41. Texas officials allegedly knew, before entering the YFZ Ranch, that the only person who was suspected of causing harm to one of the FLDS children was not present at the ranch, leaving the officials with no valid constitutional reason to enter the ranch.
As mentioned in a previous post, attorneys representing three FLDS fathers filed a petition for writ of habeus corpus that described the living conditions faced by the FLDS children while in state custody. This petition also makes serious claims regarding the legitimacy of the raid of the FLDS community, alleging that Texas authorities had information indicating that Dale Barlow, the subject of the initial search and arrest warrant, was not located at the YFZ Ranch. According to the petition:
The Agency [CPS] entered the Community with law enforcement officers based upon a telephone call from a known non-local number in Colorado Springs, Colorado to the New Bridge Family Shelter by a thirty three year old childless female identifying herself as a 16 year old female who said that she was Sarah Jessup Barlow and spiritually married to a 49 year old man, Dale Evans Barlow, [who] was physically and sexually abusing her. The Agency’s pre-raid investigation determined that the accused 49 year old man was an Arizona resident, under supervision on probation by an Arizona probation officer who resided in Arizona. Before execution of the warrant, Sheriff Doran [sheriff of Schleicher County, Texas] was also advised that Dale Barlow was in Arizona and not within the Community. In fact, the Sheriff spoke to Mr. Barlow in Arizona by cell phone and, after confirming his identity, Barlow told the Sheriff that he did not know any Sarah Jessup and had never been to the [Y]earning for Zion Community nor to Texas for some twenty years. The Agency was also advised that there was no Sarah living in the Ranch….
Prior to entering the premises, Sheriff Doran actually spoke to Dale Barlow in Arizona by cell phone, confirming his driver’s license number and the fact that he was in Arizona. Moreover, Mr. Barlow advised that he did not know any Sarah Jessup, had not been to Texas in over 20 years, and had never been to the YFZ Ranch. Thus, before the search warrant was executed, the officers had been apprised, and even verified, that the only person these officers alleged to be suspected of criminal activity or to pose “an immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse of a child” was not located on the premises, or even in the State of Texas. [emphasis added]
The Sheriff’s version of the story, as reported by the Deseret News, does not convincingly challenge this basic claim made by the petition:
A dialogue was made between myself and this gentleman that proclaimed to be Dale Evans Barlow. That still left in question the victim Sarah. As far as we were concerned she was still in jeopardy, was still on the property and still in need of intervention.
The original search and arrest warrant only alleged abuse by Dale Barlow against Sarah. Given that law enforcement had substantial reason to believe that Dale Barlow was not in Texas and given that there were readily accessible means – such as checking with his probation officer in Arizona – for confirming that Barlow was not in Texas, it appears to me that the search and arrest warrant fails to meet the constitutional standard.
If there were legitimate criminal cases involving members of the FLDS community, it appears that the manner of handling the raid has invalidated the evidence about such cases that was collected as a result of the raid. The CPS case has already largely gone up in legal smoke. If the above information presented in the petition is true, any criminal cases based on the raid are likely to go up in constitutional smoke.