(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
San Angelo, Texas (AP) Child welfare officials in Texas are deciding whether to appeal a court decision that pulls the rug out from under a decision to remove hundreds of children from a polygamist sect.
A state appeals court yesterday said the state failed to show the youngsters were in any danger.
The more than 440 children were taken from the ranch during raids last month and put in foster care out of fear they were being subject to abuse, including underage marriage.
Yesterday's ruling is seen as a humiliating defeat for the Texas Child Protective Services agency.
Members of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints see it as a vindication. They say they're being persecuted for their religious beliefs. One of their lawyers called it “a great day for Texas justice.” but the head of the sect says he'll believe it when he sees “the schoolyard full of children” again.
The state now has a week-and-a-half to decide whether to appeal or to send the children home.