November 25, 2008 |
An elder of a polygamist sect and two other church members surrendered to authorities to face felony charges relating to the marriage of underage girls to older men. Frederick "Merril" Jessop, 72, a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who oversaw its Yearning for Zion Ranch in west Texas, faces one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor. One of his daughters was allegedly married at 12 to jailed sect leader Warren Jeffs and is now the only child from the ranch in foster care after her mother refused to cooperate with child welfare authorities.
August 18, 2008 |
More than two months after being forced to return children from a polygamist sect to their parents, Texas child welfare authorities want eight youngsters put back in foster care. Individual hearings for the four mothers of the children, ranging in age from 5 to 17, are set to begin today. Child Protective Services has asked Texas District Judge Barbara Walther to return the children to foster care because their mothers allegedly have not limited their contact with men accused of being involved in underage marriages.
September 5, 2008 |
Child by child, Texas authorities are acknowledging that many of the children seized during a raid on a polygamist sect's ranch can safely live with their parents or guardians. Since the April 3 raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, 235 children's custody cases have been dropped, meaning that fewer than half of the 440 children seized remain bound by a court order to stay in Texas, attend parenting classes or be available for unannounced visits by Child Protective Services.
June 5, 2008 |
The polygamist sect raided by authorities two months ago has its children back. But with a criminal investigation underway into allegations of sexual abuse, the splinter group's troubles are not over. Child-welfare officials have alleged that members of the sect pushed underage girls into marriages with older men. Although the last of 440 children seized from the sect's ranch were returned to their parents Wednesday, prosecutors could still bring criminal charges. "There have been criminal problems located out there," said Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran, who was with state troopers and child-welfare authorities April 3 when they raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch in western Texas.
November 6, 2009 |
The first polygamist sect member to face criminal trial after the raid at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in West Texas last year was convicted Thursday of sexual assault of a child. Jurors took a little more than two hours to convict Raymond Jessop, 38, of sexually assaulting a teenager with whom he had a so-called spiritual marriage. Jessop allegedly has nine wives. He faces a bigamy charge, but that case is to be tried later. The girl in the assault case, now 21, was previously in a "spiritual marriage" with Jessop's brother before being "reassigned" to Jessop when she was 15, according to documents seized at the ranch.
May 3, 2008 |
An arrest warrant has been dropped for a man whose purported 16-year-old wife triggered a raid on a polygamist sect's Eldorado compound, authorities said. A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman would not say why the warrant was dropped for Dale E. Barlow, 50, of Colorado City, Ariz., who has denied knowing her. The crisis-center caller reported that she was a 16-year-old member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who had been beaten and raped.