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Friday, May 23, 2008

FLDS custody case resumes in San Angelo, Texas

In San Antonio, child welfare officials agree to reunite parents with their children under state supervision
By Brooke Adams

The Salt Lake Tribune

Photographs submitted into evidence in a Texas court hearing Friday showing FLDS leader Warren Jeffs with a young girl. The photos are dated July 27, 2006. The Salt Lake Tribune blurred the girl's face. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)

Posted: 4:51 PM- SAN ANGELO, Texas - Polygamous sect member Louisa Bradshaw today spent two hours on the witness stand in a custody case involving her newborn baby, giving halting answers when she was questioned by a state attorney.

The state is seeking to gain custody of Bradshaw's infant, who was born a week ago. Her toddlers, ages 2 and 3, are now under state supervision.

Earlier today, state child welfare authorities in San Antonio agreed to reunite 12 children with their parents until the Texas Supreme Court rules on an overarching appeal involving the state's seizure of more than 450 children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' ranch in Eldorado last month, The Associated Press reported.

Texas Child Protective Services agreed to allow the parents to live with their children in the San Antonio area under state supervision. It was unclear how many families were involved.

In the San Angelo case, state attorney Ellen Griffith asked Bradshaw how long she had been at the ranch, who lives in the building where she lives, and whether she had seen any inappropriate relationship there.

Bradshaw often simply responded, "I don't know."

At one point, Griffith showed Bradshaw photographs of imprisoned FLDS President Warren S. Jeffs with young females. The attorney said the state believes one of them was 13, adding that one photo showed Jeffs kissing her "as a husband would a wife."

Asked if the kiss was inappropriate, Bradshaw said it was.

Griffith would not divulge the origin of the photos, and said bishop's records seized at the ranch during a raid that began April 3 indicated the female was 13.

In other questioning, Randal Stout - a guardian ad litem for Bradshaw's infant - asked her whether the living conditions on the YFZ Ranch were appropriate, who had provided medical care during her pregnancy and whether she had failed to act in the presence of underage marriage.

"I don't know," Bradshaw replied. She did offer that she would never allow her daughters - she has two other children, ages 2 and 3 - to marry at age 14, and that she would abide by Texas laws that set the age of marriage at 16.

The hearing resumed late this afternoon.

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