investigation against polygamist sect members ongoing
Tony Gutierrez/AP
A group of local residents, left, gather after a church service and look on as members
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prepare to board a bus in Eldorado,
Texas. (AP)

Investigation Against Polygamist Sect Members Ongoing

August 13, 2008 05:23 PM
by Cara McDonough
News surrounding the Yearn for Zion Ranch had died down, but officials have confirmed that sexual abuse and bigamy cases may still be unresolved.

More May be Charged in Unresolved Cases

Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange has declined to say how close authorities are to wrapping up 20 sexual abuse and 50 bigamy investigations against members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).
The cases were opened more than three months ago.

Five members of the group, including group leader Warren Jeffs, were indicted by a West Texas grand jury last month on charges of sexual assault of a child related to older men marrying young girls. “I suspect there’s going to be more [indictments],” Mange said.

Authorities raided the sect’s Yearn for Zion Ranch near Eldorado in April, after receiving a call from someone claiming to be a pregnant 16-year-old who had been forced into marriage. More than 400 children were taken into state custody, but were returned to family members after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had overstepped its bounds in removing them from the ranch.

FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop called the Department of Public Safety announcement that it is still working on unresolved cases “pathetic.” He said Tuesday: “Instead of acknowledging that taking the children was wrong, they have to come up with more silliness.”

Background: Raid in West Texas

533 women and children were removed from the Yearn for Zion ranch in April, where underage girls were found pregnant and taking care of their own infants.
The inhabitants of the ranch belong to a Mormon FLDS sect not recognized by the mainstream Mormon church. The FLDS broke away from the central Mormon church after the church banned polygamy in 1890.

An intensive investigation followed the raid. Officials found that more than half of the teenage girls taken from the ranch already had children or were pregnant. Other reports suggested that dozens of children taken from the ranch had previous broken or fractured bones, and some of the boys may have been sexually abused.

Reference: Mormonism and FLDS


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