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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Inside Polygamy: An Exclusive & Personal Look
Aired May 24, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a Texas-sized victory for the polygamy moms. A court says the state had no right to take and keep their kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD PARKER, ATTORNEY FOR YFZ FAMILIES: They're very thrilled. They're looking forward to having the children come home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Today's ruling is blunt -- authorities didn't prove the children were in danger and taking them from their families was wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIE BALOVICH, ATTORNEY, TEXAS RIO GRANDE LEGAL AID: It's a great day for Texas justice. This was the right decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The big question now -- will the more than 400 children of the YFZ Ranch be coming home any time soon?
Tonight is an exclusive reaction inside the YFZ Ranch from parents, who claimed all along that their children were not being harmed, and from their spokesman, who lays into the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIE JESSOP, SPOKESMAN FOR YFZ RANCH: This is what happens when government goes bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's been quite a day. A Texas appeals court ruled today that the state had no right to take more than 400 children from the YFZ polygamist ranch. The court says the children were in no danger of immediate abuse, which is what their mothers argued all along.
It's a big ruling and we've got reaction from YFZ moms and the ranch spokesman, who are in the studio with me tonight. And we have exclusive reaction from parents inside the YFZ Ranch.
We begin first with KXAN reporter Jenny Hoff, who joins us from San Angelo, Texas. And, Jenny, fill us in on the details.
What happened today?
JENNY HOFF, REPORTER, KXAN-TV, AUSTIN: Well, Larry, right now you can see this courthouse is quiet. And it's going to be quiet for the next couple of days because they suspended the status hearings that were supposed to go on for at least another week. Right now, the judges are conferring, deciding what they're going to do. And CPS is deciding if they're going to proceed with the investigation and, if so, how they're going to do it.
Now we learned today at about 12 today that the court had given this ruling. And immediately, we saw lawyers that were there representing them at the ranch hugging the mothers. The mothers were running over here to the courthouse to find out if this was true.
And then Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, which was the group that filled this writ of mandamus on behalf of 38 of those mothers, gave a press conference. And they essentially said CPS did not have the evidence that all of these families were abusing their children and therefore they cannot just go in and take those kids off the ranch. They said that is a last resort. If a child is in imminent danger, you go take a child away from its parents. But you don't just do a mass exodus like this, taking all of the kids out and putting them in shelters throughout the state.
So, at this point, we don't know when those kids will be able to come home. We don't know if CPS is going to file an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. But we know they are looking at their options at this point and those parents are extremely hopeful.
KING: Jenny Hoff, what's the -- what do you hear around the courthouse?
Are they saying that an appeal is probable?
HOFF: They have not said that yet. I've heard different viewpoints. One person said they didn't think CPS would appeal it. Another person said they did think that CPS was going to do it. When I called CPS myself, they told me they were assessing the situation. They need to talk to the Texas attorney general's office and see if they have the evidence that they need to take this to the Texas Supreme Court.
Now, this isn't the end. Even if those children do go back to their parents, CPS can try to continue investigating each individual family. But that was kind of the point the court was making. You need to look at each individual family. You need to have a hearing for each family. You cannot do this on a mass scale like this and take 460 kids away from their parents and put them into shelters without any evidence to show that they were in imminent danger.
KING: Thanks, Jenny.
As usual, right on the ball -- Jenny Hoff. Now we go to Eldorado, Texas. Standing by there is Rod Parker, an attorney for the FLDS families, and Maryann Johnson and Edson Jessop. They are two mothers of children -- a mother and father, I guess -- of children who are gone.
Rod, what's the -- I guess this is an enormously happy day for you?
PARKER: Well, yes, we're very pleased with the result today, pleased with what Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid did for these families. I know there's a sense of anticipation now, as we anticipate the hopefully soon return of the children.
KING: Do you think the other side might appeal?
PARKER: I can't say what the other side might do. It's -- you know, it isn't for me to say. I think we have a very strong ruling from the court of appeals here. It's unusual for them to write this lengthy of an opinion in a case such as this. You know, in a mandamus case, that's a little unusual. It's a very strong -- it's a unanimous opinion. It rejects the position that the state took in this case on every front. And I think that although there are options of appeal open to the state, that it's a strong opinion and we hope it will stand up.
