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Texas seizes ranch of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs

The Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas, where polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting children, has been seized by the state. There were only eight adults still living there, and they are in the process of moving out, according to a Friday report on Warren Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of sexual acts with two young girls, and Texas law permits property used in crimes to be seized. The state also claimed the land was financed at $1.1 million in 2003 through money laundering.

Warren Jeffs is serving life in prison.
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

At one time, the 1600-acre compound was the home of hundreds of Jeffs’ followers which actually number as many as 10,000. The church is headquartered on the Arizona-Utah border. When the original raid took place in 2008 that resulted from a phone call to a violence hotline, there were 416 children removed. 130 women left on their own accord, according to The authorities are working with the remaining residents to facilitate their move, but there have been no indications where they will go.

The children of the Yearning for Zion ranch were originally returned when the Texas Supreme court ruled that they were not really in any imminent danger and that the state had no right to hold them. However, the child services authorities determined that there was definitely a pattern of the sexual abuse of young girls who were forced to marry older men. There was actual DNA proof and tape recordings that led to an ironclad conviction in regard to Jeffs’ sexual abuse of two young girls.

Television viewers became accustomed to seeing camera shots of the ranch with its looming temple during the news coverage of the child sexual abuse charges. The unusual clothing and hair styles worn by the women and girls were particularly striking, described by many as a “prairie style” of dress. It is interesting to note that in photographs from Jeffs’ court appearances, he was dressed in what appears to be quite stylish and modern men’s attire.

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