23 Jul 2008

U.S. polygamist sect leader charged with child sex assault

Canada.com AFP - July 22, 2008

ELDORADO, Texas - The jailed leader of a polygamist sect and five other men linked to a Texas compound raided earlier this year have been indicted on child sexual assault and other charges, officials said Tuesday.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he hopes to extradite sect leader Warren Jeffs, who was convicted last year of being an accomplice to rape and is currently in an Arizona jail.

Abbott did not release the names of the five other men charged but said there "will be an aggressive attempt to apprehend them."

"The indictments issues today are part of an ongoing and continuing criminal investigation," Abbott said, adding that few other details could be released.

More than 400 children were seized from the Yearning For Zion ranch in April amid allegations of widespread sexual and physical abuse.

Officials said girls were being "groomed" to accept sex with their middle-aged "spiritual husbands" as soon as they hit puberty and boys were being indoctrinated to perpetuate the cycle of abuse.

They were returned to their parents two months later after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that state child welfare officials had overstepped their authority when they took the 468 children and did not prove the children were in immediate danger.

Jeffs was indicted on charges of felony assault of a child. Four other men were charged with "sexually assaulting young girls under the age of 17," Abbot said, adding that one of those men was also charged with bigamy.

A sixth man was charged with three counts of failing to report child abuse.

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