Police continue to interview residents of a compound, and 416 children are now in the custody of Texas Child Protective Services, after a 16-year-old girl called police last weekend to report physical and sexual abuse within a polygamist sect in West Texas.
"Investigators determined that there is a widespread pattern and practice of the Ranch in which young, minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men at the ranch upon being spiritually married to them," the affidavit signed by Lynn McFadden, a Department of Family and Protective Services investigative supervisor, read, according to the Associated Press.
It is illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to marry in Texas. Girls in the sect were forced to marry older men when they reached puberty, and the boys learned that they were expected to marry and engage in sex with underage girls upon adulthood, reported the AP. The AP reported that a number of the teenage girls at the ranch were pregnant.
Police had determined that the children should be removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ YFZ Ranch because of concerns for their safety. YFZ stands for Yearning for Zion.
The AP also said almost 140 women left the ranch during this time. Police also issued a warrant for Dale Barlow, the man they believe married and abused the 16-year-old who called the police. The girl said she wanted to escape, but that she was told she would be forced to have sex with many men and that she would have to wear makeup and cut her hair if she left, reported the AP.
CNN reported the church bought the 1,700 acres for the YFZ ranch four years ago and openly practice polygamy within its town made up of a large temple, a water tower, dairy and cheese factory, concrete mill, school and community center, and apartments for its 400 members.
416 Children Removed from Compound, Arrest Warrant Issued - ToTheCenter