Lawyers for Texas Child Protective Services dropped several bombshells in court today as they try to make their case for why the state should take custody of a 1-week-old baby born to a woman who was once declared a minor. During grueling questioning on the witness stand, Louisa Jessop answered, "I don't know" to many questions CPS lawyers posed to her, including where she lived before, how she came to be there, and who lived in the home with her.
Testimony revealed she lived most recently in a home with YFZ Ranch leader Merrill Jessop and his son Dan, who is her husband.
But Jessop struggled to name anyone else who lived in the home, aside from Merrill Jessop's wife Barbara and her own husband, Dan, and her children. Jessop testified she was married to her husband by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs. She didn't know her husband that well before she married him. Pressing their case about the department's belief about a pervasive pattern of sex abuse on the ranch, where girls grow up to be child brides and boys predators, CPS attorney Ellen Griffiths showed photos to Jessop, claiming that the girl in the picture was 13. Asked what is age appropriate to be married, she replied "Seventeen or 18."
Asked if the prophet had ever told anyone in her family to marriage at age 14, Jessop said not that she knew of.
Later, her husband, Dan Jessop, took the witness stand. As CPS lawyers read him a long list of names, he interrupted them saying, "I beg to differ if this has anything to do with my son."
CPS lawyers pressed forward, trying to make their case of prevalent sex abuse within the FLDS culture. CPS attorney Eric Tai asked if there was anything wrong with a 14-year-old girl getting married to an older man. "I think there's everything wrong with that," Dan Jessop said.
"Why?" "It's against my religion, against my beliefs. I have no idea of anything like that happening." Tai then suggested that one of his sisters is married to Jeffs.
Dan Jessop's lawyer, Patricia Matassarin, objected to the hearing itself, making reference to Thursday's 3rd Court of Appeals ruling vacating Judge Barbara Walther's order to put the children in state custody. Matassarin wondered if there was any immediate or dire emergency for why the state should have custody of the child
As Six men are arrested by Bedfordshire Police investigating child sexual abuse images on the internet. The force said raids were made on 14 properties in the county in the spring and more than 30 computers seized. Material found at 11 addresses warrants further investigation, a police spokesman said. Following the arrests one man has received a police caution and files on five others have been sent to the CPS for advice on prosecution.