The Baltimore Sun

Commentary from Texas newspapers about the polygamist roundup:

Most who remember the conflagration in Waco 15 years ago this month probably are thinking the same thing. The drama on a West Texas polygamous sect's compound sounds David Koresh-ish. And the last thing anyone needs is a repeat of the fiasco at the cult leader's Mount Carmel compound. Fair enough. The authorities investigating the ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints in Eldorado should not overstep their authority. Transparency will stave off the notion of a witch hunt. That means fully and quickly releasing information about what investigators are discovering from the hundreds of women and children who have come out of the compound.


They didn't know what crayons were for. Dressed in 19th-century gowns, girls evacuated from Eldorado's Yearning for Zion ranch were mystified by the simplest toys from modern society. More grievous, the girls had also been deprived of the mental skills they needed to escape. At least one girl at the ranch did know how to use the lifesaving tools of the telephone, and sexual abuse laws. The anonymous 16-year-old - whom police haven't found - called authorities to complain she was being molested and that others her age also were being abused and forced into marriage. Throughout its history, Texas has respected religious freedom and fiercely defended civil liberties. But children's sexual and emotional safety will always trump both.


Followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that the apocalypse is upon us. That's debatable, but this isn't: FLDS leaders are facing a Texas-style Judgment Day - someday. As officials note, the size and scope of the case involving the West Texas polygamist sect suspected of sexually abusing its underage women is unprecedented and could be in court for years. One part of the unfolding story is particularly heartbreaking: Life has been turned upside-down for 416 innocent children caught helplessly between authorities' justified actions and loss of home to an outside world that they've been taught to fear. As Attorney General Greg Abbott told the Star-Telegram, "The truth of the matter is that however swift the justice may be, the scars for these kids will last a lifetime."


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