Seven homeschool children, whose parents claim were unjustly removed from their custody by the state of Arkansas earlier this month on child abuse allegations, still remain in the state's custody after a court ruled there was probable cause to keep the children until after the parents could be judged in a mid-Feburary trial.
On Jan. 12, state and local police officers removed the seven Stanley children from their parents' home after conducting a five-hour warranted search in light of alleged child abuse complaints filed by the Stanleys' neighbors.
After the police found a legal but somewhat dangerous substance called Miracle Mineral Solution — which is known to be a remedy for cancer and AIDS — in the home, the police took the seven children and told the parents that they would be returned after 72 hours, according to their father, Hal Stanley.
As over a week has passed with their children not being returned home and after two days of litigation in the family's probable cause hearing, a Garland County judge determined that their is enough probable cause to keep the family's children in custody up until at least Feb. 12, when the Stanleys' custody trial is set to take place.
"If the judge determines that the children cannot remain safely in the home he has 30 days to set up an adjudication hearing. At that point both sides will bring all of the evidence that they have and we will make a further determination on what we will do with the children," Arkansas DHS Public Information Coordinator Kate Luck told KATV. "It is always difficult decision to remove children from the home and it is not a decision that the department or local law enforcement want to make. Unfortunately sometimes that has to happen."
The Garland County police issued a statement claiming that the children were not removed because of the finding of MMS in the home, but because of "a number of different factors" and "investigators felt they had no choice but to intervene."
However, Hal Stanley has maintained in talking with reporters that the children's removal must be due to the finding of the dangerous substance MMS, which he claims he used to purify his gardening water. Stanley also told reporters that he can't figure out any other reasons why the Arkansas Department of Health Services would have taken this action.
What put the Stanleys on the DHS' radar were two child abuse allegations filed against them by their neighbors.
According to the Christian News Network, in December 2014 a complaint was filed by a neighbor who saw the Stanleys allowing their children to walk outside in the snow with no shoes on their feet.
When a social services worker visited their home, the mother, Michelle Stanley, told the social worker that the children had plenty of shoes and that the children were just participating in a family tradition of making footprints in the snow.
A second complaint was filed against the family claiming that there was a "poisonous substance" in the home, which led to the Jan. 12 police search that ended with the kids being taken.
Although it's still unclear what the state thinks was going on in the Stanleys' home, the DHS cannot disclose the reason why the children are still being kept in custody. However, Luck said there are a number of different acceptable reasons why the DHS can legally take custody of a child.
"It could mean that the home is unfit; it could mean that the environment is not a good environment that there's dirt everywhere, it could mean that, it could also mean the children cannot safely remain there. It may be that the parents have done something to make the environment unsafe," Luck said. "Ultimately, it is always our goal to reunite families, that's what the end goal is. We want to make sure the children are safe and they are going back to a safe environment, but at the end of the day we want families together."
According to a close friend of the family who's running the Facebook page "Bring the Stanley Kids Home," the parents are allowed visitation with their children and got to visit them on Friday.
"So while the road ahead is going to be rough, be happy with us for this one brief moment we got to experience with our children on Friday," Michelle Stanley wrote in post to the Facebook page.
The Stanleys have received a swell of support, as over 14,000 people have "liked" the "Bring the Stanley Kids Home" Facebook Page.
"The Lord does not have problems only plans," Michelle Stanley's Facebook post asserts. "While the wait may seem like forever it is time to trust and wait on Him to work out His perfect will in not only our lives but everyone who has suffered through this whole ordeal, we know that we are not the only ones who are loosing [sic] sleep over this."