401 children from Texas sect compound taken into custody

Monday, April 7, 2008

YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Image: Randy Mankin of the Eldorado Success.

133 women and 401 allegedly abused children have been taken into state custody after officials received a call from a distressed 16-year-old girl. The children were found in a 1700-acre compound belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints during a raid which started on Saturday. Children as young as 6 months have been removed from the compound.

The 16-year-old girl called in saying that she had been abused and forced to marry a 50 year old man. The girl also said that in the compound – which included a medical facility, a cheese-making plant, a cement plant, a school, numerous large housing units, and a white limestone temple – some females as young as 14 and 15 were already mothers. The girl has not yet been identified.

The women leaving the compound were wearing home sewn, ankle-length dresses and were said to have been kept in isolation from the outside world.

A spokesperson affiliated with the Texas Department of Public Safety has said that so far, one person has been arrested for "interfering with the duties of a public servant." She also told reporters that "an unknown number of men remain on the compound and are not free to leave."

The children will be assigned attorneys and the case hearing will be held next week. Meanwhile, the children will be staying in temporary shelters, which officials say are filling up fast.

Police had been monitoring the compound ever since it was bought by the sect one year ago.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a polygamist sect led by Warren Jeffs – jailed last year for the rape and forced marriage of a 14 year old girl – is a breakaway branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which abandoned the practice of polygamy in 1890.


  Learn more about Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Warren Jeffs on Wikipedia.