"Perhaps the stories Flora Jessop [above; see also her site, the Child Protection Project] tells folks like Anderson Cooper [see here] every day of forced marriage and child rape [within the Eldorado, Texas, polygamist compound of the Fundamental Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] are true. And if they are, then by all means the state has the right, and the obligation, to do something about it. But at this point, we have a case built on suspicion, rumor and innuendo, fueled by hysteria and religious bigotry, that looks shakier by the day."---Jesse Hyde at Unfair Park, The Dallas Observer Blog
"[H]ow does a mentally disturbed Colorado woman [Rozita Swinton, above] become aware of a secretive polygamist sect hundreds of miles away in Texas -- and more importantly, how does she get the phone number of Flora Jessop?"---Jesse Hyde at Unfair Park, The Dallas Observer Blog The Houston Chronicle (4-18-08) reports that that Rozita Swinton has been arrested in Colorado Springs, Colo., and charged with making a false report to authorities in connection with the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) child-abuse case in Texas. Swinton, who works for a Denver insurance company, has a history of making false reports to the police. The Denver Post (4-20-08) explains:
Colorado Springs police, accompanied by Texas Rangers, arrested Swinton in a local case, and Texas officials searched the home.
The Texas Rangers found items of interest during the search and the investigation is continuing.
In June 2005, Castle Rock police arrested Swinton after she posed as the teen mother of a newborn and told an adoption agency and police she was considering suicide and leaving the baby at a fire station, Castle Rock police Sgt. Scott Claton said.
Authorities charged her with filing a false police report. She is currently serving a one-year deferred sentence in that case.
In February, dozens of Colorado Springs police searched for a girl claiming to be locked in a basement. Again, it turned out to be Swinton.
[Swinton] was charged with falsely reporting abuse to authorities in connection with a separate incident in Colorado Springs two months ago.
Texas authorities say Swinton is a person of interest in their search for the girl whose call prompted them to raid the Yearning for Zion Ranch.
Department of Public Safety officials declined to discuss the case as part of an ongoing investigation, but issued a statement Friday saying the Rangers accompanied Colorado Springs police to search Swinton's home for items related to previous false reports to authorities.
Officers found several items indicating a possible connection between Swinton and calls regarding FLDS compounds in Colorado City, Arizona, and the one near Eldorado.
The Rangers are "actively pursuing Rozita Swinton as a person of interest regarding telephone calls placed to a crisis center hotline in San Angelo," the DPS said.
A Colorado judge approved the Rangers' request to seal records in the case.
Child Protection Project founder Linda Walker and the Phoenix-based group's executive director, Flora Jessop, said Friday they were stunned when they learned the woman's identity.
"In her little baby voice, she said, 'If you rescue me, and I get out of here, do you think the black people will hurt me?' " Walker said. "She had done her homework. She knew it was a racist cult. We know that these kids are very frightened of black people.
"The Texas Rangers told us she was obsessed with the FLDS. They confiscated tons of material on the FLDS (in the search of Swinton's home). She even gave real addresses and real names of FLDS people."
Walker and Jessop hesitated to say that Swinton was the person who called the Texas hot line to describe sexual and physical abuse by a 50-year-old husband at the ranch outside Eldorado, but they endorsed the resulting actions of Texas authorities. [Full text].
Texas Rangers participated in the arrest of a Colorado woman who allegedly pretended to be a girl locked in a basement. The Rangers were in the state as part of their investigation into the Texas polygamy custody battle, local police told ABC News.
It was unclear if the arrest was related to the phone call from a woman who claimed to be a 16-year-old girl, a phone call that sparked what has become one of the largest child custody cases in U.S. history.
Officials in Texas raided a polygamist compound and took 416 children into custody after an abuse hotline received a series of phone calls from the purported teen who said she was being held at the compound. The girl, who called herself Sarah, said she was being physically and sexually abused by her adult husband, court documents say.
Texas child protection lawyers have said they believe the girl does exist, even though they have not found her.
But ABC News has learned that Texas Rangers flew to Colorado Springs, Colo., and participated in the arrest of a 33-year-old woman who was charged with filing a false report.
The FBI also told ABC News it is assisting local police in the investigation. Colorado Springs police said in a statement that "The Texas Rangers were in Colorado Springs Wednesday as part of their investigation involving the compound in Texas."
Colorado Springs police said they arrested Rozita Swinton last night on local charges of pretending to be a girl locked in a basement, claiming abuse and calling authorities for help.
Local police said Swinton had been under investigation for some time on that accusation, but police made an immediate arrest after the Texas Rangers became involved...
Swinton became a person of interest to Texas authorities when former Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints member Flora Jessop, who now operates a rescue mission for teenage girls trying to escape the sect, told authorities she had been getting calls from a girl claiming to be Sarah -- the same girl who made the call for help to a San Angelo, Texas, shelter that led to the raid on the El Dorado compound.
