One decade later, Hildale reflects on FLDS raid that became nation’s largest child custody case

Aerial shot of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' temple at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, May 17, 2006 | Photo courtesy of Randy Mankin via Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

HILDALE — Elizabeth Rohbock stood to say “thank you.”

“I’d like people to know is how grateful I am for what people did for us. The media, people I’ve never met,” she said Saturday. “I’d like them to know, thank you. Thank you so much.”

Willie Jessop speaks to a crowd at an event recognizing the 10-year anniversary of the YFZ raid, Hildale, Utah, March 31, 2018 | Photo by Ben Winslow, courtesy of FOX 13 News, St. George News

Rohbock lived through the 2008 raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church’s “Yearning For Zion” ranch. Responding to a phone call alleging abuse, Texas authorities raided the sprawling property just outside Eldorado, taking more than 400 children into protective custody.

The phone call that sparked the raid was a hoax. Authorities at the time feared another Waco incident with the cloistered Utah-based polygamous church. They went in with armored vehicles and guns.

On Saturday, the 10-year anniversary of the raid, more than a hundred  people gathered at Hildale’s Water Canyon High School for a program to recognize the massive event, FOX 13 News reported. Reporters who covered it shared their perspectives. So did attorneys who represented FLDS children in custody of Texas Child Protective Services.

Willie Jessop, a former bodyguard of Jeffs who rushed to help FLDS members caught up in the raid, said the history of the raid is complicated. He bitterly disagrees with the state of Texas’ approach in taking all of the children into CPS custody, splitting up families and then scattering the children all over the state. He argued it was because the FLDS was an unpopular religion.

“Where was the line crossed between religiously-motivated bigotry, and where is it where Warren Jeffs was violating little children?” he said.

In the years since the raid, infants are now turning 10 and children are now young adults. Some barely remember the events, while their parents have it scarred into their memories.

Read the full story here:

Written by BEN WINSLOW,

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018, KSTU. A Tribune broadcasting station.

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