When Susan L. Hays took an attorney ad litem assignment for one of the many Texas custody cases of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, she never imagined her client would be 2 years old.“I thought I was going to get a pregnant teenager and her creepy 50-year-old husband,” says Hays, a Dallas sole practitioner who co-founded Jane’s Due Process, a Texas group that helps teenagers obtain legal abortions without parental consent.Hays was among the nearly 300 lawyers who represented children removed earlier this year by Texas authorities from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado. The state believed that church leaders there were arranging “spiritual marriages” between teenage girls and older men who engaged in polygamy.When news broke in early April of the massive child protection action, lawyers by the hundreds volunteered to represent them from nearly every point of the Lone Star State. But for many of them, what began as a mission to save abused children morphed very quickly. By the time the action was halted by a state appeals court, Hays and others had discovered a different, more complex truth confronting them on the ground.On the one hand the church has promised… Read full this story
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