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Twelve FLDS Kids to Be Returned to Parents
Aired May 23, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, GUEST HOST: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in for Nancy Grace. Breaking news tonight. The head-to-head legal battle over more than 400 children rescued from an isolated Texas compound kicks into high gear. After allegations of systematic marriage and childbirth forced on girls as young as 13, plus abuse of little boys and 41 known children with broken bones, a three-judge appeals panel rules there is no imminent threat to the children, virtually sending them straight back behind compound walls.
But tonight, Texas authorities step in, announcing they will fight back with an appeal, the case now headed all the way to the Texas supreme court. And as we go to air tonight, CPS suddenly reveals 12 children are set to return to the custody of their parents. Why?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got some news coming in to us about those children taken from that polygamist compound in Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While the appeal is going on, 12 of the children will be allowed to live with their parents under state supervision. State welfare officials have agreed to allow the parents and children to live together in the San Antonio area but under state supervision. This is all while the appeal is going on. Texas Child Protective Services are appealing the appeals court decision saying that it was wrong to seize more than 440 children from the ranch run by the fundamentalist church.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no force here. Everyone has their choice to do exactly what they would like. There is no force. And we want the children and they want us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And tonight, a quiet Virginia community in shock after a 16-month-old baby boy is viciously attacked by a pit bull, his injuries so severe, the little boy needs reconstructive surgery and numerous stitches to his face. The pit bull, once friendly with all the neighborhood kids, leaps onto the baby boy while chained up in the yard. Tonight: Are the owners who chained the dog to blame?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another vicious pit bull attack. A 16-month-old boy is recovering from reconstructive surgery after his face was ripped open by a neighbor`s pit bull. Jacob Brady (ph) is now resting at home after requiring 90 stitches from the dog mauling that happened near his family`s home. Police say there have never been any complaints about the dog up until this incident and Jacob had routinely played with the pit bull in the past. The pit bull is now in the custody of animal control officers, who have yet to determine if the dog will be euthanized.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I close my eyes, I see his -- you know, I see his face the way it looked right afterwards. I see the dog jumping on him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For every story that you hear about it, that`s all it is. It just takes one time for the dog to snap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in for Nancy Grace. Breaking news tonight. The battle over more than 400 children removed from an isolated Texas polygamist compound now heads for the Texas supreme court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happening right now, Child Protective Services in Texas has filed an appeal to the state supreme court of an appeals court ruling in the polygamist case. Yesterday, that court, the appeals court, ruled that the state had no right to remove more than 400 kids from the Yearning for Zion polygamist retreat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had no contact and they continually boxed us in, boxed us in. They told us we were going to the pavilion to reunite mothers and children. Then they took the mothers away from the children, only compounding the trauma that the children were once under.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That court said that the children must be released within 10 days.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the breaking news. Twelve of those children could be headed back to their parents. It seems that the state welfare officials have agreed to allow the parents and children to live together in the San Antonio area but under state supervision.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Church members say the appeal filed today doesn`t surprise them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re dealing (ph) with our lives and they`re treating us like animals. I can`t trust a single person now!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in for Nancy Grace. It`s an epic battle in the Lone Star State that has captivated the country. The polygamist moms cheered as the 3rd district court sided with them, saying Texas child services did not prove their kids were in immediate danger. But now child services is fighting back with an appeal, saying their duty is to protect kids. But meantime, they`re letting a dozen go back with their parents? Huh?
For the very latest on this fast-breaking story, let`s go straight out to Jenny Hoff, reporter for CNN affiliate KXAN. She is at the courthouse in San Angelo, Texas. Jenny, what is the very latest?
JENNY HOFF, KXAN: Jane, just a few minutes ago, the first day of an adversary hearing for a child that was born while his mother was in state custody ended. Now, Louisa (ph) and Dan Jessop (ph) are married. They say they are in a monogamous relationship and they have three children. Well, Louisa Jessop was in this disputed minors` category until she gave birth to her son in Austin. A few minutes later, CPS said that she was actually 22 years old, but they kept her newborn in state custody.
