YFZ Ranch

The YFZ Ranch, also known as the Yearning for Zion Ranch, is a 1,700-acre (7 km2) community which housed as many as 700 people just outside of Eldorado in Schleicher County, Texas, United States. It is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). It is about 45 miles (72 km) southwest of San Angelo and 4 miles (6 km) northeast of Eldorado. The Ranch was settled by members of the FLDS Church who left Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona under increasing scrutiny from the media, anti-polygamy activists and law enforcement officials.

In 2008, state authorities entered the community after Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) and other authorities received several calls from abused juveniles. However, one or more of these calls were made by a Colorado Springs, Colorado resident, Rozita Swinton, masquerading as a YFZ ranch resident. In the call or calls, Swinton falsely identified herself as 'Sarah' and gave her age as 16. She was later arrested in Colorado and the fictional 'Sarah' has not been shown to exist.

Officers removed nearly every child to state custody after alleging they were actual or potential victims of abuse given the prior convictions of the church's president and Prophet, Warren Jeffs. The state determined that the minors had to be protected from alleged force or socialization into underage marriages and sexual abuse. Since CPS considered the children to be residents of a single household in spite of the multiple residences, it was routine to remove all of the children. Residents and critics questioned if removing every child and infant and seeking to place them all in foster care violated the civil rights of the families just because of their religious beliefs about marriage. Those who believed that the families had been separated and housed in substandard shelters criticized the raid as unnecessarily putting the children at risk, and residents asked that the children be returned.

In May, 38 parents petitioned the Third Court of Appeals in Austin for a writ of mandamus to overturn the removal of 126 of the children. The court ruled that the state had not presented sufficient evidence of immediate danger to remove the children. CPS then requested that the Texas Supreme Court overturn the Appeals Court ruling. The Texas Supreme Court declined to do so, advising the trial court to order the return of the children, but to issue orders to prevent abuse of them. On June 2, the media published photos and video of parents and children returning to the ranch, and Willie Jessop announced the FLDS church would not sanction underage marriage. The total cost of the raid and the ensuing litigation was reported to be upwards of $14 million.

Read more about YFZ RanchBackground, April 2008 Raid, Post-raid Events, Court Rulings, Commentary, Resolution

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Fundamentalist Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints - History - April 2008 Raid
3 through April 10, Texas CPS removed 439 children under age 18 from the church's YFZ Ranch, while law enforcement, including Texas Rangers, executed their search and arrest warrants on the premises ... The April 2008 events at the YFZ Ranch generated intense press coverage in the U.S ... was not justified in removing every child from the ranch ...
YFZ Ranch - Resolution
... A year after the raid, two thirds of the families were back at the ranch and sect leaders had promised to end underaged marriages ... Twelve men, not all apparently from the ranch, had been indicted on a variety of sex charges, including assault and bigamy ...
Rozita Swinton - Court Rulings
... search warrants executed in April 2008 on the YFZ Ranch in Schleicher County, Texas ... issued a ruling denying a defense motion to suppress the evidence seized from the YFZ Ranch, stating On January 22, 2010, Michael George Emack pled no contest to sexual assault charges ... He married a 16-year-old girl at YFZ Ranch on August 5, 2004 ...