Jessop told ABC News that she -- at the direction of Texas Rangers -- began recording those calls in the past two weeks and that the Rangers were able to trace them to Colorado Springs, where the arrest was made.
[H]ow does a mentally disturbed Colorado woman become aware of a secretive polygamist sect hundreds of miles away in Texas -- and more importantly, how does she get the phone number of Flora Jessop?
Jessop is a former polygamist Annie Oakley-type who wears a knife on her boot and has made it her life’s work to eradicate the practice of polygamy from America. A noble cause to be sure.
But the fact that she is involved in this mess is troubling.
Earlier this week, a private investigator in Salt Lake City who is involved in the anti-polygamist movement there told me he thought it was Jessop who made the phone call that sparked the raid in the first place. He also told me he wouldn’t be surprised if Jessop is the informant the sheriff in Eldorado says he’s been communicating with from inside the compound for the last four years.
Maybe, and maybe not. But we do know that Jessop has been bugging law enforcement to do something about the compound since residents in Eldorado first figured out it wasn’t a hunting lodge. In fact, it was Jessop who first alerted the town’s newspaper editor that the polygamists had come to town, and together, the two have kept the drumbeat going to get rid of the place. Nothing wrong with that. But when we’re talking about removing children from their families, we’re talking about evidence, not what someone thinks about a religion or what someone thinks might be going on within the ranch’s log cabins or hilltop temple. And it can not be ignored (although it is not understood by the mainstream media because they don’t know what they’re dealing with here) that all the information to date that has ever been made public about what goes on within FLDS communities in Arizona, Utah and Texas (including Jon Krakauer’s sloppily researched Under the Banner of Heaven) has come from people who have left the sect or been kicked out, making their information, at the least, suspect.
Perhaps the stories Flora Jessop tells folks like Anderson Cooper every day of forced marriage and child rape are true. And if they are, then by all means the state has the right, and the obligation, to do something about it. But at this point, we have a case built on suspicion, rumor and innuendo, fueled by hysteria and religious bigotry, that looks shakier by the day...
We have an unsubstantiated phone call from a girl authorities have never located reporting abuse. It now looks like that phone call -- which appears to be the entire basis for the search warrant, the raid and the removal of 416 children from the custody of their parents -- was a fake. We have a bed in a temple. We have a piece of paper with a list of names on it. We have an informant, who for all we know, could have been Flora Jessop, or could have been made up out of thin air. And now the judge in this case, who approved the search warrant in the first place, is talking about sending these kids to foster homes throughout the state.
Read the full article. Author Jesse Hyde raisies some good questions. Hopefully, investigators will be able to find out the truth.
April 18, 2008
Rangers release new details in FLDS case
The Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety is actively pursuing Rozita Swinton of Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a “person of interest” regarding telephone calls placed to a crisis center hotline in San Angelo, Texas, in late March 2008.
Two Texas Rangers traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado, on April 16 and met with officers from the Colorado Springs Police Department to discuss a possible connection between Swinton and telephone calls made regarding activities at the polygamist Yearning For Zion (YFZ) Ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Eldorado, Texas.
Texas Rangers accompanied the Colorado Springs officers while they executed an evidentiary search warrant at Swinton’s residence for items related to previous false reports to authorities in Colorado. During the search, officers found several items that indicated a possible connection between Swinton and calls regarding the FLDS compounds in Colorado City, Arizona, and Eldorado, Texas.
These items of interest to Texas authorities were seized by the Colorado Springs Police Department and released to the Texas Rangers. These items will be evaluated and forwarded to various crime laboratories in Texas for analysis. The Texas Rangers, with the approval of local officials in Colorado, requested that the affidavit for the search warrant for Swinton’s residence be sealed by an El Paso County, Colorado judge. A judge granted that motion, and the Texas Rangers will not comment further on these items.
Swinton became a “person of interest” several days after law enforcement agencies entered the YFZ facility on April 3. The Department of Public Safety entered the compound after the child abuse center in San Angelo told law enforcement about several distressing calls from a female caller that she was inside the YFZ compound and needed immediate help. The seriousness of these calls was conveyed from the family crisis center to Child Protective Services (CPS). The CPS then contacted the Schleicher County Sheriff’s Department in Eldorado, Texas, who immediately requested the assistance of the Texas Rangers for the massive operation.
Once officers had gained access to the property, investigators obtained a second warrant based on evidence they witnessed regarding possible sexual assault.
The information leading the Texas Rangers to Swinton took several days to develop with intelligence and assistance from numerous law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada, including he [sic] United States Marshal’s Service in San Antonio and Denver and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia, Canada.
The information, evidence and a statement obtained from Swinton by the Texas Rangers while they were in Colorado will be forwarded to state and federal prosecutors for their review and determination as to whether Swinton will be charged with a criminal offense.
The Texas Rangers are continuing their investigation into the underage marriages of adolescent females with older males within the sect.
Since this is an ongoing investigation, DPS and the Texas Rangers will have no further comment at this time.