Cops Talk to Suspect in Polygamist Probe, Don't Arrest Him

The man at the center of the raid on a Texas polygamists compound was questioned today by Texas Rangers and denied that he had abused the 16-year-old girl whose call for help prompted the raid, his lawyer told ABC News.

Dale Barlow, 50, who lives in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in Colorado City, Ariz., met with Texas Rangers today but was not arrested.

His lawyer, Bruce Griffen, told ABC News that Barlow was not the person Texas authorities were looking for and that Barlow has an alibi. Barlow declined to be interviewed and ran into his house when approached by ABC News reporters.

Authorities in Eldorado, Texas, raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch on April 3 after a 16-year-old girl there called a family violence shelter and said that she had been physically and sexually abused by her husband from a "spiritual marriage" -- the term used by members of the sect to refer to their polygamous marriages.

The girl, who authorities have still not identified and have not located, said her husband was named Dale Barlow and gave Barlow's approximate age, according to court records. Dale Barlow is a common name among members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Griffen said Barlow had not been to Texas since 1977.

"You've got the wrong guy," he said.

Barlow was briefly jailed in Arizona last year, sentenced to three years probation and forced to register as a sex offender after he was convicted of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, according to Mohave County, Ariz., Probation Department Chief Friend Walker.

Walker told ABC News that Barlow has been checking in regularly with his probation officer and last met with Walker on April 8.

Walker said that Barlow claims to have spoken to Schleicher County, Texas, Sheriff David Doran, who instigated the raid, on the phone on April 3.

Texas authorities issued a warrant for Barlow's arrest last week. During their raid of the compound, they took more than 400 children into custody and seized hundreds of documents and computers.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement, "We are still conducting our investigation and are aware of where [Barlow] is. We have not made any arrests today, and may not for several days."

Lawyers for the sect are expected to challenge both the search of the compound and the seizure of the children at a court hearing next week. If a judge decides the children, who were taken into custody because authorities believe they may be at risk of abuse, should remain in state custody, they will probably be placed in foster homes.

Authorities are still looking for the 16-year-old girl who made the cry for help from the compound, and some experts say the legal basis for the Texas officials' raid may not hold up in court if they cannot locate the accuser.

"That 16-year-old is the linchpin for probable cause. She is the reason they said they had cause to go in and do this search. If that is not present, if they can't establish probable cause, then everything they gathered in the search will likely be suppressed," said legal analyst Jonathan Turley today on "Good Morning America Weekend."

He added, "They will not be able to bring criminal charges. They can even be sued for that search."

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