Texas wants to seize Warren Jeffs' polygamist ranch


Polygamists from Colorado City, Arizona, gather Nov. 14, 2008 in St. George, Utah to protest the sale of land from the FLDS Trust by the state of Utah. FLDS head Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for sexually assaulting two girls.


George Frey

The Texas attorney general made a motion to seize the Eldorado ranch used by convicted sex offender and polygamist Warren Jeffs, reports AP. 

The 1,600 acre Yearning for Zion Ranch is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a polygamist Mormon sect. 

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot has filed a 91-page request asking a court to begin forfeiture proceedings against the ranch, saying church members bought the property "in a failed attempt to establish a remote outpost where they could insulate themselves from criminal prosecution for sexually assaulting children," reports the Salt Lake City Tribune. 

Texas law allows authorities to seize property that was used to commit or facilitate certain criminal conduct.

It is unknown how many FLDS members currently live on the ranch but Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the filing does not mean residents must leave immediately. 

The seizure represents the final chapter in Texas' five-year battle against the FLDS church and its members. Texas successfully prosecuted Jeffs and nine other FLDS members for sexual abuse of minors. 

Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of assaulting two of his under aged 'spiritual wives'. AP reports that prosecutors used DNA evidence to show he fathered a child with one of his 15-year-old wives. 

Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.

In 2008, Texas Child Protective Services removed about 460 children from the YFZ ranch, saying they were at risk of harm from “a pervasive pattern of sexual abuse” of underage girls, reports the Dallas Morning News.

The removal was short lived, however, after a three-judge panel in Austin ordered most of the children to be returned to their families. The judges said the state failed to show the children were in physical jeopardy and needed to be removed from their families.