Well, today, is the adversary hearing for that newborn baby. It`s the same hearing that all 400 children had several weeks ago, and that lasted two days. This one`s going to continue on Tuesday because Judge Barbara Walter (ph) said since the court believed she didn`t take in enough evidence, she`s going to make this one last as long as possible so she can make the correct decision. So it`s going to be pretty interesting today, depending -- to see what CPS did earlier and what the court decided, if she`s going to return that newborn to her parents, or if she`s going to keep that newborn in state custody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jenny, by the way, you are looking at video right now that we have just obtained of the children being reunited with their parents. And some of the pictures are blurred to protect the privacy of some of the minors, but that is dramatic stuff coming in now as we speak.
I`d like to go to Michael Board, who has been covering this from the very beginning, reporter, WOAI Newsradio. Can you make sense of this? Because on the face of it, it doesn`t seem to make a lot of sense. The district court rules against child services, saying, You didn`t have the right to take the kids. Child services fights back with an appeal, but then at the same time says, Well, guess what? A dozen kids can go home.
MICHAEL BOARD, WOAI NEWSRADIO: You know, I wish I could give more -- make more sense out of this, but I really can`t because today`s decision was sealed. We don`t know exactly why CPS decided to make a deal with three families to return their 12 kids. What we do know is today it was approved, and those 12 kids were reunited with their families. Now, no, they are not going back to the compound, luckily. They will be staying here in the San Antonio area with some, I guess, coverage by CPS. They will be watching out with these families...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me -- let me jump in here very quickly. Did Jenny say that with these families, there were some mistakes made? In other words, is this an olive branch, possibly, to prevent a lawsuit?
BOARD: Well, these three families have sued here in San Antonio for what`s called a writ of habeas corpus. They believe the children were being held illegally. And while this whole deal is being sorted our with the state supreme court, CPS said, Well, let`s let these kids stay with their parents instead of in temporary custody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. The phone lines are lighting up. But first let`s unleash the lawyers to try to make sense of all this. We`ve got Doug Burns, defense attorney. We`ve got Susan Moss, family law attorney and child advocate. And we`ve got David Samuel Brown, attorney ad litem for some FLDS children.
Let`s start with Susan Moss. What`s going on here? It sounds to me like they may have messed up with some of these families, and they`re, like, Well, we don`t want to be sued, and let`s just give them something, give them what they want.
SUSAN MOSS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Evidence of sexual abuse, let`s let the children loose! That appellate decision was absurd! There has been pervasive evidence that there is sexual abuse at that ranch, whether it be the five children who gave birth to children, whether it be grooming the boys to be sexual predators, whether it be teaching the young girls that their duty is to become victims of sexual crime. It is absolutely, absolutely a failure to these children, what we have done!
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Flora Jessop, we`re very delighted to have you. You`ve been a frequent guest on this broadcast, former polygamist, former child bride, and executive director of the Child Protection Project. The big concern I had when I heard about this district court decision saying these kids were in no immediate danger and that they should go back with their parents -- and we`re not talking about these kids specifically -- but in general, could there be retribution? I mean, all these people were presumably interviewed by child welfare officials. If the child welfare agency loses and these kids go back to the ranch -- and again, not talking about these kids who`ve been reunited with their families specifically, but the 400 kids -- if they go back to the ranch, could there be retribution against some of the older kids for talking and spilling their guts, or for the moms?
FLORA JESSOP, FORMER POLYGAMIST AND CHILD BRIDE: Oh, absolutely. There`s going to be plenty of retribution, especially if it is reported that any of these children have talked. The FLDS is very renowned with ex- members for punishing family members that are still on the inside. Many of the people that are speaking out right now are -- their family members are being threatened and punished for them speaking out. I`ve had a missing persons out on my mother for four years, and they`ve told me for the eight years that I`ve been fighting for these children that she is punished every day for what I do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go back to Jenny Hoff, reporter for CNN affiliate KXAN, for one moment. You were making some good points there, but what are authorities doing to insure that if they lose and these children go back to the ranch, these kids are not subject to retribution, nor are the moms?
HOFF: Well, CPS can investigate each one of these cases individually just because if they lose and these kids do end up going back to the ranch with their parents, CPS can launch another investigation into individual families. And they can look at other means. They can put -- try to put police on the compound. They can try to get social workers to make visits to these homes. They can take other means. And that`s kind of the point the court was trying to make. CPS didn`t look at every alternative before they took all of the children away from their homes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, one of the reasons is that nobody was talking, that people were deceptive, allegedly. According to child welfare officials, they were actually not giving answers or giving wrong answers to the point where, at this point, there are still more than 100 kids we do not know who their parents are.
