Polygamy Kids May End Up in Foster Care

Police and prosecutors in Utah and Arizona have investigated members of the fundamentalist splinter group, which is thought to have as many as 40,000 members nationwide.

Court records indicate that despite being isolated from what they called the "outsiders' world," members of the Yearning for Zion Ranch owned dozens of laptops, cell phones and thumb drives, which authorities confiscated.

One item was "correspondence with Warren Jeffs," the sect's leader. He was convicted in September of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl in Utah.

At times it appeared as if the police had simply cleaned out the closets at the compound, taking away men's ties, shoes and belts; about 80 sets of white suits or white women's clothing; and "clothing belonging to Grandmother Ruth Jeffs."

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety acknowledged to ABC News that law enforcement officials were intentionally vague in their descriptions of the many items seized from the compound and said authorities do not have any immediate plans to release more specific information on the property taken this week from the ranch.

"Right now [officials] don't want to be more open with what they have than they have been,'' spokeswoman Tela Mange said. "It's an ongoing investigation…and [officials] don't want to try this case in the media."

Asked what exactly a "cyanide poisoning document' is or could be, Mange said "I have no idea."

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said Thursday that an informant, who is a former member of the group, had been feeding him information for the past four years.

Doran said that he was aware that the Yearning for Zion Ranch had similar compounds in Utah and Arizona where the group's men had been prosecuted for having sex with underage girls.

"We were suspicious" that a similar problem existed on the remote ranch in the Texas town of Eldorado, he said.

But, he said, the informant did not tell him of allegations that underage girls were forced to have sex with older men until earlier this month.

"We are aware that this group is capable of [sexually abusing young girls]," Doran said. "But there again, this is the United States. We are going to respect them. We're not going to violate their civil rights until we get an outcry. I've said that from day one."

A court affidavit unsealed Wednesday said Doran's informant had provided him with details about life at the ranch "on more than 20 occasions" but did not tell him until Saturday that the males of the ranch "engage in the practice of marrying multiple wives; at the initial time of the marriage the bride is often under the age of 16 years."

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has written about polygamy, said that if a source within the compound told police that older men regularly had sex with underage girls, investigators probably would have had probable cause to search the compound even without the complaint from the 16 year old.

"There is an obvious question as to whether the police had information before April or why the police did not try to establish those facts over the long course of their apparent relationship with this informant," he said.

Court documents unsealed earlier this week spilled even more of the group's secrets, including the alleged presence of beds in the sect's temple so men could allegedly have sex with their child brides.

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