A House of Yahweh member accused of molesting teen

Associated Press/October 19, 2007

Abilene, Texas — A member of the House of Yahweh religious sect is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl he was preparing to marry.

Yedidiyah Hawkins, 40, remained jailed on $500,000 bail after his arrest on a child sexual assault charge.

Callahan County's investigation began with an anonymous report to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services by former members of the Yahweh sect.

Both sources had been told by current members of the House of Yahweh that Hawkins had molested the girl, whom he had begun preparing to marry, according to documents filed in the case.

Child Protective Services then interviewed the teen, who said she has been molested since she was 8, most recently by Hawkins in his bedroom earlier this month, the affidavit said.

When Hawkins came to pick up the girl after she spoke to officials in Abilene on Tuesday afternoon, he was arrested, police said.

The phone number listed on the House of Yahweh's Web site rang unanswered on Friday.

The House of Yahweh is an Old Testament-based religious group with headquarters and a compound of about 50 acres in Callahan County. Bill Hawkins, a former Abilene police officer who left the department in 1977, founded the sect in 1980.

Hawkins later changed his name to Yisrayl Hawkins, and many members of the House of Yahweh have changed their last name to Hawkins and adopted an unusual spelling of their first name.

The sect has had run-ins with the law several times. Last year Abilene police investigated the death of a 1-month-old boy whose death and burial had not been reported to authorities. An autopsy later indicated that the child died of malnourishment and traumatic asphyxiation. No charges have been filed in the boy's death.

Also last year, a sect member pleaded guilty to injury to a child by criminal negligence and was sentenced to five years' probation for performing surgery on her 7-year-old daughter who later died.

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