hearing-in-austin/

    I thought Malonis made some excellent points, including:

    1. The attorney and guardian ad litems should be included in decisions to unsuit children;
    2. Sometimes a bad psych assessment is worse than no psych assessment at all, and fifteen-minute cursory exams are less than useless;
    3. The FLDS received preferential treatment including having mothers present during interviews and during the initial assessment period. Malonis correctly stated that abused children usually protect their abusers in initial interviews and it’s SOP to separate the child from the abuser.
    4. The problem of child sexual abuse is structural within the FLDS and she believes there is potential for continuing child abuse.

  3. I guess this blogger doesn’t see any problem with taking children from innocent parents of whom there is no evidence of abuse as it relates to them personally. That is or should be the outrage here. State-sponsored kidnapping in its vilest form. And everyone seems hunky-dory with it. When someone can explain to me what warranted the taking of Joseph and Lori Jessop’s children, let me know. I’m all ears. Until then, I’ve concluded that you all are really sick people.

  4. ztgstmv – you should listen to all of the testimony. I disagree about what “should be” the outrage. The outrage should be child abuse.

    Here’s what warranted the taking of Joseph and Lori Jessop’s children in the first instance: there was observable evidence that some children were abused in the FLDS community. When CPS interviewed parents and children and began their investigation in an effort to discern which children belonged to which household, CPS was met with such widespread deception and manipulation that it became impossible to rely on any information at face value and without further investigation. As a part of a community that communally and systematically thwarted CPS’ ability to identify true family relations and households, Joseph and Lori Jessop’s children could not immediately be determined to be safe and outside of a household where abuse was taking place.

    However, if you had listened to all the testimony, there was not one witness who said it all went down perfectly and all is hunky-dory. The whole purpose of the hearing was to acknowledge that it was not hunky-dory and that there were problems that needed to be addressed and fixed.

  5. I’ve no expectation that Ziggy can or will go listen, and/or learn.

  6. Ztg, to your knowledge what was to Keep CPS from taking ALL the children??? If you are living in a household of 30 people, mostly children, and you tell CPS you are 12, and your 21, or your 18 and your really 12, do you believe those people should be taken at their word? There were UNDERAGE mothers, who identfied themselves as OLDER, so they could accompany their children to the shelter. Personally, I agree with CPS on one point and this is that point…. THEY SHOULDNT have allowed Mothers to go with children. CPS has NEVER allowed that before, and it caused conflict all the way through the process.

  7. The laws of Texas apply to everyone ztg, regardless race or religion. If CPS hadn’t investigated the call, and not have gone to YFZ ranch, what if there had really been a girl calling for help? What if she got caught making the call? What if that girl had ended up dead?
    Then, Ztg, you would be screaming, Where the Hell was CPS?? You would be saying how the poor girl was killed because authorities got the calls but never responded.

  8. The Rio Grande Legal aide attorney testified that the mothers were honest about who their children were and the DNA tests proved it. CPS saying the mothers were decietful doesn’t make it so. It is also noteworthy that the ACLU filed a friend of court brief to SCOTX in defense of the parents, obviusly they agreed with the 3rdCOA’s decision. So does that mean the ACLU is in league with child molestors?

    Willie didn’t arrived on the scene till after the raid, we also know the underage marriages stopped nearly 2 years prior when Warren was arrested which is evidence that the FLDS stopped “condoning” them in 2006. Any testimony given by Willie related to the goings on on the Ranch prior to the Raid would have been hearsay on his part. It is this “single household” mentality working again, perhaps some YFZ residents personally don’t have a problem with underaged marriages, does that fact mean that “YFZ” condones underage marriage? I don’t have an issue with 16 year olds getting married especially since it is legal for monogamists to do so…that doesn’t mean my community or church condones marriages with 16 year olds.
    There is nothing in FLDS “canon” that specifies how old a girl must be when she is to be married, given that…then you can’t assert that the FLDS condones underage marriages.

  9. Duane, none of those children were married. Those married men who had sex with them and made babies with them never could have married them under Texas laws nor any other US State’s laws.

    25% of the grown YFZ males are indicted. Another 25% committed the same criminal acts in other States prior moving to Texas, that’s a total of some 50% of YFZ males sexually assaulting underaged females.