Pat Brown, criminal profiler, what do you make of all of this?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, personally, I disagree with Susan. I think CPS is extremely overzealous. They don`t have the right to take an entire village just because there are reported problems with some families. And the fact that some of these families may be, quote, "grooming" their sons to grow up to be sexual predators, the daughters to go -- you know, to be abused by men -- let`s face it, in a regular American society, we got lots of families raising their sons on pornography and their daughters to provide for sexual stuff to boys at the ages 12 and 13.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Susan Moss...
BROWN: Do we go into an entire village and take all the kids away who are watching this crap at home? We don`t do it because it`s not -- you can`t say what`s going to happen in the future.
BROWN: You have to focus on now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get Susan Moss`s input on this because you guys are diametrically opposed.
MOSS: CPS absolutely does similar type of investigations for people on the outside of the FLDS ranch. They absolutely do file these same procedures. So I absolutely disagree with you when you say they don`t use these same standards when they go after parents who do similar type abuses to their children. That`s just not true.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go to some of the callers because there are so many piling up right now. Ruby, South Carolina, your question, ma`am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I have a comment. I am infuriated about these children and the way they`re treated, but I wonder why, if these people want to stay on this ranch and they don`t want anybody trespassing, why does the government and the state feed (ph) them and why do they get anything they want?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go to David Samuel Brown, who is an attorney ad litem for some of the FLDS children. It seems like we`ve got at least one caller who agrees with your side.
DAVID SAMUEL BROWN, ATTORNEY AD LITEM FOR SOME FLDS CHILDREN: Well, I think that the state did overreach and they tried new and novel type of legal theories when they went in for all of these children. They painted all of the families with a really broad paintbrush and just said, Hey, they`re all the same. That`s a new theory.
What they needed to do was follow the three laid-out requirements the law says, which is that there needs to be an imminent danger to the physical health or safety, needs urgent protection, and the people, the guardians, the parents are responsible. And they overreached. And what will happen now is that people that possibly were some sort of perpetrator are going to be able to go free. It might even embolden those people thinking, OK, now we`re going to get off.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What kind of a...
BROWN: And that`s the problem...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That strikes me as kind of upside-down logic. And let`s go to Leslie Seppinni, marriage and family therapist and clinical psychologist, because according to welfare -- child welfare officials, quote, "Children as young as age 13 were pregnant, but also men must have been engaged in the sexual abuse of those children at least nine months prior, if not at an earlier age."
How can anybody say, with that documentation, that these kids are not in immediate danger?
LESLIE SEPPINNI, LICENSED FAMILY THERAPIST: They`re absolutely in immediate danger. And in fact, this is a compound of people raising pedophiles, for child abuse. We have a compound raising people for domestic violence, as well as rapists. These children are in immediate danger. And when you have a 13-year-old who suddenly is now 20 years old with a 7-year-old son, it, in fact, proves that these children have been molested and abused, and in many cases, incest cases. And it`s absolutely absurd and egregious that the court does not see this and does not provide a warrant to go into that compound and find out what`s going on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`ve got a caller from the Lone Star State. Cathie, Texas, your question, ma`am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. My question is, is when they convicted Warren Jeffs, why wasn`t an investigation opened up in all these areas then?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, excellent question. Flora Jessop, former polygamist, former child bride, you`ve been tracking this for a long time. Why was there this gap between the conviction of Warren Jeffs and the discovery of this compound?
JESSOP: Well, you know, probably because Warren Jeffs was arrested and convicted in Utah and Arizona, and Utah and Arizona authorities have wasted so much time trying to be the polygamists` friend that they have failed to protect the children in the communities where this came from.
But because of the crackdown in Utah and Arizona, and because of people like myself and Caroline Jessop and Elissa Wall (ph) and many others that have stepped forward, the FLDS made a transition and started moving to other compounds in Texas, in South Dakota, in Colorado, Mexico, Canada, and started expanding their operation and ended up in Texas, where they felt like they were safe. And guess what? Texas isn`t going to keep them and take them. They`re not going to feed them and clothe them and pay the welfare bills, like Utah and Arizona continue to do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh. Like, you`re saying, Follow the money.
