By Ben Winslow
Texas child welfare authorities are accusing a 17-year-old girl from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch of switching babies to avoid having to undergo a DNA test.
In a court filing in San Angelo, Texas, made public on Monday, Child Protective Services urges a judge to cancel a Friday hearing over the girl and order her to undergo a psychological evaluation.
The girl, who was 16 at the time she was taken into state custody during the raid on the YFZ Ranch, gave birth to a baby in June. State officials believe the girl was married at age 14. The girl refused to bring her baby to a November court hearing. At a subsequent meeting between CPS and the girl, lawyers for the agency said she brought a child she claimed to be her baby.
"However, genetic testing proved that the child produced was not (the girl's) biological child," CPS attorney John R. Dolezal wrote. "Upon learning of this deception, (CPS) immediately confronted the problem by attempting to set up another meeting at which the Department … could observe (the girl) with her child and genetic testing of the child could be performed."
On the eve of the Jan. 9 meeting, CPS claims the girl's attorneys said she would not be producing the child.
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"Specifically, it appears (the girl) has been separated from her child," Dolezal wrote. "Additionally, petitioner is concerned that (the girl) is being improperly influenced, against her best interest, into making choices not to produce her child and to produce another individual's child. These circumstances cause petitioner to have great concern for the emotional well being of (the girl)."
FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said the girl has expressed fear about her baby being taken from her by CPS to the judge and the court.
"It's a clear show of the breakdown of trust between the department and the FLDS," he told the Deseret News on Monday.
The girl is only one of two children still under court oversight in what was once the nation's largest child custody case. Acting on a phone call from someone claiming to be an abused, pregnant teen, CPS and law enforcement raided the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado back in April. The call is now believed to be a hoax, but on site authorities claimed to have found other evidence of abuse that prompted a judge to order the removal of all of the children.
The other girl, a 14-year-old whom CPS alleges was married at age 12 to FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, has been ordered returned to foster care after a judge ruled her mother could not protect her from abuse. A custody trial is scheduled for later this year.
"I don't think the department's been concerned about abuse to women and children," Jessop said Monday. "It's what they could do to drive us out of the state."