    There are so many more crimes they’re being looked at for, State and Federal. BTW, those childrens’ mothers and fathers are as at fault criminally for aiding abbetting and allowing their childrens’ sexual abuse.

  10. duane, how do we know underage marriages didn’t continue?? Warren was getting names of unmarried girls in his dictations in 2007. He can appoint one of his bishops to marry who he pleases. Your not stupid enough to believe Flds are you??

    DNA and whether they matched anyone weren’t even made in the testimony yesterday. And we know that there were some canadians girls at the ranch, so whose DNA did they match???

  11. Retired District Judge McCowan, said the Supreme Court ruling did NOT set any precident, it was just agreeing with the appelite’s court ruling.

  12. Grannytoad, Talk is cheap, facts are harder to come by.
    You can pull whatever you want out of your ass, but you doing so doesn’t make it so.
    About those 12, the trials haven’t started yet, whatever happens it involves only those 12.

    They are back at YFZ, the police can’t come on it without another warrant, it is still private property. I don’t expect them to resume underage marriages and in the absence of evidence acquired constitutionally, I will assume they are not breaking the law and content to let them lead their own lives without interference from busybodies. Hopefully they will post additional guards and arm them with sniper rifles and night vision cuz I’m really worried some of you nutters may plan to invade the ranch and try to hurt them. Remember Texas has a castle law, they can defend themselves with deadly force without having to retreat.

  13. deputydog1, how do you know underage marriages are still taking place? How do we know you aren’t molesting little pre-pubescent boys?

  14. duaneh, stupidity reigns in your mind. Private Property or not, a warrant can be issued if someone is accused of wrong doing. Just living on private property doesn’t mean you can commit crimes, dumbass.

  15. Texans and others are far more concerned about “you nutters”, duane, when it comes to anarchy, chaos and violence. You make it plain you are backing people who have no regard for the US Constitution nor any State’s laws.

  16. deputydawg, I know that, but they will need probable cause…let’s see what story they make up the next time…at any rate I’m sure YFZ gained some experience and will be better prepared if it happens again.
    My point is, they can live on the ranch and in the absence of any evidence or probable cause, we should leave them alone. I mean really, what are you going to do about it? Should we be able to come on to their private property and search their dwellings whenever we feel like it?

  17. Grannytoad, what should we do? Shoot them?

  18. omg – onthestreet found billm’s blog and has had a revelation he just had to express.

  19. duaneh1 are you flds?

  20. I wish duane had had an opportunity to testify at that hearing. I would have enjoyed hearing the Committee’s questions and response to him. Willie got flustered because he was not able to throw out his usual constitutional hyperbole and nonsensical rhetoric that the media never questions. It was a different atmosphere for Willie in that hearing, and he was placed under oath and did not have the liberty of claiming the 5th. Those legislators had no problem telling it like it is — they didn’t believe him that he didn’t know that whether there were underage marriages going on at the Ranch.

    Like Representative Darby said when Willie was confused about religious freedom and criminal prosecution:

    “Pedophilia is not a religion Are you saying that it is?”

  21. duane, they can live any damn place they want to, even Texas as long as they follow laws of the state. They had probable cause the first time! On all three warrants.

  22. Like Representative Darby said when Willie was confused about religious freedom and criminal prosecution:

    “Pedophilia is not a religion Are you saying that it is?”
    ________________________________________
    darby rocks. hopefully he’ll keep getting reelected!!!

  23. Duane I don’t reccommend shooting anyone, in particular officers of the law. The would seem to be poor judgment, worse than usual.

  24. I’m not FLDS. 16 year olds having sex isn’t pedophilia. My mom was preggars at 16, my wife’s grandmother was married at 14.
    The only thing I found disturbing was the MJ marriage and there is no evidence she had sex.

  25. MJ wasn’t the only FLDS girl married at age 12. They found another one who was married at 12, plus 3 FLDS girls married at 13.

    And uh that’s a charming anecdote about your wife’s grandmother I guess but it doesn’t demonstrate anything or shed any light on this situation.

  26. Keith Dutson Jr. only had one wife. He was only 20 years old when he and his wife were spiritually married. He and his wife have one child together. His case was clearly not the case of a much older man taking advantage of a child.