KING: Maryann, how many children of yours were taken?
MARYANN JOHNSON, HAS FOUR CHILDREN IN TEXAS CUSTODY: Four of my children. Four girls.
KING: When you heard this ruling today, what was your reaction?
JOHNSON: I was very grateful. I was thrilled. I know that there's more days ahead to anticipate whatever is coming, but I'm grateful for what -- the ruling.
KING: Were you surprised?
JOHNSON: Very much so.
KING: Edson Jessop, do you have children that are taken?
EDSON JESSOP, HAS FIVE CHILDREN IN TEXAS CUSTODY: Yes, I have four. I have three boys and a little girl.
KING: How did you hear about the court ruling?
E. JESSOP: Just somebody called and told me about it.
KING: Were you surprised?
E. JESSOP: Yes, I was very much surprised, but very grateful.
KING: Do those children all have one mother or are there different mothers, Edson?
E. JESSOP: They just have one mother.
KING: And how is she doing?
E. JESSOP: I think she's pretty grateful, too. I think she's talking to LARRY KING LIVE in Los Angeles.
KING: Oh. You're the -- oh...
KING: I knew we had a Jessop here. I didn't know she was your wife. Ah, you got me, Edson. She is on in the next segment with us. That's pretty good. Now, don't tell me you're married -- you're involved with anybody there that we have on. You're not...
E. JESSOP: I won't.
E. JESSOP: That's...
KING: I've got it all straightened out now.
E. JESSOP: Her name is Zavenda Young.
But you -- how long since you've seen your children, Edson?
E. JESSOP: I've actually been doing visits with them. I saw the youngest two yesterday.
KING: Oh, good.
Have you seen yours, Maryann?
JOHNSON: Yes, I have.
KING: Well, I'm glad to hear that.
We'll take a break and come back and we'll meet the person in the studio married to the person in Eldorado.
And if you want to go inside the YFZ Ranch gates, we'll take you there. It's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALOVICH: The parents we represent are ecstatic about this news. In ruling this way, the Third Court of Appeals has stood up for the legal rights of these families and given the mothers hope their families will be brought back together very soon. It is a great day for families in the State of Texas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back.
Joining us here in Los Angeles is Maggie Jessop, a YFZ Ranch resident and FLDS member. She's the mother of four children in Texas state custody; Zavenda Young, YFZ Ranch resident, FLDS member, mother of four children, as well, in Texas state custody; and Willie Jessop, spokesperson for the YFZ Ranch families and a member, as well, of FLDS.
Now, there is some confusion on a lot of parts here. The Edson Jessop in Eldorado is married to Zavenda Young, right?
He is not married to Maggie Jessop, who is you. And Maggie Jessop is not married to Willie Jessop. I think I've got it all straight.
An interesting thing about Zavenda was she was married at 16 by a justice on the peace, right?
W. JESSOP: That is correct. And she can speak for herself.
KING: And you were married at age 16, right?
ZAVENDA YOUNG, HAS FOUR CHILDREN IN TEXAS CUSTODY: By a justice of the peace in Salt Lake City.
KING: And your husband was killed?
YOUNG: In Lake Powell.
KING: And then you remarried Mr....
YOUNG: There's no marriage. He's -- I'm just the mother of his children.
KING: Oh, you're the mother of his children without being married.
YOUNG: Yes, sir.
KING: All right.
We'll start with Maggie.
How did you react to the decision today?
MARGARET JESSOP, HAS FOUR CHILDREN IN TEXAS CUSTODY: I'm very grateful, but I'd like to see the children in my arms before I rejoice greatly.
KING: Now, you were scheduled to be here tonight anyway.
M. JESSOP: Yes, sir.
KING: So this just turned out to be a lucky break in the sense that here you are and this decision happened. M. JESSOP: Yes.
KING: Have you been seeing your children?
