|8 More Indictments Issued in FLDS Polygamist Case
By Terri Langford
November 12, 2008
A grand jury in West Texas handed down eight more indictments Wednesday in the criminal investigation into abuse allegations involving members of a polygamist sect.
Jailed sect leader Warren Jeffs and three other members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were charged with eight different felonies, including aggravated sexual assault, bigamy and tampering with physical evidence, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
FLDS members have been under investigation since April, when Texas Child Protective Services removed more than 400 children from the group's Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, south of San Angelo.
The grand jury action follows similar indictments earlier this year. So far, 12 people have been indicted for their role in the marriages of underage girls.
Last April, CPS caseworkers removed the children because they found evidence underage girls were being groomed for marriage to adult FLDS members. The children were eventually returned to their parents, and all but a few dozen remain under court supervision.
Other names withheld
However, Abbott and his investigators have been pursuing criminal charges.
In Wednesday's indictments, one person was indicted in conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor, another was indicted on three counts of third-degree bigamy. A third person was indicted on four felony charges: first-degree bigamy, second-degree bigamy, third-degree bigamy, and tampering with physical evidence.
Neither the gender nor the name of the three were released.
However, Abbott's office named the fourth defendant as Jeffs. He was indicted Wednesday on a first-degree felony count of aggravated sexual assault. This count is in addition to his July 2008 indictment for sexually assaulting a child.
A FLDS spokesman could not be reached for comment.
"I want to thank the Texas Rangers ... and the criminal investigators with the Office of the Attorney General, for their outstanding work," Abbott said. "I also want to thank Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran for his assistance."
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