    The state of Texas is wrong to prosecute this young man for sexual assault of a child because he could have legally married his wife if he had obtained a marriage license and a judge’s permission. If Keith Dutson Jr. is guilty of anything, he and his wife are only guilty of getting married without a marriage license. The penalty for getting married without a license should be less severe than the punishment for sexual assault of a child.

    Texas has a beef with Warren Jeffs and is cruelly misdirecting its anger on this innocent, young couple.

    I have read some of the nasty hateful things the bigots have posted about Keith and his wife. Some bigots have posted that Keith did not legally marry his wife was not his “favorite.” What a vicious thing to say! How would you bigots like it if someone posted that you were not your spouse’s “favorite?” I suppose you bigots don’t realize how cruel and vicious you are.

    Keith probably did not apply for a marriage license or a judge’s permission before he married his wife because he was ignorant of the changes made to Texas’ marriage laws.

    I pray that the judge and jury will be lenient with Keith Dutson Jr. Laws should not be written or used to destroy young families. How is sending Keith to prison going to help Keith’s wife and their child? It won’t. Children need both of their parents.

  27. I’ve been my husband’s favorite ever since he met me, he wanted to MARRY me right off. You know, the courthouse and license and legal marriage, the whole thing. The right thing.

    It’s what, 3 miles or so from the gates of the compound to the courthouse? We probably had to drive about 30 miles.

    All my children and all his childrens’ births are legally registered. Hint hint

    Anything else I could help you with?

  28. One other thing. The sheriff made a point of coming by the breeding compound with a copy or copies of the new marriage age laws so nobody out there could claim ignorance of Texas law.

  29. Keith Jr could have done it legally, but he decided to do it Warren’s way. That’s why he’s in trouble. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and so he should have gone to the courthouse and gotten it done all legal like. I’m sorry he decided to follow his child abusing profit, but now he will have to live with the consequences. Why doesn’t he now go and get it legalized. Maybe that could mitigate his circumstances. Since he is more than 3 years older than his wife, he is guilty of the abuse just like the old geezers are.

  30. Well shoot maybe, keith jr. just wanted to follow the family tradition and have to register as a sex offender. From Utah’s registry:

    Dutson Merlin S 39 Sexual Abuse of a Child/2nd Degree Felony
    Dutson Michael B 31 Sexual Abuse of a Child-Attempted/3rd Degree Felony & Sexual Abuse of a Child/2nd Degree Felony
    Dutson Todd W 27 Doesn’t Say

  31. charming family tree the dutson family has.

  32. i have a question about the education of the flds. can they not count higher than 150? that’s the number that was given to sheriff doran as how many people total lived on the ranch. there were 3 times that many children alone. its not wonder that cps was unprepared for the staggering amount of children it was presented with. furthermore, all of the ranch has 1 address, no apartment numbers or any other distinguishing factors so all of those who compare it with an apartment complex are wrong. not only don’t the tenants pay rent, they all get mail at the same address. that’s why lori and joseph got caught up in the net. they don’t have a separate address that they can call their own. it’s not like they could produce anything that said 2420 CR 300 #32 or the likes.

    besides, if they are jessops, then joseph is probably related to merril and thereby related to merrianne, raymond and leroy which if he condones what they did means that his children are at risk.

  33. Laura Nugent also testified. She was an ad litem.

  34. Yes, Laura Nugent also. Thank you, I inadvertently left her off.

  35. Joanna Scott is the parent advocate. I’m actually listening to it now. I haven’t had a chance to listen to all of it yet.

  36. what i don’t understand is that the FLDS people from the ranch have been saying that they aren’t on any kind of public assistance, but when one of the ad litems testified, they said that after the child was released from CPS custody the medicaid was discontinued and she had to help the mother get it back so her child could get medical treatment.

  37. Whenever children are taken into CPS custody they are provided Medicaid. Likely that child had no health insurance before the raid. While it may be true that none of the members were receiving public assistance in Texas, some were still receiving public assistance from Utah or Arizona because they continued to use their addresses in those states.

  38. I suspected that many were still recieving public assistance from Utah and Arizona from the beginning when they started saying they were on welfare in Texas. I posted this many times on other sites and was called a liar, LOL.

  39. correcting typo

    *weren’t* on welfare in Texas

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