AUSTIN (AP) — Lawyers for the state said in court Thursday that a woman from the Texas polygamist sect who gave birth this week while in the state's custody is not a minor.
State lawyers said at the hearing in a Travis County courtroom that the woman is free to return to her home or can remain with her three children, including the newborn, under protective care, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports in its Thursday online editions.
Last month, Child Protective Services officials took more than 400 children from the Yearning for Zion ranch near San Angelo into custody on grounds that they were in imminent danger of abuse. Sect members have denied any abuse.
Dan Jessop had sought the Thursday hearing in Austin on behalf of his wife, Louisa, and their three children, hoping to have his family reunited.
But State District Judge Darlene Byrne ruled that her court had no jurisdiction in the matter because a judge in San Angelo had already ruled that the state could keep custody of the children while the investigation continues into conditions at the West Texas compound.
Jessop though said he viewed the hearing as at least a partial victory. He said he is relieved that his children are being kept together with their mother. He will continue to seek the full reunification of his family.
"They are my children, and I know that if they are with my wife they will remember me and she will teach them as we've always tried to teach them," Dan Jessop said after the hearing. "We know that eventually, we'll be back together."
Willie Jessop, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist LDS Church, said, "This is an awesome day in a way."
"This mother will get to stay with her three children, and we exposed the corruption of CPS. We've told them all along that this woman was an adult, and they just ignored us," Willie Jessop said.
The group has been fighting to regain custody of the children who were taken from the ranch six weeks ago.