SAN ANGELO, Texas (CNN) -- The state of Texas should not have removed children it took from a polygamist sect's ranch because it didn't prove they were in "imminent enough" danger, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
In its ruling, the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals decided in favor of 38 women who had challenged the removals and appealed a decision last month by a district judge that the children will remain in state custody.
"The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department's witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," the three-judge panel said.
According to the ruling, the lead investigator in the case alleged that the belief system facilitates a lifestyle in which "male children are groomed to be perpetrators of sexual abuse and the girls are raised to be victims of sexual abuse."
An attorney representing the mothers said the trial court that originally backed the state's seizure of the children has 10 days to vacate its decision. If it doesn't, the appeals court will act, said Julie Balovich of the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
Forbidden Gospels Blog
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Today the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals said that the children of 38 of the Zion Ranch women cannot remain in state custody because their children were not proven to be in danger. So the sorting out of the families begins...