Women, kids taken from sect in Texas

SAN ANTONIO, Texas authorities raided a ranch belonging to a breakaway Mormon sect, removing almost 200 women and children since Thursday. Police began the raids after reports that a 16-year-old girl was physically and sexually abused.

Detectives seek evidence of a marriage between the girl and a 50-year-old man. She is thought to have had a child when she was 15, BBC News online reported Monday.

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs was jailed as an accomplice to rape. Under Texas law, girls younger than 16 cannot marry, even with parental approval.

Texas Child Protective Services removed 137 children and 46 women, who are being questioned. Spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said they were doing fine and officials remained at the ranch looking for more children.

It was not clear whether the girl was still at the compound or was among those removed and had not been identified. Officials were also authorized to remove computer hard drives, CDs, DVDs and photos.

Meisner was unable to say whether the women and children left voluntarily. Local news reports said shelters had been set up for them.

The authorities said none of the women and girls picked up in initial raids would be returning to the ranch. Eighteen of them were at risk of further abuse and would remain in state custody, they said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International.

This news arrived on: 04/09/2008…www.arcamax.com


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