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Sect children's future uncertain

  • Story Highlights
  • More than 400 children likely to return to families, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin says
  • Mother says she'll wait until children are with her before she rejoices over ruling
  • Parents say children have suffered from separation
  • Agency that took children says it's considering next move
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(CNN) -- Children from a polygamist sect who one mother says are "hurting very badly" in state custody are likely to be returned to their parents, a CNN legal analyst says.


FLDS member Margaret Jessop says her children "feel betrayed by adults."

A Texas appeals court ruled Thursday that the state had no right to remove hundreds of children from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints' ranch in Eldorado on April 3, based on the suspicion that a few were being sexually abused.

A sect mother who has four children in state custody said the matter has not been fully resolved because an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court is possible.

"I'm very grateful, but I'd like to see the children in my arms before I rejoice greatly," Margaret Jessop said on CNN's "Larry King Live." Video Watch Jessop react to the ruling »

But a permanent reunion of families is likely, said Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst.

"Based on this ruling I think it's clear that if it stands, all these kids are going back with their mothers," Toobin said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°."

Jessop and other FLDS parents said they had been permitted visits with their children in foster care.

Zavenda Young said two of her children were sent to Waco, Texas, and two to Hockley, 148 miles away.

"They're in Boys and Girls Country in Hockley. And it's just a -- it's an institution," she told host Larry King.

Their father, Edson Jessop, said the experience has been rough on the children.

"You can see it's a lot of stress on them," he said. "Every time we leave, they go through that trauma again. It's enough to rip your heart out."

"They feel betrayed by adults, and they're hurting very badly," Margaret Jessop added.

The Texas Child Protective Services Department's Web site says the agency has been "coordinating with many professional service and government agencies to ensure the safety, health and comfort of the children and women in Eldorado."


A statement from the agency Thursday said it's working out a response to the court ruling.

"Child Protective Services has one duty -- to protect children," the statement said. "When we see evidence that children have been sexually abused and remain at risk of further abuse, we will act. ... We will work with the office of the attorney general to determine the state's next step in this case."

All About Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

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