Let me go to Dr. Jennifer Shu, who`s a pediatrician and author of "Heading Home With Your Newborn From Birth to Reality." Forty-one kids with broken bones, and yet the 3rd district court is saying no signs of immediate danger. Can you make sense of that at all?
DR. JENNIFER SHU, PEDIATRICIAN: You know what? I`m not sure what`s going on there. What I do know is that the child protective service system is put in place as the safest way to protect kids. They need to err on the side of caution, so that children who might have been put in through these -- at risk for bruises and broken bones and sexual abuse can be removed from that situation until things can be investigated further.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go to Doug Burns, defense attorney. You know, the argument of the 3rd district court is, Broad brush, grouping everybody in a group. And there is, inherently among Americans, a reluctance to do that, whether it`s immigrants, whether it`s people in time of war, because it feels un-American. What`s your reaction to this whole back-and-forth legally now?
DOUG BURNS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think you have to break out the emotional part from the legal part. Emotionally, everybody`s outraged and disgusted by the purported or ostensible conduct. But legally, I agree with Pat and disagree with Susan, most respectfully. This was way too broad. They went in there and pulled out 460 kids. Now they let 12 go back. Don`t you think maybe that they culled out the fact that those 12 were different and not in danger? I mean, my God, this was way too broad. They made huge mistakes, and now everybody`s back-pedaling. But that`s the reality. They made a huge mistake.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s devastating. It is, tearing those little children`s hearts right out. Every time we see them, which we`re grateful we get to see them, but they go through that trauma all over again. They just -- they just break down. Their little hearts are broken. I have a 3- year-old and a 5-year-old and a 7, a 9, and it is -- I hope there`s no permanent damage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The court of appeals decision covers only the mothers we represent and their children. However, we believe the reasoning in the court of appeals decision would apply to all of the children. They specifically held that the department was required to prove reasonable efforts other than removal and that they didn`t do so. I believe that`s going to apply to all children and all mothers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in for Nancy Grace. A tug- of-war over more than 400 kids, minus 12, rescued from a polygamist ranch. Could the kids be enjoying this taste of life on the outside, or is everything they fear being reinforced by the way the child services bureaucracy is handling this whole thing?
And I want to take that out to marriage and family therapist Leslie Seppinni. What do you think?
SEPPINNI: I absolutely disagree that this is the cause of their ultimate trauma. Their ultimate trauma has been being raised in a community in which they`re locked in. They don`t even know who their parents are. They call themselves caretakers, not mothers and fathers. They can`t even identify who their mother and father is. They have no core self-esteem. The long-term trauma for these kids is not because of being taken away from the parents but because of the lifestyle that they`ve been living, where they`ve been told that God is their official judge and not societal norms.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Linda from Pennsylvania. What is your question, ma`am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing, Jane? I`m going to be real quick, but I got a few things to hit on. Why is public welfare not out there checking on the situation and knowing that they all live together?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, let`s get that one good question answered. Pat Brown, criminal profiler.
BROWN: Well, that`s what they should have done. They really should have narrowed this down to each one of these families because that broad brush simply says that everybody is exactly the same and every child is suffering equally.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I think...
BROWN: Take a look at babies. Take a look -- wait a minute. Take a look at babies. There`s some nursing mothers. There`s 2-year-olds and 3- year-olds have suddenly been ripped away from their parents, and they`re being -- that`s got to be terrifying for them. So I think this is absolutely ridiculous, what they did. I understand the concern about the children growing up...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Pat, you know, what`s more terrifying, being taken away or being forced to get married when you`re 14 to a guy that you hate, sometimes?
BROWN: This is the point, is when you`re 14. So they need to look at the cases where, at that point in time, the children are being abused. But you cannot go and say up until maybe age 8 or 9, all these children are being abused because that -- you could say that with much of America, with our parenting skills. So we cannot do that. We have to focus on exactly what`s going on at that time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. This debate will continue with Pat in just a moment.
Tonight`s "Case Alert." This Sunday, May 25, marks national Missing Children`s Day, candlelight vigils and awareness rallies across the country as the search goes on for hundreds of thousands of missing kids. According to the Justice Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited kids, get this, more than 750,000 children were reported missing over the last year. Let`s continue the fight for the safe return and protection of all of our children. For more info, go to Missingkids.com.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They kept me all this time just to get my little baby. (INAUDIBLE) supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what kind of day did it turn out to be?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the worst, one of the most desperate, feeling like hawks are all around me trying to snatch my baby the minute I shut my eyes or lay him down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in for Nancy Grace, as we bring you the very latest on the fight for the more than 400 kids taken from that polygamist ranch in Texas.
