Deal reached to return Texas kids to parents

Associated Press - May 30, 2008 6:45 PM ET

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - Texas officials today say more than 400 children removed from a polygamist sect's ranch will be returned to their parents beginning Monday in response to a state Supreme Court ruling.

The children won't be able to leave Texas but they will be allowed to move back to Yearning For Zion Ranch, where child-welfare officials have alleged that underage girls were pushed into spiritual marriages with older men. The parents say there was no abuse, and two courts ruled that the state overstepped its authority in removing all children from the ranch, from infants to teenagers.

Texas Child Protective Services took custody of the children from the west Texas ranch after a raid nearly two months ago. A court order that a judge restore custody to parents applies to only 124 of the children, but state officials said about 300 others taken under identical circumstances also will be returned.

A draft agreement released by CPS attorney Gary Banks says the parents can get their children back after showing identification and pledging to take parenting classes and remain in Texas.

The agreement was reached with 38 mothers of 124 children who filed the complaint that prompted the Texas Supreme Court's ruling Thursday.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.