April 23, 2008— -- A phone number used to allege abuse at a polygamist ranch in West Texas is associated with a woman in Colorado who has been accused of making several unrelated false abuse claims in calls to authorities, court documents say.
An arrest warrant affidavit unsealed today in Colorado Springs said 33-year-old Rozita Swinton had previously used a phone number that was used to call a crisis hotline in Texas.
The calls came before authorities raided the Yearning for Zion ranch, but it was not clear if authorities believe Swinton made the calls that prompted the raid, during which 437 children were taken into state custody.
Swinton has not been arrested for making calls to the Texas shelter. She was arrested last week on charges of making a false report in an unrelated case.
The affidavit details dozens of calls from late 2006 through April 2008 to abuse centers and police departments in Washington state, Colorado and Texas. The callers always identified themselves as a young girl, at various times calling herself Dana, April, "V," Jennifer and Sarah Barlow, the name of the alleged 16-year-old who called the Texas crisis center.
According to Texas court documents, authorities raided the polygamist compound after the Newbridge Shelter received several calls at the end of March from a person who identified herself as Sarah Barlow. The girl said she was being held against her will at the ranch and had been abused by her 49-year-old husband.
The Colorado court documents say that a phone number associated with Swinton, who has been named by Texas Rangers as a "person of interest" in their investigation, was "possibly related to the reporting party for the YFZ ranch incident."
That same phone number was used by a person calling herself "Dana," who called a safe house in Colorado, saying she had been sexually abused. Dana allegedly told the safe house counselor in February 2008 that she and "Rozita" were different personalities who lived in the same body, according to the affidavit.
Dana then told the counselor to call back on Rozita's number and gave Swinton's home phone number, the affidavit says.
Another number that was used to call the Texas abuse hotline has been linked to a man named Courtney Swinton, who lives in the same apartment building with Rozita Swinton, according to the affidavit.
That phone number was used to call the Newbridge Shelter 16 times between March 29 and April 5. It was also used to call a battered women's shelter in Washington 28 times.
During some of those calls to the Washington shelter, the caller claimed to be 16-year-old Sarah Barlow and said she was being held at the YFZ ranch. The caller said she had gotten married at age 14 to Dale Barlow, the same man identified by the Sarah Barlow who called the Texas shelter, as her husband.
She also said she feared her "sister wives" at the ranch would take her baby away if she revealed her real identity, the affidavit says.
The rangers participated in Swinton's arrest last week on misdemeanor charges of making a false report to local police in Colorado Springs. Swinton was arrested for a February incident during which she allegedly pretended to be a girl locked in a basement, claiming abuse and calling for help, according to the Colorado Springs police.
Texas child welfare agents say they have discovered evidence of child abuse at the YFZ ranch and claim that underage girls living there are encouraged to marry older men and have children.
Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the group that lives on the ranch, deny the allegations.
Authorities have begun placing the children into temporary foster homes, while they await individual status hearings.