Odessa American: 'Children' Plan To Appeal Case

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'Children' Plan To Appeal Case

The Odessa American/1971-12-02

DALLAS (AP) — The controversial Children of God went to court Wednesday la seek release on a writ of habeas corpus of one of their members confined in a local mental home.

They were defeated on points of law but vowed an immediate appeal of the appeal of the case.

"God will have His way in the end," said Adria, a member of the religious sect's Dallas colony, which crowded the courtroom.

"The more they afflict them, the more they will multiply and grow," added Abel, pointing to a text from Exodus 1-2 in his little pocket Bible.

The central figure in the case was Miriam McLendon of Sherman, Tex., who was allegedly snatched away from the Children of God colony at Fort Worth and confined in the expensive Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital since Nov. 5.

Miss McLendon, looking younger than her 18 years, seemed completely calm and collected as she testified. She wore her brown hair long on her shoulders, had granny specs, and the leather and bras ox yoke symbol of the Children was around her neck.

Her mother, Mrs. Juliet McLendon, was in court.

Before the case began the girl was warmly embraced by Dorcas and Judith, two members of the Fort Worth colony. They hung together for almost a minute in a kind of triple embrace, crying and moaning softly.

As Miriam went into court, the other girls called "The Lord is with you."

James Johnston, lawyer for the Children of God, argued there were irregularities in the way the girl was committed to Timberlawn. He claimed that she was only examined by two Sherman doctors - Dr. J. H Stout, the family physician, and Dr. David H. Darling - for a few minutes, that she never had a lawyer to advise her, and that she was not notified when a hearing on her case was held before the Grayson County judge.

Miriam described how she was removed from the Fort Worth colony of the Children of God and taken first to the Tarrant County sheriff's department and then home to Sherman by her mother and a minister. After seeing the two doctors and going through some formalities at the Grayson County courthouse, she said, her mother drove her to Dallas and Timberlawn.

Under cross-examination from Jack G. Kennedy of Sherman, representing Mrs. McClendon, Miriam agreed that her mother told her she thought she (Miriam) needed help. She said she didn't question her mother's interest in her welfare. She was not chained, shackled or restrained in any way when her mother drove her to the hospital, she said.

Kennedy claimed that the case brought by the Children of God was "a collateral attack" on the judgment of the Grayson County court. Arguing that the commitment order was valid as executed he said: The young lady must resort to other remedies for her freedom."

District Court Judge Spencer Carver, denying the write of habeas corpus, said he found "no reason to believe that there had been any other motice than concern for the mental health of Miriam McLendon." He also found "no warrant from this evidence for any disturbance of the observation and treatment directed by Grayson County."

Before the girl was returned to Timberlawn, Mrs. McLendon, who is a language teacher at Austin College, stood talking with her daughter, an arm around her waist. The girl seemed near tears.

Mrs. McLendon said she was pleased at the court decision. "My daughter is ill," she said. "There (at Timberlawn) she can get the treatment she needs. She had symptoms and they became more evident after she joined the Children of God."