219 children, women taken from sect's ranch - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

219 children, women taken from sect's ranch

ELDORADO, Texas (CNN) -- More than 200 women and children have been removed from a Texas ranch that's home to members of a polygamist sect, but authorities have not identified the girl who called them with allegations of abuse.

The 16-year-old girl, who called authorities last week with allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the compound, may be in the group and using a different name, Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for Texas Child Protective Services, said at a news conference Sunday.

"I am confident that this girl does indeed exist," Meisner said. "I am confident that the allegations that she brought forth are accurate."

Since Thursday, authorities have removed 159 children and 60 adults from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound in Eldorado, Texas.

Eighteen of the girls have been taken into state custody. Authorities believe all "had been abused or were at immediate risk of future abuse," a state spokesman said.

The others are now housed at a shelter in San Angelo -- about 45 miles north of Eldorado -- where they are being questioned about abuse, Meisner said.

"It's certainly emotional for the children, but they are with caretakers -- people that they're accustomed to being with -- at the time," Meisner said. Many of the adults at the shelter are parents or relatives of the children, she said.

Warren Jeffs, the 52-year-old leader and "prophet" of the 10,000-member FLDS, was convicted in Utah last year on two counts of being an accomplice to rape, charges related to a marriage he performed in 2001. He still faces trial in Arizona on eight charges of sexual conduct with a minor, incest and conspiracy.

Critics of the sect say it forces girls as young as 13 into arranged marriages.

Meisner said the adults cooperated with child protection officials as authorities continued their search for more children.

An arrest warrant was served last week for Dale Evans Barlow, 50, who authorities believe fathered a child with a 16-year-old girl he had married. As of Saturday night, Barlow had not been found, and child welfare workers could not confirm whether the girl or her child had been found.

The rogue church bought 1,900 acres near Eldorado four years ago and built what it calls the YFZ Ranch. It is now home to as many as 400 members who moved from compounds in Arizona and Utah.

YFZ is a reference to a song written by Jeffs, "Yearning For Zion."

Previous visits by CNN revealed the ranch was guarded by armed men equipped with night-vision gear and other high-tech surveillance tools to prevent intruders.

© 2008 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Divided Supreme Court sides with businesses over workers

    Divided Supreme Court sides with businesses over workers

    Monday, May 21 2018 10:21 AM EDT2018-05-21 14:21:59 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 8:43 PM EDT2018-05-22 00:43:41 GMT
    The justices ruled 5-4 Monday, with the court's conservative members in the majority, that businesses can force employees to individually use arbitration to resolve disputes. (Source: Supremecourt.gov)The justices ruled 5-4 Monday, with the court's conservative members in the majority, that businesses can force employees to individually use arbitration to resolve disputes. (Source: Supremecourt.gov)

    A new Supreme Court will allow employers to prohibit workers from banding together to complain about pay and conditions in the workplace.

    A new Supreme Court will allow employers to prohibit workers from banding together to complain about pay and conditions in the workplace.

  • FBI, Justice to 'review' classified info sought by lawmakers

    FBI, Justice to 'review' classified info sought by lawmakers

    Monday, May 21 2018 12:51 AM EDT2018-05-21 04:51:49 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 8:32 PM EDT2018-05-22 00:32:59 GMT
    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File). FILE - In this Thursday, May 17, 2018, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington. Trump said he will "demand" that the Justice Department open ...(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File). FILE - In this Thursday, May 17, 2018, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington. Trump said he will "demand" that the Justice Department open ...

    Trump's demand puts further pressure on the Justice Department, which later Sunday asked its watchdog to expand an existing probe of FBI actions, as the White House combats the threat posed by special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation.

    Trump's demand puts further pressure on the Justice Department, which later Sunday asked its watchdog to expand an existing probe of FBI actions, as the White House combats the threat posed by special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation.

  • School shooting may not bring change to gun-loving Texas

    School shooting may not bring change to gun-loving Texas

    Monday, May 21 2018 12:52 AM EDT2018-05-21 04:52:04 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 8:24 PM EDT2018-05-22 00:24:23 GMT
    (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP). A billboard is seen off of I-45 near Santa Fe, Texas, where a student shot and killed eight classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School.(Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP). A billboard is seen off of I-45 near Santa Fe, Texas, where a student shot and killed eight classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School.

    The shooting suspect, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been jailed on capital murder charges.

    The shooting suspect, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been jailed on capital murder charges.

Powered by Frankly