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Op-Ed: The Forgotten Children of the FLDS Polygamist Group, The Lost Boys

By Susan Duclos     Apr 16, 2008 in Lifestyle
While people are claiming such outrage over 416 children removed from the FLDS compound and the mothers are going to the press to shed tears and act like victims, everyone seems to forget the other children of the FLDS... The Lost Boys.
While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of young boys, some only 13 years of age, rough estimates have the number at 400 to as many as 1,400 young boys have been put on to the streets after having been thrown out of the FLDS for a variety of reasons, some as little as kissing a girl, or wearing a short sleeved shirt.
The Lost Boys.
The mothers say the boys are "dead" to them, because the "prophet" has decided they are no longer a member of the family.
Most of the Lost Boys are between the ages of 13 and 21 when banished from or pressured to leave compounds such as the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch.
They were raised to fear the outside world, fear authorities and have a very limited education, but because men in the FLDS sect must have at least three wives, the women to men ratio wouldn't allow for that if the boy children were all allowed to stay and with some of the FLDS men having up to 10 wives, that makes it even more necessary to send these children packing, out into a world they have been taught to fear, to sleep on the street.
One of these boys, named Franky, says, "How a father or a mother can suddenly take a child and kick them out and never speak with them again, that's just unbelievable."
Another of those boys is Gideon Barlow, who says he arrived in this strange world as an orphan from another world, at the age of 16.
At 17, he begged to visit his mother on Mother's Day, to just give her a gift, yet the mother told him that he was "dead" to her.
Gideon is one of the ''Lost Boys," a group of more than 400 teenagers -- some as young as 13 -- who authorities in Utah and Arizona say have fled or been driven out of the polygamous enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City over the last four years.
His stated offenses: wearing short-sleeved shirts, listening to compact discs, and having a girlfriend. Other boys say they were booted out for going to movies, watching television, and staying out past curfew.
Another "Lost Boy" was John Jessop who was kicked out of the family at the age of 13 years old because he ran away for three day and another is Sam Icke who was kicked out of his home for kissing a girl.
At the time the plight of the children came to light, in 2005, it was not the mothers that these boys blamed for refusing to acknowledge their existence, it was Warren Jeff, who was the "prophet" of the FLDS and it was him they wanted punished.
These boys still loved their mothers, even after having their mothers shun them and refuse to consider them alive, throwing them away as if they were garbage, out into the world that they had first taught these children to fear.
More of these former FLDS children have come forward recently, since the Child Protective Services took 416 children from the FLDS compound and they too find very little pity for the mothers that are crying for the cameras.
One of which is Richard Holm and he says, "They (FLDS leaders) are guilty of what they're accusing the authorities of doing."
"I think it's an act of desperation to a degree. They don't know what else to do," Holm said. "They howl and cry that they're being ripped away from this wonderful family condition they're in when they've got blood on their hands. They did it to me and several hundred other men."
Warren Jeff, the leader of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).
Warren Jeff was put onto the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on Utah state charges related to his alleged arrangement of extralegal marriages between his adult male followers and underage girls. He was arrested in August of 2007 and additionally charged with sexual conduct with minors and incest—in two separate cases.
He was convicted of of two counts of rape as an accomplice for forcing young girls to marry older men, in his FLDS compounds.
Jeffs is awaiting trial on similar charges in Arizona.
One of those girls was 14 and at first she was known as Jane doe but later allowed her name to be published. That brave girl's name is Elissa Wall and she was the only girl that testified because others were scared to come forward.
According to prosecutors, Jeffs married them, told them to multiply and replenish the Earth. And then they consummated their marriage. What jurors don't know is that Jeffs is on the FBI's 10- most-wanted list because he's accused of doing this with many other girls under the age of 18. But Elissa Wall is the only one who has come forward. And that's why she's the only witness in this particular case.
15 of his followers were in court that day, making the same claims they make now that their young children have been taken away pending abuse allegations, claiming they are persecuted because of their religion.
The children in state protective care.
News reports are coming out now that say some of the children in Texas state care cannot even name or point out who is their actual mother is and they continue to give authorities different names.
Meisner said child welfare officials still can't find birth certificates for many of the children, making parentage and age determinations impossible. She said many of the children don't know who their parents are and many have the same last name but may or may not be related.
"It's a difficult process," she said.
Many of these children associate more than one woman as their mother and cannot even provide information such as their own birth dates.
The Raid.
When child welfare investigators first went to the YFZ Ranch, they found many pregnant teenagers and underage girls who said they were forced to marry, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday, April 8, 2008.
The decision to finally raid the FLDS compound came after a phone call from a girl claiming she was being abused at the YFZ Ranch, a girl who still has not been found yet or has not stepped forward, but also after 4 years of obtaining information from a confidential informant, according to the local sheriff.
SAN ANGELO — The local sheriff today defended his decision not to intervene sooner at a West Texas polygamist compound, despite having a confidential informant who provided him with information over four years.
The confidential informant told authorities days ago that beds in the group's sacred temple at the Yearning for Zion Ranch were used by adult men to have sex with underage girls, according to court documents.
"It's just like anything. If you have a meth lab on your property and you feel it's there, you're not going to (trample) their civil rights or treat them any differently until you get probable cause or information or an outcry," said Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran.
Many try to claim now that it was one phone call that led to 416 children being taken from their homes. Those same people ignore the fact that whenever an allegation of abuse is made, investigators go into a home and do their jobs, which is to investigate.
It was that investigation that led them to find pregnant young teens, some of which already had other children. It was that investigation that led to findings which made investigators believe the children were suffering from abuse and neglect.
The documents detailed the evidence that Texas officials presented to a judge to justify taking temporary state custody of more than 400 children from the YFZ Ranch, near the tiny town of Eldorado, built by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The papers say that in responding to an initial report that a 16-year-old girl had been sexually abused at the ranch, a guarded complex with a towering limestone temple at its center, investigators found many young girls who either were pregnant or had given birth.
Why did the authorities wait so long?
Over the years there have been many brave girls that have escaped and young boys that have been thrown out of their homes at various FLDS compounds that have come out and told of the abuses that run rampant within the confines of the YFZ Ranch and other compounds in different states.
Yet authorities continued to let this abuse continue until a little over a week ago, doing nothing but receiving information from a confidential informant, even after the leader of that sect, Warren Jeff, was convicted of conspiracy to rape a 14 year old child by marrying her off. Even after being aware that Jeff was wanted by the FBI under accusations that he married off many other girls who were under the age of 18.
Was that not a bright red flag waving in the face of the state?
In the words of Carolyn Jessop, whose ex-husband Merril Jessop runs the YFZ Ranch:
Everybody totally accepts that a little girl born into a monogamous family, that she has the right to help if she's being abused. But once you touch a little girl that's been born into a polygamous family, everybody goes through the roof and it's 'religious persecution,'" she said. "That is not the case. That little girl has as much right to protection by the United States government as a little girl that's born into a monogamous family. We just need to cut through the crap."
Yes, we do need to cut through the crap and the outrage of those children being taken from their mothers.... the same group that will toss their 13 year old boys onto the street, never caring if they lived or died, the same group that allowed little Elissa Walls to married off at the age of 14 and the same group that cannot even produce birth certificates to prove that these children are even theirs.
Where was that outrage when the "Lost Boys" were tossed out like garbage? Where was that outrage when the girls that escaped the abuse they were suffering at the FLDS compound, reported the crimes? Where was all this outrage as these children were being abused?
The saddest thing of all here, is that some of these same children that these mothers want returned immediately, before the investigation is complete, the boys, will most probably become "Lost Boys" themselves by the time they hit 15.
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