Carmen Symes Dusek Recounts YFZ Ranch Child Custody Case


Ten years ago, the Texas Department of Family Protective Services took possession of more than 450 children residing at the Warren Jeffs’ Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch due to concerns about a pattern of pervasive sexual abuse of children. The case became the largest child custody case in the history of the United States. Carmen Symes Dusek, now senior counsel for Jackson Walker’s San Angelo office, was appointed lead attorney for the children. In addition to working to advise the children of their rights and advocate for their interests and needs, Carmen organized a team of 263 attorneys from across Texas in just nine days to represent the children. The case ultimately had over 500 parties involved in the litigation.

Carmen recently shared insights from the experience ten years ago in an article she contributed to the San Angelo Standard-Times. In it, she wrote:

“It was the court’s job to determine whether the children had been abused or if they would be at risk if they were returned to their families. It was the lawyers’ job to make sure the children were protected and well-represented.”

To this day, Carmen considers it a great honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to coordinate and serve the legal needs of so many children in such a uniquely challenged and complex case.

In the days following the article’s publication, news outlets Houston Chronicle, Texas Monthly, USA Today, and The Texas Lawbook featured reports regarding the events surrounding the YFZ Ranch raid and Carmen’s involvement in the case. To view The Texas Lawbook‘s article “Yearning For Zion: A Massive Child Custody Case Remembered 10 Years After,” published on May 2, 2018, click here to view the PDF.


Meet Carmen

Carmen Symes Dusek represents clients in a range of litigation matters related to personal injury defense, agriculture litigation, business litigation, probate litigation, and family law. In addition to her regular practice, Carmen is a leading advocate for protecting the rights and interests of abused and neglected children in Texas. She is involved in a variety of charitable foundations, including as a member of the San Angelo Area Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Meet JW

Since the Firm’s founding in 1887, Jackson Walker attorneys have represented some of the most influential companies in the state in industries that shaped the course of Texas history, including railroads, the media, oil and gas exploration, and technology. Our values stem from our goal of creating a positive impact in all that we do. Each day, we work to create a culture that promotes altruism within our firm and beyond to the communities where we live and work. In dedicating time and resources to local organizations, we have developed longstanding relationships with over 500 local, regional, and national civic, charitable, and professional organizations.