And I want to go to Michael Board, reporter, WOAI Newsradio, to clarify. So many numbers flying around -- 400 kids. We`ve heard that about half of them were under age 5. What about the five girls at the very center, who were allegedly abused? Tell us about them.
BOARD: Well, yes, this comes down to what`s called the "bishop`s list." You`ve heard a lot about this. This was a list of all the fathers, all their wives and "spiritual wives" and all their children that were on this ranch here. And if you go through this list -- this is hard fact evidence that was presented in court -- it shows irrefutably that there were girls on this ranch who were either impregnated and/or married, "spiritually" married, to some of the dirty old men on this ranch.
There`s one gentleman -- you look on this bishop`s list that we have obtained, 46-year-old Leroy Steed (ph). According to this list, which was evidence in court, he had eight wives. One of those spiritual wives was only 16 years old, and yes, she had a kid.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Child Protective Services in Texas will appeal yesterday`s court ruling that it had no right to remove more than 400 kids from the Yearning for Zion polygamist retreat.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: CPS filed that appeal with the Texas Supreme Court at around 12:30 today. They also filed an emergency petition to stave a court order so they can keep those children in state custody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell in for Nancy Grace.
Who is going to win the battle over more than 400 kids born into a polygamist world?
Texas child services said this is a case about adult men commanding sex from underage children and adult women knowingly condoning and allowing it.
So Flora Jessop, former polygamist and child bride and executive director of Child Protection Project, the district court said, you know, the child welfare officials overreached. They shouldn`t have taken all the children. They should give them back.
But the question is, while some people are saying why didn`t they just take the worst cases, the five abused girls or the dozen pubescent girls -- few dozen pubescent girls, what would have happened if they had taken just some of the kids and left the others behind?
FLORA JESSOP, FMR. POLYGAMIST & CHILD BRIDE, EXEC. DIRECTOR OF THE CHILD PROTECTION PROJECT: Well, the children would have remained in a very bad situation. One of the things that I want to make clear to people is while, yes, the pubescent girls are the ones being married off to these old men, the brutality is on the younger children in this cult.
They take their babies at about a year, between a year and 15 months and teach them not to cry by repeatedly slapping their faces or holding their faces under running water. This cult has only been in Texas for about four years. They moved there from Colorado City and Hilldale where there`s a whole field full of dead babies almost the same number as the dead adults in this community.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what? Those are -- and listen, I respect your experience but those are very, very shocking allegations that we have no independent corroboration of. We want to make that clear because what you`re saying heavy duty stuff. We don`t have any knowledge of that.
But I want to go Leslie Seppinni who is a marriage and family therapist and clinical psychologist. All this talk of abuse from people who have escaped, right? And they decide this is horrible and yet when you see these women walking around in their outfits and their prairie dresses and their hair outfits, and you see the kids, they are not bolting, they are not saying, wow, this is my get-out-of-jail-free card.
This is my chance to have a normal life. They are -- they`re in lock step. They`re like Stepford wives. Why?
LESLIE SEPPINNI, LICENSED MARRIAGE FAMILY THERAPIST AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Why? Because they`ve been brainwashed to believe that this is God ordained and that their prophets are the only ones to determine what their life is. These are -- also some of these women are second generation women. They are not first generation women.
We should be concerned, absolutely concerned, not only for this generation but for the next generation because we are going to see offshoots of sects of other people who are going to create these types of cults that are the children of these families, initial families, because they believe a hatred and an anger towards society that they have the right to their beliefs.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go to the phones again. Stacked up, Jessica from Pennsylvania, your question, ma`am?
JESSICA, PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENT: Hi, Jane.
JESSICA: Me and my aunt sit here enraged yelling at the TV. They say they`re sending them back to their parents. Who are their parents? They say there wasn`t enough evidence for them to take the children. They report 41 broken bones, underage girls pregnant and there is a picture of Warren Jeffs on their wall.
The DNA don`t match to the children. The DNA doesn`t match to the children. The mothers, where are the fathers? What more evidence do they need?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re expressing some of the question that people all across America have.
