Judge: Kids to stay in state's custody

April 18, 2008 8:44:13 PM PDT
More than 400 children taken from a ranch run by a polygamous sect will stay in state custody and be subject to genetic testing, a judge ruled Friday. State District Judge Barbara Walther heard 21 hours of testimony over two days before ruling that the children be kept by the state. Individual hearings will be set for the children over the next several weeks.

She ordered that all 416 children and parents be given genetic testing. Child welfare officials say they've had difficulty determining how the children and adults are related because of evasive or changing answers.

The raid was prompted by a call from someone identifying herself as a 16-year-old girl with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which operates the ranch. She claimed her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her.

Colorado Springs officials this week arrested 33-year-old Rozita Swinton on suspicion of making a false report. The Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that she became a "person of interest" several days after the April 3 raid.

Officers found items indicating a possible connection between Swinton and calls made to a Texas crisis center, officials said.

Authorities did not say whether a call by Swinton is the one that triggered the raid.

Swinton's whereabouts were unknown, and it wasn't known whether she had an attorney. A phone number for Swinton in Colorado Springs was disconnected.

Some people have contacted CPS about donating clothes or toys for the children. If you wish to donate items, contact Bernadette Cashin at 713-940-5252.

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