SAN ANGELO, Texas – A teenage member of a polygamous sect who had refused to reveal the whereabouts of her newborn reached an undisclosed agreement Tuesday with authorities seeking a DNA sample from the baby so they can find out whether the father is an adult.
Texas District Judge Barbara Walther ordered that the terms of the compromise between the 17-year-old and the state be kept secret, said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the state department of Child Protective Services.
The girl had previously been ordered to allow the agency to examine the baby, born after the April raid of the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado. Earlier Tuesday, the girl was called to the stand and repeatedly refused to say where the baby was.
"She is living out of state. ... I just don't want anyone to know where she is," said the teenager, wearing a dark blue prairie dress and her hair braided back, the typical style of female members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
She buried her head in her hands and rubbed her eyes at one point as she sat in the hall outside the courtroom with her attorney. Late in the day, she was served with a search warrant by a Texas Ranger, though it was unclear what the warrant was for.
Her attorney Kelly Ellis declined to comment while leaving the courthouse, as did child welfare agency attorney John Dolezal.
State officials believe the girl was married to a man in FLDS when she was 14. In Texas, someone younger than 17 generally cannot consent to sex with an adult. The Associated Press generally does not name possible victims of a sex crime.
FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said the girl is afraid that Texas officials will take the newborn if she allows them to examine her.
"There has been a total breakdown of trust between the mothers and the department," he said, adding that the mothers cooperated with authorities during the initial raid only to have their children taken from them.
He disputed that CPS doesn't know who the baby's father is, citing the thousands of church marriage documents seized from the ranch during the weeklong raid.
A motion filed by the state says the girl gave birth June 14, less than two weeks after she and the other 438 children taken from the ranch were returned from foster care to their parents. The child welfare agency collected DNA from all the children swept from the ranch in April, but the baby was born after the teen mother was returned to her parents.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in May that the state had overreached in placing all the children in foster care when it could show that no more than a handful of teenage girls had been abused. The children were returned in early June, and only one, a teenage girl whose mother wouldn't cooperate with welfare authorities, has been returned to foster care.
All but 36 of the children's cases have been dropped from court oversight.
Twelve FLDS men have now been indicted on charges related to underage marriages and bigamy.
The FLDS is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.