Grand jury on polygamist retreat finishes term

The Associated Press/December 16, 2008

Eldorado, Texas - A grand jury that had been hearing evidence since June in the cases against members of a polygamist sect met for the final time Tuesday without issuing any new indictments.

The panel's term expired with the final meeting. Prosecutors will have to impanel a new grand jury next year in this tiny West Texas ranching town to pursue any additional charges against members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Since July, the grand jury has indicted 12 men on chargesd ranging from failure to report child abuse to sexual assault of a child and bigamy. None of the cases have been scheduled for trial yet.

The cases stem from a massive raid of the FLDS' Yearning for Zion Ranch in April. Authorities confiscated hundreds of thousands of church documents, photos and letters, looking for evidence of underage girls forced into marriages and sex.

Under Texas law, those under 17 generally cannot consent to sex with an adult.

Bigamy, which includes even purporting to marry more than one person, is also illegal.

The FLDS 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.

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