Government agents had no legal right to seize hundreds of children from a Mormon fundamentalist compound in Texas, an appeals court has ruled. The government argued that the children were suffering abuse, but the court decided the children had been in no immediate danger.
The court said that the reasons given for the children’s removal were “legally and factually insufficient”.
But it did not immediately order the return of the children to the ranch.
In April, officials raided a compound of the sect, saying young girls were being forced into marriage and sex. The children were placed into foster care.
But the Texas Third Appeal Court ruled that officials failed to demonstrate the children were in any immediate danger, which is the only legally allowable reason for taking children from their homes without court proceedings.