Sect leader suspected of marrying underage Eldorado ranch girls

DNA samples taken to determine whether Jeffs had sex with four girls, two of whom were 12, court filings revealed today.

American-Statesman/May 30, 2008

DNA samples have been taken from convicted polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs as part of a widening Texas investigation into whether he married and had sex with at least four underage girls from a sect ranch near Eldorado, including two who were 12, court filings revealed today.

A search warrant affidavit filed in Mohave County, Ariz., shows that Jeffs' DNA was collected on two mouth swabs at a Kingman, Ariz., jail where he remains after being convicted on sexual assault charges involving other young girls who were part of Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The court filings provide new details of the case, for the first time naming Jeffs, 52, as a suspect on Texas charges. The Texas case began with an April raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Officials seized more than 400 children during the raid, after a caller reported abuse allegations.

The affidavit also reveals that Jeffs, the sect's so-called prophet, is under investigation in the Texas case in connection with sexual assault of a child, aggravated sexual assault, bigamy and prohibited sexual assault. All are felonies.

In one case, according to the affidavit, sect records that Texas investigators seized show that Jeffs "married" a 14-year-old girl in January 2004 in Utah.

In October 2005, when she was 16, the girl "gave birth to a child that is believed to be fathered by Warren Jeffs," according to the affidavit, which says wedding photos have been seized as evidence. At some point, the girl moved to the Eldorado ranch.

The affidavit also claims that Jeffs married and sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl at the ranch on or about July 27, 2006.

The affidavit says that one photograph seized as evidence in the raid depicts Jeffs and the girl standing arm-in-arm and that a second photo shows the two "embraced in a kiss."

Jeffs married another 12-year-old girl at the ranch on April 16, 2005, and a 14-year-old girl on July 22, 2004, according to the court filing.

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