M. JESSOP: I have seen my two sons once and I've seen my two daughters each three times.
KING: And what about you, Zavenda?
How often do you get to see yours?
YOUNG: I've seen them every week.
KING: Where are they?
YOUNG: Two are in Waco, Texas, and two are in Hockley.
KING: With whom?
YOUNG: Oh. It's -- there's only five little children in one place and they're in a pretty good home.
KING: A foster home?
YOUNG: They're -- no, they're in Boys and Girls Country in Hockley. And it's just a -- it's an institution.
KING: And where are yours, Maggie?
M. JESSOP: I have two boys in Amarillo at Cal Farley, a boys ranch. And one little girl in Gonzales in a BCFM home -- a Baptist home and a little girl in Boysville in Converse.
KING: How are they holding up?
M. JESSOP: They're good and bad.
KING: Some good, some bad?
M. JESSOP: Good that they're spunky and determined and I'm glad to see that. Bad that they're very traumatized. They feel betrayed by adults and they're hurting very badly.
KING: Willie, you realized, I guess, that society looked aghast at this -- at polygamy. General society looks aghast at it.
Were you surprised at this ruling today that the state court of appeals takes a position favorable to you?
W. JESSOP: I am very grateful for the decision. And we had to know, at some point, that not everyone lives polygamy. And just because it has a belief in it, I think that the world over has more polygamy in it than there's monogamy. And so if we're a country that champions religious beliefs, I wasn't surprised. It had to come down because we needed every person to have an individual hearing and look at their case, instead of what the judge refers to as a roundup. KING: The investigation that was going on apparently now has -- or the court cases and the hearings have been stopped.
W. JESSOP: That's my understanding.
KING: Yes. At least for two or three days.
Do you fear or feel there will be an appeal?
W. JESSOP: You know, Larry, I have a great belief that there is enough people -- and I've met them -- that can recognize a wrong when they see it. And they'll look at it as what it was. It was bad information. And we're hoping that they're not too proud to admit and that we can mend some fences. And there shouldn't be one.
KING: Maggie, what happened the day they were taken?
Where were you, where were the kids?
M. JESSOP: I was traveling out of state and my children were there on the ranch. And I got a phone call that said what was happening. And I can't even describe my feelings.
KING: You were shocked?
M. JESSOP: Oh, absolutely. I was shocked.
KING: Where was your husband?
M. JESSOP: I'm not sure where he was at the time, because we didn't have the phone contact very well at the time.
KING: Are you with him now?
M. JESSOP: I'm with these two now.
KING: Are you with your husband together in -- are you living together?
M. JESSOP: I'm in L.A. . I'm not sure where he is.
KING: You're being cute with me, Maggie.
No. Is -- are you still with your husband?
M. JESSOP: Of course. I claim him always.
M. JESSOP: He is my -- I don't live with him.
Does he talk to you about the children?
They're his children, right? M. JESSOP: Yes, sir, they are.
KING: So does he talk to you about the children, about missing them, etc.?
M. JESSOP: Oh, of course. Yes.
KING: So you don't live with him, but you're not unfriendly?
M. JESSOP: Oh, no.
KING: What do you make of this whole thing, Zavenda -- the whole thing, when they take the -- what's your...
YOUNG: It's devastating. It is tearing those little children's hearts right out. Every time we see them -- which we're grateful we get to see them. But they go through that trauma all over again. They just -- they just break down. Their little hearts are broken.
KING: How old are they?
YOUNG: I have a 3-year-old, a 5-year-old, a seven and nine. And it is -- I hope there's no permanent damage.
KING: Who has the worst time with it?
YOUNG: The youngest one, by far.
KING: The three, the three and five?
YOUNG: She just cannot understand.
KING: Is the 9-year-old a boy or a girl?
YOUNG: It's a boy and he's trying to be strong. He's...
KING: Where he is, are they taking good care of him?
YOUNG: I don't have a lot of complaints, except they've taken all the religion out of their life. All...
YOUNG: Even his Book of Mormon. He has hid his song book so that he could keep that. They...
KING: He gets no religious services of any kind?
