4 Feb 2009

Report: FLDS child told to manipulate caseworkers

Houston Chronicle - February 3, 2009

by Terry Langford

A 14-year-old thought to be the youngest bride of jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was advised through text messages to “please stay angry” and to “keep crying, pout, sleep in” in an attempt to manipulate Texas caseworkers, according to a report filed with a San Angelo court.

The girl is the only one of 439 children taken in last year’s raid of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ranch in Eldorado who remains in foster care.

In a report to state District Judge Barbara Walther, filed Jan. 27 in San Angelo, the girl’s guardian ad-litem reported that a prepaid cell phone was given to the girl by her biological mother, Barbara Jessop.

The foster family notified Texas Department of Child Protective Services that she had the phone and it was confiscated by the agency after several text messages were discovered on it, seemingly coming from the girl’s mother and others.

“Please stay angry,” read one incoming message. “We need you to keep crying, pout, sleep in,” read another. “CPS needs to see that you are miserable there.”

Records seized from the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, including excerpts from Jeffs’ journals, indicate the girl was married to Jeffs when she was 12. Jeffs is the jailed leader of the FLDS, a breakaway Mormon sect that practices polygamy.

Court officials in San Angelo confirmed this week that a report on the cell phone incident and its messages was filed last week by the Children’s Advocacy Center, the girl’s guardian ad-litem. Walther has ordered the district clerk's office not to release the report.

Jessop has asked Walther to seal the document and a hearing on that request is scheduled before Walther on Friday, court officials confirmed Tuesday. The judge will also be hearing a motion from the girl’s attorney ad litem, Carmen Dusek, to withdraw from the case. It is not known why Dusek has asked to withdraw. She declined to comment on Tuesday.

A copy of the report, bearing the district clerk’s stamp, was emailed Tuesday afternoon to the Houston Chronicle from a source who asked to remain anonymous.

The Chronicle asked the Children’s Advocacy Center in San Angelo to verify that it was the document filed in Walther’s court. Debra Brown, the agency’s executive director, verified Tuesday night that it was her agency’s document filed with the court last week.

The report also stated that there 36 incoming messages and 88 outgoing ones. Four phone numbers were recorded on the phone. Two of the numbers originated from San Antonio, one from Adkins, Texas and a fourth from Utah.

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