While I reflect upon all that I have to be thankful for this holiday season, I’m reminded that a year ago on November 21 the Tutt family in Dallas County had their seven children removed from their home in an illegal order by an appointed judge, supported by the illegal actions of a CPS caseworker.
The family, the parents and children, are devastated and weary from the now year-long battle with the state. Many of our supporters have expressed disappointment and frustration that it has taken so long to bring justice to the Tutts. We too are frustrated by the judicial misconduct delaying justice and impeding a family’s unity, but we intend to stand with the Tutts until justice is done–however long it takes and whatever the cost. Texas must send the message that the overreach of government against families will not go unanswered.
To make matters even worse, recently the family’s home sustained serious fire damage when the freestanding garage caught fire because a squirrel chewed through the wiring. The fire inspector identified the exact place where the chewing occurred, resulting in arcing that started the fire.
The garage was already engulfed by the time Trevor discovered the fire. He was at the store and arrived home just in time to get Christina and the children out of the house. There was no noise, smoke, or any indication of the inferno outside from where they were inside the house, getting ready for dinner.
The fence, a gazebo, the garage, and the back of the house all burned. The firefighters had to knock holes in the back walls of the house on all three floors to confirm the fire was not spreading there. The bedrooms were all in that part of the house. There was extensive water damage to their bedrooms and the kitchen. The electricity had to be cut because the meter melted.
Now in addition to the year-long battle to get their children back, the Tutts are looking for affordable housing in Southwest Dallas. Please pray for this dear family and their children. Pray that they can find housing and that the Dallas Appeals Court will end this terrible tragedy. If you are aware of affordable housing that might be available to the Tutts, please contact their friend Candice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THSC and the Tutt family are grateful for the prayers, and we are both very appreciative of the financial support to THSC that has enabled us to pay for the legal expenses to defend this family and move forward toward the restoration of the whole family.
Here is a timeline of the family’s past year:
- November 21, 2013 – Seven Tutt children are illegally removed from their home by CPS.
- December 21, 2013 – In a 12-hour hearing, the judge allowed attacks on the family’s Christian faith, community service, and home schooling. The judge refused to dismiss the case and return the children.
- January 7, 2014 – The removal of the children is ruled unjustified, and four of seven children are returned to the family but are required to continue public schooling and to have regular visits with CPS.
- January 27, 2014 – THSC asks the commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct an investigation of the CPS caseworker who testified she had not asked for the removal of the children, but later changed her report to say they were in danger.
- January 29, 2014 – THSC holds a press conference to publicize these abuses of power and to demand an investigation.
- February 10, 2014 – CPS tries to prevent Mrs. Tutt from accompanying her young children on a sibling visit with one of the Tutt children still in CPS custody. There is no court order to that effect.
- March 2014 – CPS assigns a new caseworker to the Tutts’ case.
- August 28, 2014 – Judge Callahan rules two of the four children at home be released from CPS oversight and be allowed to return to home schooling. Their attorney believes this ruling was intended to apply to all four children, but has not yet received a written order to clarify.
- September 16, 2014 – The 5th Court of Appeals denies relief to the Tutt family, ruling that the family has no official record to prove their accusations against the court. The lower court had refused to provide the Tutts’ attorney with the court records to which she is entitled.
Today, a year after this saga began with the Tutt children being illegally removed by CPS, the four children who were returned after two months in foster care are finally allowed to home school again. However, the other children have yet to be returned to the family. This, in spite of the court’s clear ruling that the removal was unjustified and the parents were not abusive.
The attorney currently representing the family has finally received the transcript of the January hearing after months of unjust denial of that record, and is preparing a second filing with the Dallas Court of Appeals to override the judge and return all of their children. Should that court fail to rule justly, an appeal will be made to the Texas Supreme Court as well, and THSC will file a brief supporting that action.
In the meantime, hearings and court actions continue on behalf of the children not yet returned to the family. This includes a biological sibling of two of the children returned to the Tutts. This sibling is still in foster care and CPS continues to seek to thwart the adoption of that child, which was in progress at the time of the removal of the children.
Legal counsel for the family is preparing for a jury trial if necessary to restore these children to their parents. In addition to these developments, CPS is limited by law to 12 months in such cases before it is required to drop its involvement if it has not proven its accusations. It will not come as a surprise to those who have followed this case closely that the judge has already granted CPS an extension to allow more time for it to drag out its actions against this family.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support that enable us to continue to pay for the legal fees in this battle for parental rights. What can you give today to Keep this Texas Family Free?
Some have asked how they can make a financial gift to the Tutt’s to help with recent issues. If you would like to donate towards the personal belongings lost in the fire (including Winter clothing and all of Mr. Tutt’s woodworking tools) you may do so at the following Paypal address: email@example.com or via mail Trevor & Christina Tutt ℅ Summers Family 900 Moorhead Court, Arlington, Texas 76014
Thank you for your support in Keeping Texas Families Free.