YOUNG: Oh, no.
KING: A guided tour of the YFZ Ranch is next.
KING: As we have heard, today's appeals court ruling could lead to the return of more than 400 FLDS children to their families and the Yearning for Zion Ranch.
Recently, LARRY KING LIVE cameras were given exclusive access to that community.
Willie Jessop, who is with us here tonight in L.A. , was our guide for this unusual look inside the YFZ grounds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
W. JESSOP: I think you could call it a compound.
A compound is defined as what?
It's something that's restricted, isn't it?
Anybody can leave any time they want. This right here is a school building. This would be normally a beautiful day for school for the community. Everybody else is looking for their children or looking for some legal help for their children or for themselves to get their children.
It looks like spelling books -- reading, writing -- anything that would be in any other normal school. This would be a room full of students. And they'd meet in the morning, have a few songs, a prayer, start the day off and then the rest of the school.
You would normally see the rooms very, very well kept. You wouldn't see filing cabinets and papers laying around, ransacked garbage cans full and everything gone through. This is not how it's typically been. It's been trashed.
Anybody can go and come as they need or want. But the idea of the ranch is it was built to sustain itself -- to sustain the people that are here.
Welcome to the cow barn. They milk six on each side. If you don't milk it, it's a use it or lose it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's a cheese vat right there. That heats up the milk and stirs it -- the ingredients to make cheese out of the milk. They would be busy in here normally.
W. JESSOP: Why do you need cheese when you have no children to give it to?
This would be clear full of people working. This was a community that was growing, building. The fields out there with the rows is the potato fields. Right next to the potato field is the alfalfa fields. Basically, you had everything in any community. And you had gardens, you had fields, pastures and that little town down below.
Where was the abuse?
Was it that house or that house or that one or that one or that one or that one?
Where was the abuse?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Good job, Mr. Jessop.
W. JESSOP: Thank you.
KING: You sound like you've been doing this a long time.
Maryann Johnson in Eldorado, do you get to see your -- did you get to see your children?
JOHNSON: Yes. I've seen them twice now. I got some...
KING: How are they doing?
JOHNSON: They're doing well. They're just lonesome. And I talk to them on the phone and I -- they just talk to me and then they hold it quiet for a minute.
KING: What are their ages?
JOHNSON: Their ages are 15, 13, 10 and 8.
KING: Are they handling it well under the circumstances?
KING: Edson, do you get -- have you seen your kids?
E. JESSOP: Yes, I've seen them a couple of times each now.
KING: And how are they doing?
E. JESSOP: They seem to be healthy, but you see that they're quite -- quite disturbed emotionally. I have a lot of things to say about the places that are there. We can't complain about the places. They're pretty fine.
But I have a 7-year-old boy that -- he climbed up to my knees and before -- before he was done, he climbed right up on my lap and curled up like a 2-year-old, which is very shocking. You can see it's a lot of stress on them. And then the youngest, the little girl, every time we leave, she goes through that trauma again. That's enough to just rip your heart right out.
KING: Rod Parker, do you believe that what is happening here is you're paying for a lifestyle?
PARKER: I do believe that there's an element of that here. I think that the community and this people have been stereotyped for many years and that the state acted on those stereotypes in coming in here -- and on a lot of false information that's been spread around over the years. I think one of the -- if there could be a benefit of this case, I think one of the benefits is that the public has started to see that those stereotypes are false.
As you've had access to the ranch and access to these people, I think what the public is beginning to see, that they've really been fed some false information about this community and these people, and that they're not so much different from anybody else. Their children deserve to be treated with respect and so do these people.
KING: Maggie, you would agree, though, that the public -- the general public would have antipathy toward a man with many wives?
That doesn't ring right.
M. JESSOP: You don't think so?
KING: No, I'm saying -- I have no opinion. I'm giving you what the general opinion of the public would be. It would be anti -- if you had a vote in America, polygamy/no polygamy, they would vote against polygamy.
M. JESSOP: It must because they're uneducated.
KING: All right.
And what is the plus of it?
M. JESSOP: Because there's just not enough good men to go around.
KING: What is the plus of it for you?
