SAN ANGELO, Texas — Two men excommunicated by a polygamist sect went to a West Texas courtroom Tuesday to offer themselves as guardians for their children, who were seized from a church-run ranch.
"If we can establish I'm not guilty of those things, why can't I have my children?" asked Arthur Barlow, 59, who drove from southern Utah to seek custody of five of his children who lived at the Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado.
Barlow and Frank Johnson, another father seeking custody, were both excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The hearings are designed to set up procedures for parents to regain custody of their children.
Child welfare spokesman Patrick Crimmins said that his agency has asked the parents to name relatives who could take the children, but that all will have to be vetted before getting custody.