26 Aug 2008

More bigamy charges in Texas polygamist sect case

Dallas Morning News - August 25, 2008

Associated Press

ELDORADO, Texas — Two of the new indictments issued by a grand jury against members of a polygamist sect added bigamy charges against men already accused of sexual assault of a child.

The indictments, issued by a Schleicher County grand jury Thursday, accuse Michael George Emack, 57, and Raymond Merrill Jessop, 36, of bigamy. Both were served on Friday.

A spokesman for the sect didn't immediately return calls seeking comment Monday.

The clerk's office has not released the name or charge on a third indictment issued Thursday because it has not yet been served.

The indictments against Emack and Jessop include few details of the accusations, but church records released as part of a separate custody case show Jessop, who was already married, was married to the daughter of jailed sect leader Warren Jeffs the day after she turned 15.

Under Texas law, someone younger than 17 cannot generally consent to sex with an adult. The crime of bigamy includes legal marriages and the lower standard of purporting to marry.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes polygamy brings glorification in heaven, but its plural marriages were generally only church-sanctioned, not legal. The church is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Authorities raided a ranch here run by the FLDS in April, looking for evidence of underage girls forced into marriages and sex.

In addition to Emack and Jessop, Jeffs and two other men were charged in July with sexual assault of a child for allegedly engaging in underage marriages with sect girls.

Another member was charged with failing to report child abuse.

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