It's a perfect combination. It compliments each other.
KING: In other words, you don't mind that you might be one of a few women with one man?
Yes, I think you could say that.
KING: You wouldn't mind it?
KING: Willie, wouldn't you admit that it's hard to defend in a society of one man one woman?
W. JESSOP: Larry, I want to...
KING: And that's what caused this whole uproar. How could these children be good, how could they be normal, how could they react well? You know, they've got one father and they don't know who their mother is they -- the public thinks.
W. JESSOP: That's -- that's a very -- one of the bad misconceptions is, you know, children know who their father and their mother is. And I don't care where you are. And polygamy is not something for everybody. But as far as in the international community, there is far more people and far more societies that have polygamy than doesn't have polygamy.
KING: Internationally, polygamy is commonplace?
W. JESSOP: It is. It is and if you're...
KING: You're talking about Europe or where?
W. JESSOP: Mostly your Islam countries -- anything in the Middle East, China. You know, for a country that champions, you know, human rights and all this, to say over the board, should everybody in America -- we have never advocated -- I've never come to you or anyone else in America and tried to convince them about the way I live. But I also have had a strong belief that they have the right to believe and live the way they want to.
KING: What do children think about possibly going home?
We'll ask one of their attorneys, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is America, right here. A dairy, a farm, people trying to live, good ethics, a school, a good environment. Free from drugs, free from abuse, gates that open by themselves when you're inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our panel in both cities remain. Joining us now in Dallas, Texas is Susan Hays, attorney ad litum for a 2-year-old girl removed from the YFZ ranch.
Susan, before we ask you some questions, here's a statement from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. They've been very limited in its public response to today's action. This is what they say now.
Issued by spokesman Patrick Crimmons: "we just received the information from the Court of Appeals. It's being reviewed. We are trying to assess the impact this may have on our case and what our next steps will be."
And from the Texas -- the Office of Texas Governor Rick Perry, this is the statement: "this is an ongoing legal matter and our office is confident that the state's lawyers will review the appropriate next steps in this case to ensure the safety and welfare of the children involved." Susan, any comment on those statements?
SUSAN HAYS, ATTORNEY: They need to decide what's in the best interest of the children. They can let the children start going home tomorrow or they can keep fighting this and take it up to the Texas Supreme Court.
KING: What do you think they'll do?
HAYS: I hope they will except that mistakes were made. They didn't have enough evidence to meet the legal standard under the Texas Family Code to remove the children as abruptly as they did, and not give each individual family a chance to show that they take good care of their children.
KING: As a Texas lawyer, and your familiarity with the Texas Court of Appeals, were you surprised with this decision?
HAYS: I was a bit surprised, because the three judges on this panel are three of the most conservative judges. Two or them were appointed by Governor Perry. And I have to say, I'm very proud of them for following the law and not giving into political pressure.
KING: Without being too legal, in essence what did the court say?
HAYS: The court said that the state failed on all the legal grounds they needed to show to remove the children. They did not show that the children were in harm of physical safety or their health. They did not show there was an urgent need for immediate removal and they did not show that reasonable efforts were made to keep from removing children from the hope. For example, if the men, apparently, offered to leave the ranch, let the women and children return for the investigation. And the state refused that offer, and that was a harsh legal mistake to make when it comes to the interest of these children.
KING: Any state can remove children, if the parent is beating them or they are in dire needs or dire straits, right? They are all our children.
HAYS: Exactly. And the typical case is a methamphetamine lab has exploded, and the cops rush in, and there are children there. Yes, you immediately take them. But this is a very different situation. There was not an urgent need to remove them because of a threat to their physical health and safety.
KING: Why did they do this?
HAYS: I think only the governor and the Department of Family and Protective Services can answer that.
KING: You're an attorney ad litum for a little girl. What does that mean, ad litum?
HAYS: Ad litum means I am appointed by the court and I am there to represent her interest. If she were an older girl, say she was a teenager and could understand the attorney-client relationship, she would get to direct me of what I should fight for. But because she's so young, I make a decision about what I think is in her best interest, given the information I've gathered by interviewing her mother, talking to her father, and learning about her family situation. KING: What can you tell us about your little client?
