The US judge deciding the fate of 416 children removed from a breakaway Mormon sect has struggled to control a first chaotic day of custody hearings.
Judge Barbara Walther had to suspend proceedings for an hour to allow hundreds of lawyers for the children and their parents to view evidence. Lawyers argued whether the Texas case violated religious freedom rights.
Police raided the ranch last week after receiving reports that a 16-year-old girl had been sexually abused. “The court is not in the position and certainly does not intend to rule about someone’s religious practices and their freedom of religion,” said Judge Walther.
She was forced to suspend proceedings after just 40 minutes amid the objections, in what is reportedly the largest child-welfare case in US history.
“What I’m trying to get to is whether or not these children should be returned to their parents or whether there’s enough information that they need to be retained in the custody of the (child welfare) department,” she said.
It is sad to separate kids from their mothers but the life and the future these kids had was even sadder!