Jeffs' Alleged Child Bride Taken from Mom

United Press International
August 19, 2008

SAN ANGELO, Texas (UPI) — A teenage girl who was allegedly married to polygamist leader Warren Jeffs at 12 must return to state custody, a Texas judge ruled Tuesday.

The girl, now 14, is the daughter of Merril Jessop, head of the Yearning for Zion Ranch, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. She and an 11-year-old brother had been living in San Antonio with their mother, Barbara Jessop, instead of returning to the ranch.

Judge Barbara Walther allowed the boy to remain with his mother, although she set additional restrictions. But she found that Barbara Jessop cannot guarantee her daughter's safety.

At a hearing, lawyers for the state submitted a photograph of the girl and Jeffs kissing and said the snapshot was taken when they were married in 2006. Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, a breakaway Mormon group that holds to its original teachings on polygamy.

Gonzalo Rios, a lawyer for Barbara Jessop, said that his client had been treated unfairly. He said she was the only mother at the ranch not offered a plan that would allow her children to remain with her safely.


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