HAYS: That she's safe and happy right now. But I would hope that she's reunited with her mother and her siblings soon.
KING: Who is she with?
HAYS: She's in foster care. Her family is spread out all over the state of Texas. I've been very unhappy about that. The judge made it clear to the state that she did not want siblings separated. And they did it anyway. It's made it very difficult for the children and very difficult the parents to visit them.
KING: So, her parents have not seen her?
HAYS: Her mother has been able to see her, but her mother is nursing a baby in captivity, has to arrange for another mother to keep the baby for the day, pump breast milk, get a ride halfway across the state to spend an hour with my client, go back home, cover for other mothers, watching their babies the next day, and then make a trip all the way up to Abalene to see her other children.
KING: All right, now, as her lawyer, she's one of 400-plus, what do you do now? Do you do anything? Do you just wait to see if they file the appeal? what Action do you take? Do you file anything to say release her?
HAYS: The ad litums are going to give the state, I think, a chance to wait 24 hours, see if they appeal or if they accept they made a mistake and move on. And then we're ready to do whatever we need to act in the best interest of our clients, and that may be filing writs of habeas corpus in a trial court.
KING: Anybody paying you?
HAYS: Not at this time.
KING: How were you appointed?
HAYS: Appointed by the court. Initially, the court appointed just two lawyers to represent over 400 children, and then hundreds of lawyers came in from around the state to take over for individual representation for the children.
KING: Would you call this a labor of love?
HAYS: At this point, it certainly is just love.
KING: Hang with us, Susan. We'll come back with all the panelists. Susan Hays will remain.
Tonight's quick vote: Do think polygamy is immoral?
Go to CNN.com/larryking, right now, and tell us. We're taking your calls, by the way, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN JESSOP, CHILD IN STATE CUSTODY: Been everywhere and nowhere. Stayed with friends and in hotels. I don't really know where to call home.
CONNIE JOHNSON, GRANDCHILDREN IN STATE CUSTODY: My daughter is a wonderful mother. Her children love her, and she loves them. And there is nothing, nothing that she has done wrong in handling those children. Nothing.
D. JESSOP: The most important thing is my family, and getting them back, so I'm willing to do whatever it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Maggie, where the children are, are they separated?
M. JESSOP: Yes, sir.
KING: How far apart?
M. JESSOP: Five hundred miles.
M. JESSOP: Five hundred miles.
KING: Two one place, two another?
M. JESSOP: The boys are together in Amarillo, and the girls are separated 500 miles apart from the boys.
KING: How far are yours?
YOUNG: They are just three hours apart.
KING: Three hours apart.
And Maryann in Eldorado, how far are yours?
JOHNSON: Right now, they're two hours away, and three hours away. Two different ways, so it's five hours.
KING: Edson, what about your children?
E. JESSOP: They are the same as Zavenda's, three hours apart.
KING: Couldn't they have planned it a little bit better, Willie?
W. JESSOP: That's the heart break of this thing. If there had been a good faith effort to investigate the allegations, there was a lot of options given to the state they didn't want to consider, which was, one, that the attorney pointed out. There wasn't a man there that wasn't willing to forfeit their home on the ranch to let the children and the mothers stay there. And, you know, if the state needed to do an investigation, leave the mothers and let the fathers relocate. But not do it to the women and children.
KING: Susan, this seems, for want of a better term, cruel.
HAYS: I think in the way it has affected the children, it has been cruel. There are a lot better ways the state could have handled this. They could have followed the lead of Utah and Arizona, and how they have worked with the communities to protect women and children from abuse.
KING: Rod Parker, do you agree?
PARKER: I do agree. I think one of the things that surprised me a little bit, as I came down and began sitting through hearing after hearing this week, was the fact that there wasn't a family that didn't have this problem with children spread all over Texas. And that was contrary to the judge's order. And I would have thought if there had been a good faith effort made to keep the children together, that you would have seen at least some of the children together, but they were all apart, and in fact, I sat through a hearing as an example, where a mother had just given birth to a brand new baby a week ago.