Let`s bring in two experts tonight with diametrically opposed views, Susan Moss, family law attorney and child advocate, and Pat Brown, criminal profiler. Let`s take it away.
Start with you, Susan. You`ve just heard all these stories and yet a lot of people are still saying that child welfare officials overreached.
SUSAN MOSS, CHILD ADVOCATE, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: People are condemning CPS but what choice did they have? We have 100 of these children -- we still don`t know who their parents are because their parents haven`t come forward and the DNA tests aren`t showing who their biological lineage is.
If we don`t know who their parents are, there is no choice but to keep -- to treat this entire ranch as one entity and with some subgroups of this one entity. It is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Pat brown -- I`ve heard you. Pat Brown, jump in there. Feel free to jump back and forth.
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER, AUTHOR OF "KILLING FOR SPORT": I think the biggest problem here is we have to focus on what is the law and what is just something we don`t like. Now, the -- if the law states we cannot have polygamist marriages, then we should arrest those with the polygamist marriages.
If the law states we cannot abuse a child, we have to arrest those who abuse children. If the law says we cannot get underage girls pregnant, we have to arrest the men who do this. That is the law. But just because we don`t like somebody`s culture or their beliefs, we could -- I mean if we did that, we`d be arresting us -- awful lot of people in other cultures and other religions that we don`t like the way they raise their children and we think they`re being forced into those religions.
That`s true across the country.
MOSS: Yes, let`s look at the law. Let`s look at what the standard is that Judge Walter very, very cautiously and very correctly came to the decision she did.
Are the children in danger? Yes, they are. Do the children need.
BROWN: Which children? Which children?
MOSS: All of the children.
BROWN: Not every single one is in danger.
MOSS: This is one entity. Are the children need to be taken away to be protected? They cannot be protected where they`re being groomed to be pedophiles or victims. And lastly, was there another option? There was not. If we`re going to save these children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know you`re hearing all these really outrageous accusations from Flora Jessop. You know, why didn`t -- if they are true, why didn`t the child welfare officials bring some of this to the table and perhaps we can go to the attorney ad litum for some of the FLDS children, David Samuel Brown.
I men, you hear all these wild accusations and yet the accusations by child welfare officials in court were rather generic. They weren`t as sensational.
DAVID SAMUEL BROWN, ATTORNEY AD LITEM FOR FLDS CHILDREN: No. The accusations in court were not that sensational. They talked about a belief system. And the belief system means it`s a thinking crime. And to have a crime, you need to have an act. Just thinking about something isn`t enough.
And let me also get back to these women or young girls that are having children. Let`s say an 18-year-old girl, for instance. Let`s not treat her like a perpetrator. If she is having a child, why rip that child, that newborn baby from her breast? I think it`s abhorrent. If there is a problem, she is a victim, not a perpetrator. And they shouldn`t be punishing her by taking that child away. I think that`s awful.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I want to bring in Jenny Hoff, reporter for CNN affiliate KXAN, into this conversation. You`ve been out there day in and day out. We have a debate raging here. What is the mood there among the people in Texas about this? Are they split?
JENNY HOFF, REPORTER, KXAN: Well, there are a lot of people that, obviously, when they hear some of those more sensational comments, of course, they`re going to be angry. Of course they feel like these children should be taken away from their parents but we have to remember even if CPS loses this, there is still a criminal investigation going on.
The attorney general`s office of Texas is continuing doing their criminal investigation with all of the evidence that was seized from their raid so if even CPS has to give those children back, it doesn`t mean that it ends here. In fact, the attorney general`s office issued a statement today saying they will pursue whoever they find was committing a crime. It doesn`t matter if these people go to Utah, it doesn`t matter if they go to Arizona.
And when they get those DNA results back -- we have not gotten them back yet. When they get those DNA results back, we will be able to see which children belonged to which parent.
So obviously, there is a lot of anger with people in the public when they just hear sensational comments. But for those who`ve been following this, who`ve been talking to the families and talking to the mothers, and those who have gone out onto the ranch, they still wonder: are we opening a huge Pandora`s Box, you know, for the government to be able to go in to any community where they suspect something going on and take all those children away?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I.
HOFF: A lot of Texans are very uncomfortable with that idea.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think, you know, Americans are generally uncomfortable with that idea but they are also uncomfortable with the idea of little babies being slapped and 14-year-old girls being forced to marry old men and have sex with them.
