SAN ANGELO, Texas – State child welfare officials are conceding that a newborn's mother, who belongs to a polygamous sect and has been held in foster care as a minor, is an adult.
A Child Protective Services attorney told state District Judge Barbara Walther on Tuesday that the mother of a boy born April 29 is not a minor. She had been held with underage girls since CPS moved more than 400 children from the sect's ranch to shelters across the state.
The San Angelo Standard Times reported that CPS would continue to seek custody of the newborn.
The baby was the first born to a sect member in custody. A second was born Monday.
More than two dozen girls held in state custody claim they are actually adults.
The second baby was born to a mother taken from a polygamist sect and being held as a minor in state custody.
State officials acknowledged the mother may be an adult, and said they were trying to determine her true age. Since state officials raided the sect's West Texas ranch on April 3, child welfare officials have taken custody of all its children on the grounds that they were endangered by the sect's underage and polygamous spiritual marriages.
A state district judge issued an injuction Monday preventing CPS from moving the newborn and mother from Travis County until a hearing Thursday, in which father Dan Jessop will request his wife and three children be released from state custody.
Rod Parker, an attorney and spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, accused state officials of deliberately holding a pregnant mother they to knew to be of legal age so they could take her baby into custody upon birth.
"They just wanted to keep the mother in custody until they could get the baby," Parker said.
The newborn's placement in state custody brought the total number of children taken from members of the renegade Mormon sect to 465.
He'll likely stay in state custody even if his mother is an adult. Like other mothers of children under 1 year, she would be allowed to stay with him in a foster-care facility, Crimmins said.
Child welfare officials and state troopers raided the FLDS's Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado after a domestic violence shelter received calls from someone claiming to be an abused 16-year-old girl. The girl has never been found and authorities are investigating whether the calls were a hoax.
Under Texas law, children under the age of 17 generally cannot consent to sex with an adult.
Church officials deny any children were abused and say the state's actions are a form of religious persecution.
FLDS broke away from the mainline Mormon church, which officially renounced polygamy more than a century ago.