So, she had this baby, she had a 2-year-old and a 3-and-a-half- year-old, and they had all been together, the 2-year-old, the 3-and-a- half-year-old and the mother, who is 23. They are holding her as a minor. When the baby was born, the state took mother and baby and took them down to San Antonio, and left the 2-year-old and the 3-and- a-half-year-old in Austin. In the hearings, the state said, we can't put them together, because we don't have the proper contracts and the proper relationships with these shelters we've placed people in to bring the 2-year-old and the 3-year-old down to San Antonio to be with their mother.
Mother was on the phone, and she spoke up at that point, in the hearing, and said, well, I've asked the people here if that would be OK, and they said sure, that would be OK. What that told me was that the state had not even tried. They hadn't asked. All they had to do was ask.
KING: Yes. Several women from the YFZ ranch appeared on our show last month. Let's look at a small excerpt from our interview. It was very revealing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You are saying, there were no young girls at that ranch ever, ever married to, say, men in their 20s or 30s?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not to our knowledge.
KING: You never saw anyone having sex with an underaged girl?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, sir. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: If I asked the same question of you, would you respond the same wail?
KING: Same for you, Maryann and Edson?
JOHNSON: : Yes.
KING: OK. At your -- at the compound, the children, what kind of schooling do they get? Are they schooled at the compound? Or do they go to schools?
YOUNG: It's not a compound. It's a very beautiful community.
KING: In the community, how are they schooled?
YOUNG: There's a wonderful school there. Top notch.
KING: With credited teachers?
YOUNG: They're home schooled. It's a private school. They are home schooled.
KING: Do the kids ever leave the place?
YOUNG: For what reason?
YOUNG: Oh, yes.
KING: Can an 18-year-old leave of his or her own volition?
YOUNG: Absolutely. Any time.
KING: The case, of course, isn't over by any means. Hopefully, maybe. What happens next? Some answers after the break.
KING: Our panel is with us. Let's take a call from McKinney, Texas.
CALLER: Hi. I was just wondering, we all know that the children, the court ruled that there wasn't enough evidence of abuse to hold the children. So, I was wondering, is your definition of abuse the same as the court? Or is it different? KING: Susan, you want to take that?
HAYS: The court didn't find that there may never be abuse in this community. They found there wasn't enough abuse to abruptly remove these children from their home. The state could still investigate abuse in the community, or alleged abuse in the community. But they need to do it the right way. And that is work with them. Go in there the way you would in a typical child protective case and not just take the kids out without giving the parents an opportunity to have their day in court.
KING: You think you're persecuted, Willie?
W. JESSOP: Larry, it is our history. You know, it's our history, that we had an extermination ordered against us, in my view. We were pushed across the plains, burying our little children across there. And we tried to get away from it there. And we moved to southern Utah. We moved to Texas. It seems to come with the belief, yes.
KING: We have an e-mail question from Colleen in Nebraska. "We often hear that some of the children of plural marriages are supported by welfare. Is that the case with any of the YFZ ranch children? Are any of their mothers getting welfare payments?"
W. JESSOP: I can answer that one. We looked into that. There has been none that we're aware of. They may have had some help with some medical needs. But there was no children on welfare at the ranch. And as of the raid, all of them will have to be on welfare to qualify getting them back. And all the resources at the ranch, like the milk production, all of the resources there, has gone to waste, because there's no one there to consume them. So no there wasn't.
KING: None of the women with us tonight get welfare payments from the state or the government or anywhere?
W. JESSOP: No.
KING: Another e-mail question from Evan in Princeton, New Jersey. "Are members of the FLDS allowed to watch television?"
YOUNG: Allowed or want to?
KING: Well, I guess -- you mean none of you want to?
YOUNG: It's not a good way to raise children.
KING: Do you have a television set?
YOUNG: We do not. We're not interested in it. If someone really wanted to, certainly they would be.
KING: What if an FLDS member wanted a television set?