Jan from Arkansas, your question?
JAN, ARKANSAS RESIDENT: Hi. Yes, I was wondering since the appellate judge said that CPS went in there and did it all wrong, didn`t have any evidence, didn`t have any proof, and then I was wondering when all these other individual trials come, are they going to be able, legally, to use the.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Use what?
JAN: . the evidence that they got after the fathers?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Michael Board, quick answer to that one.
MICHAEL BOARD, REPORTER, WOAI NEWSRADIO: Well, the very fact that they used what may have turned out to be a hoax phone call to get on to the ranch is not even a part of that. There`s a low burden of proof on cases like this. It`s just a preponderance of the evidence. It doesn`t matter if there was a hoax phone call or not.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Excellent debate on everybody`s part.
When we come back, a quiet, Virginia community in shock after a 16-month- old baby boy is ferociously attacked by a pit bull.
And tonight, we salute our troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thank you for this opportunity to salute our troops, our son Angelo Manfredo(ph). He`s in Iraq. We are proud of what he`s doing. May God bless all of them and return them home soon. Thank you for your time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, Papi. Take care of yourself. We love you here. Waiting for you. Kisses. (Speaking in foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A Virginia boy needed reconstructive surgery after a sickening attack by a neighbor`s pit bull.
Jacob Brady, who`s only 16 months old, needed 90 stitches to repair his face after mauling which took place near the family`s home. The boy`s mother told police her son was bleeding profusely after the pit bull brutally attacked him, ripping open the child`s face.
Jacob had apparently played routinely with the dogs but never saw this coming. Animal control officers have taken custody of the pit bull and will soon decide whether the dog should live or die.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell in for Nancy Grace.
A 16-month-old boy very lucky to be alive tonight after a horrifying pit bull attack. Let`s go straight out to investigative reporter Rory O`Neill for the very latest.
Rory, what is the latest?
RORY O`NEILL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, little Jacob is doing much better now. He was attacked last Wednesday by this pit bull. The dog really -- the two of them are the same age. He`s seen the dog a lot, played with him frequently.
The dog was chained up in the front yard of his neighbor`s home. But he walked over, interacted with the dog. Something happened. The dog pounced and attacked and the mother was just a few feet away.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now I have to say, in the interest of full disclosure, I personally am an animal rights activist. I do a lot of campaigning for spay/neuter and don`t keep your dog on a chain. And the reason being that you tether an animal, it is going to become pent up. It is going to become irritated.
It is going to become aggressive, especially when you have a dog that is 15 months old as this dog was, and especially when you have a dog as powerful as a 15-month-old dog. That`s basically a glorified puppy with a lot of energy.
Let`s bring in -- or unleash is appropriate for this -- the lawyers. Susan Moss, Doug Burns. What do you think should happen in this case? Charges, criminal charges filed?
Let`s take it with Doug.
DOUG BURNS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I don`t think that will be the case. I mean, the fact pattern here, Jane, is a little unusual because the child was playing with the dog consistently and nobody saw this coming. So while it`s tragic and terrible, even the mother of the victim really showed a lot of class in saying, I`m not faulting the neighbors. So I don`t think that`s going to happen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Susan Moss, I have a feeling you disagree.
MOSS: How do you let a young child`s play with a pit bull? A pit bull?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? We have to say that we tried to contact the parties involved and been unable to reach them but the fact is that the child may have wandered away. These people are neighbors. They live in the same area and, again, I think the chain gives people a false sense of security.
They think, Susan, oh, the dog`s on a chain, can`t hurt me. Wrong.
MOSS: You`ve got a pit bull. You can`t let this child out of your sight. What did she -- go to the Britney Spears` school of parenting?
BURNS: The child.
MOSS: You know, it`s just absolutely insane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know I think we have.
BURNS: Jane, the child played with the dog over and over and over again, many, many, many, many times.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, we have to try to figure out what the circumstances of that original play was. If they were playing with the dog after it had run five miles or with a bicyclist and was not pent up - again if you keep an animal on a chain, you`re going to have problems, especially a pit bull.
Complicating this issue is the fact that the family of the boy who was injured is good friends with the family which owns the dog.
Pat Brown, criminal profiler, what do you say? Do you think that there would be a lawsuit developing here or are they just going say it`s a terrible, terrible, terrible scenario?
