West Texas children placed near Luling
By LPR Staff
National headlines came to Caldwell County last weekend as more than 70 children removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound near Eldorado, Texas, were placed at the Baptist Children’s Youth Ranch near Luling.
According to Caldwell County Judge H.T. Wright and County Sher
iff Daniel Law, the children arrived at the ranch, which carries a Luling address but is actually located in Gonzales County, over the weekend. Law said that security has been increased at the ranch, and that Caldwell County might expect some impact from the placement of the children.
“Because [the ranch] is closer to Luling and Lockhart than it is to Gonzales, families might look for hotels here in the county when they come to visit the kids,” Law said during the Commissioners’ Court meeting on Monday.
Additionally, Law said, Gonzales County Sheriff Glen A. Sachtelben has requested that Law and his staff be prepared to offer assistance should things get “out of hand” at the youth ranch, and Law has agreed to that request.
“We’re going to be available to help them with anything that they need,” he said.
Though representatives of the Baptist Children’s Youth Ranch and it’s parent organization, Baptist Child and Family Services, could not be reached for comment regarding the placement, their website indicates the ranch has been “modified to be exclusive to caring for the FLDS children.” Whether this means other children placed at the ranch were moved to other homes, so only FLDS children would be at the ranch, is unknown.
“The children are being treated with the utmost consideration, care and respect,” the website, bcfs.net, said. “Special attention is being paid to ensuring their special dietary and religious needs are honored and met.”
The plight of the FLDS children came to the national spotlight last month when a series of phone calls to a domestic violence hotline triggered an investigation of the sect’s Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch and the removal of more than 463 women and children from the compound.
Though investigations of the phone calls reveal they may not have come from a 16-year-old girl forced into an abusive marriage, as authorities originally believed, it also revealed that nearly 60 percent of the girls between the ages of 14 and 17 removed from the YFZ Ranch either have children or are currently pregnant. One girl, whose name and age were withheld by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service (DFPS), gave birth to a son in San Marcos on Tuesday. Though members of the sect on hand for the birth insist the girl was over 18, state officials say otherwise.
The investigation into allegations of abuse and the marriage of underage girls to older men at the compound in Eldorado continues, and the children placed at the Baptist Children’s Youth Ranch could remain there until at least June 5.