W. JESSOP: Larry, I guess I'm one of the outcasts. Yes, I watch television when I want. And my family will be home watching this tonight.
KING: Maryann, do you watch television?
JOHNSON: No, not right now.
KING: And Edson, do you watch television?
E. JESSOP: I used to. I chose to take it out of my home, because I couldn't raise my children with the moral standard that I want with it in the home. So out of choice, a number of years ago, I took it out of my home.
KING: Susan Hays, what do you think is going to happen? Give me a prediction.
HAYS: I think the state will probably take it up to the Texas Supreme Court. I hope they act quickly to decide this case, and I, you know, would -- I can't say what they're going to do, but this opinion is so strong and well-reasoned. I hope they leave it as it is and let these families go home.
I will add to something Miss Jessop said earlier about good men are hard to find. The lead appellate lawyers in this case, David Skank and Robert Docket (ph) are great men, great lawyers, and I'm proud of the job they've done, the opinion they've gotten, and I hope we see good for the families.
KING: They weren't hard to find. Thanks, Susan. We'll call on you again. And we'll wrap up this edition of LARRY KING LIVE after the break.
KING: Before we wrap things up, Willie Jessop wanted to thank some people?
W. JESSOP: I do, Larry. And that is, I -- I think Susan did a wonderful job in saying that it was an act of love, because there's been an outpouring of people that will treat people as humans, even if they have some misunderstandings, or disagreement on belief. There's been a human element, and there are some people from Texas Legal Aid, and these attorney ad litums.
So many people have poured their heart and soul into that courtroom on behalf of these ladies and little children, and these little children will never know, other than what their parents tell them, about how hard they've worked for them, in the courtrooms, and in the court systems, to try to bring some resolution to this problem. And there's been so many wonderful e-mails, and prayers and support throughout West Texas. And it hasn't been all one-sided. There's been some very bad things and there's been some wonderful, wonderful people.
KING: Maggie, are you confident you're going to get your kids back now?
M. JESSOP: Yes, sir. Very confident.
KING: Think it will be soon?
M. JESSOP: I expect so.
KING: I guess you hope they don't appeal?
M. JESSOP: Well, I hope they'll realize they made a mistake, and that they'll withdraw gracefully.
KING: You think you're going to get them back soon?
YOUNG: I sure hope so. Everything's bigger in Texas, and they can give a bigger apology.
KING: Do you pray?
YOUNG: Oh, very much.
KING: Maryann, are you confident you are going to get your kids back soon?
JOHNSON: I hope so.
KING: And Edson, of course, your kids are the same kids as Zavenda's kids. Are you confident, Edson?
E. JESSOP: Yes, I trust that we'll get them back, and I sure want to thank the people in Texas for helping us, too.
KING: Rod Parker, do you think they're going to appeal?
PARKER: You know, it's hard to say if they'll appeal. I think that if -- even if they do, one of the things that you have to keep in mind is, they have to also ask the court of appeals, at some level, for a stay of the order that's already been entered. Otherwise, that order takes affect in ten days. I hope that they -- that they don't appeal, and that we find a graceful way out of this mess. But we're prepared, if they do.
KING: Are you saying if they don't appeal within ten days it's binding?
PARKER: Well, my understanding is that in ten days, the court -- the initial order taking the children will be vacated. By that time there has to be some stay in place if they want to continue to hold the children. That's the way I understand it.
KING: You say it looks good?
PARKER: I would say things are looking really good today. A lot better than they were a couple days ago.
KING: Thank you all very much. Willie Jessop, Maggie Jessop, Zavenda Young, Marryann Johnson, Edson Jessop, Rod Parker and Susan Hays. Head to our Web site, CNN.com/Larry King, and participate in our polygamy vote. Our podcast is available for downloading too. Tomorrow it's an "American Idol" exclusive; the winner David Cook and the nine finalists will all be here, their first appearance as a group since the finale last night. That's LARRY KING LIVE Friday. And they'll be back for a new hour on Monday night. So send us your e- mails and I ask questions, CNN.com/larryking.
Right now it's time for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360."