April 10th, 2008
02:34 PM ET

Polygamy investigation: informant for 4 years, but no action?


Texas officials talk of an "excellent dialogue" they had developed with leaders of the polygamist compound in West Texas over the last four years.

We're finding out today that dialogue was apparently filled with lies and deception.

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran tells me he and his deputies had been to the ranch many times since construction began...but until the raid last weekend, never saw any teenage girls who appeared to be pregnant or have children.

The sheriff says he was aware of polygamy practices at the compound. And, he says he had a confidential informant who had provided information over the last several years.

But court documents show the informant was a FORMER member of the sect. And the sheriff told me the informant said nothing that could have given him the legal means to go in looking for sexually abused teeage girls. He was unclear about what exactly the informant had told him about whether there was abuse of underage girls.

A search warrant unsealed last night reveals what had been hidden from authorities for so long:

A practice in which adult males, "over the age of 17 engage in the practice of marrying multiple wives, at the initial time of marriage, the bride is often under the age of sixteen years; and that the temple...contains an area where there is a bed where males over the age of seventeen engage in sexual activity with female children..."

On April 5th, investigators found "a bed within the Temple that has disturbed bed linens and a strand of hair that appears to be from a female head."

Agents also discovered a document "indicating marriages between one man and over twenty wives..."

You wonder why this was so hard to see. Part of the answer might be geography. Access to the ranch is controlled. Another reason might be a culture of deception that taught members to conceal their activities.... until a single young girl cried out for help.

David Mattingly, 360 Correspondent

Filed under: David Mattingly • Polygamy
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. David

    If this operation had not been conducted under the banner of 'religion', how long would it have taken for such an extensive and open system of child sexual exploitation and abuse to be brought to an end?

    Instead of being labeled 'church', if this had been labeled something more on the order of MBLA (man/boy love association) - perhaps MLGLA (man/little girl love association), would it not have been stopped immediately?

    In my view, failure to act decisively in this matter is tantamount to collaboration.

    April 10, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  2. Gary Trosino

    Would you please address the issue of young males in this polygomy scandal & horrific child abuse.
    Are young males not being discarded or worse with the number of males to females?
    What do they endure?
    How are they treated?
    Where are they sent?
    Are they – in fact – killed? Some of them anyway – which I pray is not true.
    Thank you.

    April 10, 2008 at 9:20 pm |
  3. Suzanne P.


    Has the young girl that called been found yet? Is she one of the 400+ children that were taken off the compound? Her bravery in making that initial call is just amazing given what the children were taught all their lives.

    I hope the state can seize that ranch and get the welfare to the cult members that stay in the FLDS stopped. If the money dries up perhaps the cult will too.

    Suzanne P.
    Knoxville TN

    April 10, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  4. Dianne

    Why in 2008 is this allowed to continue..lots of these people are receiving welfare and defrauding the US..how can someone support over 20 children, for example, and the answer is you cannot unless the rest of America is doing it!! This abuse of the system and of these children must stop. I went to school with a former cult member and her revelations were appalling to say the least..utter mind control..is there not some way to stop this?

    April 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm |
  5. eugenia

    Once again we as a society decides who is protected.

    San Francisco, Ca

    April 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  6. Carrie

    People have the freedom and the constitutional right to practice any religon they choose. But, they dont have the freedom to sexually abuse young girls. Pedophelia is not a constitutional right. The adult women are long term victums of abuse and the adult men are PEDOPHILES .....PERIOD! A thirteen year old girl would never marry and have sex with 50 year old man of here own free will. Brain washing/abuse disables free will.

    April 10, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  7. Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA

    Part of the answer may also be that there were payoffs made for certain people to remain silent. This cult is bringing in a lot of taxpayer money as income. This should immediately be stopped.

    April 10, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Jamila. B


    April 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  9. Diane

    They had to know that a former member would not be honest about all the things that were occurring there! Why would they even believe them? Seems like they would have tried better ways to get info.

    Diane, Ga.

    April 10, 2008 at 3:02 pm |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.