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(AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
More startling news from Texas about physical and possible sexual abuse of the children removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound.
Investigators revealed they have proof of dozens of broken bones, and there are new allegations of sexual abuse of the young boys in the compound. Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators also told lawmakers today about the difficulties they had identifying the children because of the lies they were told.
We have reported about the teenage girls and sexual abuse, but today we have learned what medical examinations have revealed about an apparent history of other kinds of physical abuse.
Before a panel of legislators, the Texas commissioner outlined an investigation of sexual abuse of FLDS boys and evidence of physical abuse of children removed from the compound. He spoke of dozens of broken bones.
"Several of these fractures have been found in very young children, and several have multiple fractures. We have identified 41 children with past diagnosis of broken or fractured bones," said Carey Cockerell, commissioner for Texas Family and Protective Services.
Rod Parker, who represents the FLDS community in Texas, calls the release of this information "headline grabbing" without substantial evidence. "Reports from hospitals or other care providers of suspected child abuse, there are no reports like that out there; and the absence of those reports speaks volumes about how meaningful this claim really is," he said.
Parker said today's release of information is typical of Texas CPS. "Throwing out information, partial information, half-truths and grabbing a headline -- a very sensational headline -- knowing that they can't back it up factually," he said.
Parker says medical personnel would have to report child abuse if suspected. Though some children were seen by an FLDS doctor on the ranch, he says many were treated in San Angelo by non-FLDS orthopedic surgeons. "There's no suggestion that the injuries aren't just the result of normal accidents," he said.
Parker said some of the families involved told investigators early on they suffer from brittle bone disease. He also said the FLDS members do have their own health clinic on the compound. Two children had broken bones when they were removed, and one little girl broke a bone while in custody.
The commissioner also testified that identifying the children has been incredibly challenging. FLDS women have switched children in family units and changed their names and ages. "Three versions of ID wristbands were used to help identify children, but all three [were tampered] with by some of the adult women and children," Cockerell said.
That was no surprise to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. He said, "They have been, from day one, they get points in heaven for lying to authorities. They are taught to lie. Hopefully, they will get to the bottom of the truth on it too. With all the lying, you just don't know."
Today is the first time we have heard about sexual abuse of FLDS boys in this case, but it is not the first time with this group. Brent Jeffs sued his uncle Warren Jeffs several years ago for sexual abuse, which he said went on at the compound at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon with boys as young as 5 or 6. His brother, Brandon, gave a deposition of abuse, and their brother Clayne, they say, later committed suicide because of the abuse.
Brent and his father, Ward, point to increased abuse in the FLDS community when Warren Jeffs took over as leader. "Him saying you do exactly what I say or you're gonna burn in hell. So, he put the fear of burning in hell in me if I do not do what he says," Brent explained.
Ward said, "I blame Warren for laying the foundation and ultimately for the cause of my son's death."
Authorities in Texas are not saying how many cases of sexual abuse among FLDS boys they have.Last night, Jay Leno talked with Dr. Phil about the FLDS story. "It's a horrible mess, and it's psychologically terrible for these children," Dr. Phil said.
Jay Leno said, "I mean, you pass a law, and if you're 50 and you have sex with a 13-year-old, I don't care if you're in Guam, you should be in prison." Dr. Phil agreed with him.
There's also a dispute today on how many teenage women the state has in custody. CPS says 53 are minors whose age is in dispute, but there's no reliable proof any will be declared an adult.
Parker says many women are actually saying they're younger because they believe they'll get to stay with their children.
Meanwhile, a group that supports a plural marriage lifestyle seems to be of two minds about the news out of Texas. Principle Voices' co-founder Anne Wilde isn't sure what to believe. She said, "I've been very skeptical of the news because the credibility has been very questionable."
But Wilde tells KSL's Doug Wright that Texas Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) members haven't done themselves any favors. She said, "It's just kind of set up some red flags to begin with because of their refusal to deal with anybody from the outside." That includes a coalition of other polygamous groups.