BROWN: I don`t think it`s a terrible scenario. I think that that -- anybody who owns a dog and -- and children can wander into the yard or run into the yard and come by the yard in way, shape or form puts up a fence to protect that child from that ever happening, because we all know little children, they`ll go often go, hi, doggie, and bop it on the nose. And the dog may react badly to that.
Anybody who owns a dog should know that. They have to put up protective fencing unless they`re going to be watching that dog every minute that, you know, the child is around it. You don`t let children wander (INAUDIBLE) you have that. That`s ridiculous.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Dr. Jennifer Shu, pediatrician, what`s amazing is despite all this, this child needed reconstructive surgery, but is expected to recuperate completely and will not have lasting damage to his face. How is that? That`s a medical miracle.
DR. JENNIFER SHU, PEDIATRICIAN, CO-AUTHOR OF "HEADING HOME WITH YOUR NEWBORN": Well, thank goodness this boy didn`t have any problems that are so severe. He could have lost an eye. He could have had permanent damage to his muscles. I mean reconstructive surgery really recreates the shape of the face and any other things like the tip of the nose and the mouth.
But actually, Jane, this is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. That`s one every eight minutes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we have to wrap it up there. But I say spay and neuter your dogs because unaltered dogs are more likely to attack, and do not keep your dog on a chain, period, end of story.
Tonight, "CNN HEROES."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEE MARIE RADZYMINSKI, YOUNG WONDER: Listening to music, first of all, gets stress out and you relax to it. It`s a big part of my life and it`s a big part of theirs.
I`ve always had a special place in my heart for the military. They sacrifice so much for us. Why can`t I do a little bit to give back to them?
My name is Kaylee Marie Radzyminski. I`ve been sending CDs and DVDs overseas to our troops to bring a little bit of home and a little bit of entertainment.
I got to talking with the military personnel and I asked them what was the number one thing you miss. First thing was, of course, their families, but second to that was entertainment. Well, CDs, DVDs, those are entertainment.
So I started asking my friends and I got online together and then we did a drive at school. And eventually, it spread to the community and now it`s a nationwide project.
They all get a sticker with "The Tunes for Troops" e-mail address. Then all you have to do is finish filling out custom forms and pay for shipping. Sometimes it does get very stressful. I missed my junior prom, but that is nothing compared to what these 18, 19 and 20-year-olds give up.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: Kind of takes out of this place for a little while.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: They give me a chance to feel like I was back home a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: The project is awesome.
RADZYMINSKI: To have such a large outcome of happy soldiers is so worth it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now a look back at the stories making the rest of the headlines this week.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Finally, the Lone Star state cranks up legal battle in court. There are still around 100 children that have not been matched up to a biological mom and dad.
How hard can it be?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This compound fears our world. Why don`t they fear receiving welfare checks and why don`t they fear the attorneys representing their kids?
GRACE: You`re right. It`s quite the conundrum.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police issued an AMBER Alert for a 3-year-old boy in North Carolina.
GRACE: Police now say that the boy was never even at the flea market. Raji is safe tonight.
Tonight, House of Yahweh leader Yisrayl Hawkins with us live.
YISRAYL HAWKINS, LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF YAHWEH, FACING UP TO 100 YEARS FOR BIGAMY: Yahweh is allowing sin to take place.
GRACE: What happened to the nuclear baby?
HAWKINS: This is going to take place.
GRACE: How long is the gestation period on this nuclear baby?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I hear Drew Peterson`s been arrested. Hey, it`s about time.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is not about the disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy. He turned himself in on a felony gun charge today.
GRACE: Bombshell. Over 400 children rescued off an isolated Texas compound now headed straight back behind compound walls.
JESSOP: These children will be taken to their compounds in Mexico and Canada and they`ll disappear into the ether. If CPS has no children, CPS has no case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, let`s stop to remember Army Sergeant Michael Sturdivant, 20, from Conway, Arkansas, killed, Iraq. An Eagle Scout, he left the college studies to enlist. He was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service medal, and Army Service Ribbon. He leaves behind proud parents Victor and Sheryl.
Michael Sturdivant, an American hero.
Thank you to all our guests for their insights and thanks to you at home for tracking these very important cases with us. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell in for Nancy Grace.
See you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, have a wonderful and a safe evening.