Polygamist teenager gives birth


SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) — One of the hundreds of young polygamist-sect members taken into state custody gave birth Tuesday to a healthy boy while child welfare officials, state troopers and fellow sect members stood watch outside the maternity ward.

“The boy is healthy and the mother is doing well,” Patrick Crimmins, spokesman for the state Child Protective Services, said of the noontime birth at Central Texas Medical Center.

The mother is “younger than 18,” Crimmins said, and will remain with her new son in a nearby foster-care facility until a formal custody hearing will determine the pair’s fate sometime before June 5. Crimmins declined to give any other details about the girl or where she and the baby would stay.

The girl’s mother was present for the birth, but Crimmins said he didn’t know who alerted her that her daughter was in labor.

Rod Parker, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade Mormon sect, contends the girl is 18. State officials have the girl on a list of minors taken into state custody.

Two armed state troopers and at least one person wearing the shirt of a Department of Family and Protective Services worker stood outside the maternity ward. A woman wearing the FLDS’s trademark pastel prairie dress and upswept braided hair sat calmly in the nearby waiting room. All declined to comment, as did a woman who said she was the girl’s attorney.

State officials raided the FLDS’s Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado on April 3. They took custody of 463 children on the belief that the sect’s practice of underage and polygamous spiritual marriages endangered the children.

A number of girls first listed as adults were reclassified as minors as Child Protective Services, a division of Family and Protective Services, moved the children last week from a mass shelter in San Angelo to foster-care facilities around the state, including some near San Marcos, in central Texas.

CPS spokesman Darrell Azar said he was unaware that an FLDS teen had gone into labor, but added that typically, a child born to a ward of the state becomes a ward of the state also.

Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said she was unaware of troopers’ involvement at the maternity ward, but said CPS often asks uniformed law enforcement to escort child welfare workers when needed.

On Monday, CPS announced that almost 60 percent of the underage girls living on the Eldorado ranch either have children or are pregnant.

Of the 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who are in state custody, 31 either have given birth or are expecting, Azar said.

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