Sect leader Warren Jeffs charged with child sex assault, 5 others Charged
Sect leader Warren Jeffs charged with child sex assault, 5 others Charge
Jeffs was charged with sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony, Abbot said.
Four of Jeffs' followers were each charged with one count of sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 17, and one of those four faces a count of bigamy. A fifth follower is charged with three counts of failure to report child abuse, Abbot said.
The five followers were not identified. Rporters reported that the followers are not in custody but that authorities are searching for them to make arrests.
The 52-year-old Jeffs is the leader and "prophet" of the estimated 10,000-member Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an offshoot of the mainstream Mormon church.
The FLDS openly practices polygamy at its Yearning for Zion Ranch outside Eldorado, Texas, and in two towns straddling the Utah-Arizona state line: Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.
Texas authorities raided the ranch in April, seizing more than 400 children who were later returned to their families after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had no right to remove the children and lacked evidence to show that they faced imminent danger of abuse.In May, DNA samples were taken from Jeffs as part of a criminal investigation into allegations that he "spiritually" married four girls ranging in age from 12 to 15, authorities said. A search warrant seeking the DNA samples said marital records -- known as bishop's records -- from the ranch show that Jeffs married a 14-year-old girl on January 18, 2004, in Utah.
The records showed that Jeffs "married" three other underage brides -- two 12-year-olds and a 14-year-old -- at the YFZ Ranch, according to the search warrant. One of the 12-year-olds, believed to have married Jeffs on July 27, 2006, was sexually assaulted by Jeffs later that day, the search warrant said.
The warrant made reference to pictures of Jeffs with his alleged underage brides. In one photograph, the warrant states, he is kissing one of the 12-year-olds. In another, he is shown with a 15-year-old wife at the birth of their child in October 2004.
Authorities had said the DNA samples would determine whether he is the father of the children born to underage mothers.
In November, Jeffs was sentenced to two consecutive terms