Judge to Parents: Leave Compound, Get Kids Back

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - A state judge has told parents whose children were seized from a southwestern Arkansas religious compound that they could have their children back if they severed ties with the community.

Miller County Circuit Judge Jim Hudson in the past week heard testimony that children received beatings at Tony Alamo's compound for seemingly minor infractions.

He said the parents of two girls taken away from the compound had to move out and demonstrate financial independence if their children were to be returned to them.

The state Department of Human Services alleges one of the girls had been beaten and that the other had witnessed abuse. When the hearing wrapped up last night, the 14- and 16-year-old girls were allowed to meet briefly with their parents before state social workers escorted them away.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)