The exodus of many polygamists from Utah and Arizona into Nevada - combined with reports of abused children and the arrest of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs - has prompted Nevada Attorney General George Chanos to designate a special investigator to look into possible child-abuse allegations.
The investigator's name was not released after the appointment this week.
Nicole Moon, the attorney general's public information officer, said the investigator would scrutinize the Fundamentalist LDS Church, which Jeffs heads.
"We're focusing on underage brides and violations of child-labor laws, and we have assigned one of our investigators to look into the issue," she said. "We understand there may be a group acting in southern Nevada" associated with the FLDS Church. "We're asking the public to come forward with any information about minors."
Chanos said he is not picking on the FLDS Church or singling out any religious group, but he is concerned about violations of the law, especially when there are child victims.
"It does involve the safety of the children of Nevada, and that is one of George Chanos' top issues," Moon said. "If there is any group that is breaking the law, we would go after them if we had viable evidence a crime was committed."
Information has been surfacing about members of the FLDS Church establishing homes and businesses in Nevada, arranged marriages of minor girls to older men, and the use of underage youths in dangerous occupations.
Moon credits media reports with bringing many of these concerns to the public's attention. The arrest of Warren Jeffs also "has put a bigger spotlight on it," she said.