3 FLDS members surrender, then post bail, in sex case

Houston Chronicle/September 29, 2008

Austin - Three men from a West Texas polygamous group surrendered to authorities Monday after being charged last week with sexually abusing young girls.

Lehi Barlow Jeffs, also known as Lehi Barlow Allred, 29; Keith William Dutson, 23; and Abram Harker Jeffs, 37, were each released from the Schleicher County jail after posting bonds of at least $100,000 each, Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said.

The three are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Lehi Jeffs and Abram Jeffs face additional bigamy charges.

"It was uneventful. They turned themselves in at around 11 o'clock, (paid their bail money) and were out in an hour," Doran said.

Five other men from the polygamous group, including FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, face similar felony sex abuse charges in Schleicher County, related to purported unions with underage girls.

Warren Jeffs was convicted in Utah of sexual abuse, received up to life in prison and now sits in an Arizona jail, awaiting trial there in connection with underage marriages.

Authorities say the polygamist group, which bought a 1,700-acre ranch on the outskirts of Eldorado in 2003, forced teenage girls to "spiritually marry" older men and kept detailed records of the unions.

Attorneys for the group say the charges are baseless, concocted by the state to destroy an unorthodox religious movement.

According to "bishop records" released by the state in May in connection with a custody battle, the three suspects wed underage girls.

Lehi Jeffs was listed in the document, dated March 2007, as having three wives, including one who was 16. Dutson was listed as being in a monogamous union with a 16-year-old. Abram Jeffs was listed as having five wives, including one who was 16.

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