CNN National Desk
The patriarch of the world's biggest polygamist sect's compound in Eldorado, Texas turned himself in after being indicted on felony charges. Fredrick Merril Jessop, 72, of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), is charged with one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor, which is a third-degree felony.
Jessop has been running the compound, called the Yearning for Zion Ranch, home to hundreds of church members. He was husband of Carolyn Jessop, who wrote in her best-selling book, "Escape" about their marriage and life in the FLDS, and her frightening escape from Merril Jessop and the compound with her children.
Carolyn Jessop and others have said girls as young 11 have been forced into polygamists marriages with older men, boys have been ejected from the sect on trumped up infractions, and children have been beaten.
Two other FLDS elders were also charged, and turned themselves in. Wendell Loy Nieslen, 68, is charged with three counts of third-degree felony bigamy. Leroy Johnson Steed, 42, is charged with one count of sexual assault of a child, one count of second-degree felony bigamy, one count of third-degree felony bigamy, and one count of tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony.
Also named in the indictments handed down by a Texas grand jury was the sect's "prophet" Warren Jeffs. He is charged with a first-degree felony count of aggravated sexual assault, of top of the July indictment that accused him of sexually assaulting a child. Jeffs is already in prison on a conviction on helping arrange the marriage of a minor.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said 12 people associated with the compound have now been indicted, and his investigation continues.
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