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Monday, April 07, 2008

Now 400 Children In Custody from Polygamist Compound- Updated, Second Person Arrested

4/18/08 Update- Judge Orders FLDS Children To Stay in Texas State Custody.

[Update] A second arrest has been made. Leroy Johnson Steed was arrested Monday night and charged with tampering with physical evidence.

It started last Thursday when authorities obtained a search warrant after receiving a complaint from a young girl that claimed she was being abused and had an eight month old child from an older man.

Authorities believe the girl, who has an 8-month-old daughter, was 15 when she was married. A 2005 change in state law, prompted by concern about the sect, raised the state legal age for a girl to marry from 14 to 16.

On our first report, 52 children had been removed from Yearn for Zion Ranch outside Eldorado, Texas, which is a polygamist compound that used to be run by Warren Jeff, now in jail for rape-related charges for marrying off a 14-year-old girl, in November and was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of five years to life in prison in Utah.

That first report was quickly updated as the number of people removed from that compound grew.

The came the news that there was a tense standoff at the compound as the they people who live there stopped cooperating with authorities.

The standoff ended peacefully and police and children welfare workers continued to remove children and some mothers left to be with their children who are now in the state's custody.

Reports from today show there are now 401 children being cared for by the state after having been removed from the polygamist compound.

The girl that called in the original complaint has still not been located and neither has her child.

Allison Palmer, first assistant district attorney for the 51st judicial district, which includes Schleicher County, where the complex is located says, "Certainly, I have a concern for her health and well-being, certainly a concern for her safety."

Temporary custody was awarded by a state district judge, Meisner said. Each child will be appointed a guardian ad litem and an attorney ad litem to represent their interests, she said.

In addition, 133 women have voluntarily joined the children, who are being held at an historic site, Fort Concho, that includes facilities for lodging.

The authorities are not done searching the compound so the number of children removed will probably still rise.

The report goes on to say, one man, as of now, has been arrested for not cooperating with the authorities. No other details on that arrest are available at this time.

According to Marleigh Meisner, spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, this is the largest endeavor that her organization has ever had to deal with in the state of Texas.