Gift of Love: Tyler Attorney Represents Polygamist Girl - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/7/08 - Tyler

Gift of Love: Tyler Attorney Represents Polygamist Girl

When more than 400 children were removed from their compound in West Texas and taken into state custody, Tyler Attorney Scott Scammahorn volunteered to handle a case.

"This is basically Texas legal history and all students and legal scholars will be studying this for years to come but at the same time, it's heart breaking because you've got 463 children torn from their mothers and fathers," says Scott Scammahorn, of Scammahorn Law Firm

Scott is representing a 3 year old girl. Right now, she is placed in a Fort Worth group home.

"She called me the other night with the help of a CPS investigator. I got on the phone and I hear breathing. It was really heartbreaking. I have a daughter about her age. I said, 'I'm going to help you and everything is going to be O.K,' and then the phone dropped."

Along with all the other children, his client had to undergo DNA testing to determine parental rights. "As far as my client's concerned and her immediate family, DNA testing came back and there has been no underage marriages or child births and I'm please with that," explains Scott.

Scott has visited with the little girl's parents. Her father, who Scott has been told has three wives, says he's grateful for the legal help. Her mother's focus, is the children.

"She said she would do anything to have her kids back, even if that means leaving the ranch and leaving the religion," says Scott.

Scott recently toured the compound in El dorado and the home where his client lives. The log cabin home houses 3 families, his client lives in the basement.

Scott says, "There are 3 bedrooms, full baths, it's very clean and a big kitchen. I didn't see many toys which concerned me, but her mother has assured me that she has play time and so forth. So, the toys must have been put up."

Scott describes a typical day for his 3 year old client. She gets up at about 5:30 A.M., helps with dishes, laundry, and gardening. She has lunch and a nap, then meets up with older kids returning from school. She helps with dinner, then goes to bed by 8:30pm.

The school the older children attend is located on the compound. Scott says, "I toured that and it was interesting. Every room had a picture of the prophet. I looked at the books that they're reading. I didn't see a lot of math and science, doesn't mean it's not there. I saw mostly books on Mormonism."

While the pieces of this custody puzzle continue to be put together, this Tyler Attorney's attention is on this 3 year old girl, and what's in her best interest.

"I don't know what's going to happen in this case but I hope that the children are reunited with their mothers because 75% of children placed in foster care end up either in jail or on the streets and that's a disturbing statistic."

All of the children are supposed to get individual hearings in the next few months to help determine whether they'll stay in state custody or if they will return to one or both parents. The fist custody hearings are set to begin May 19th.

Gillian Sheridan Reporting 

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