Warren Jeffs' ranch may be seized by Texas

A judge will determine whether the state can take control of the 1,600-acre property owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Donna McWilliam/AP/File
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound is shown under construction near Eldorado, Texas, in 2005. Texas wants to take ownership of the polygamist ranch where the convicted sect leader Warren Jeffs and his followers sexually assaulted children.

Texas wants to take ownership of Warren Jeffs' polygamist ranch where the convicted sect leader and his followers sexually assaulted children, state prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Texas attorney general's office filed a seizure warrant on Wednesday. A judge will determine whether the state can take control of the 1,600-acre (650-hectare) property owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the court filings do not mean FLDS members still living at the Yearning for Zion Ranch must immediately leave.

He said the warrant instead begins the final chapter in the state's five-year prosecution against sect's indicted leaders and followers.

"This is simply the next step," Strickland said.

Strickland said it was too early to speculate what the state would do with the property if given ownership.

It's unknown how many families are still living at the ranch in Eldorado, located about 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of San Antonio.

Jeffs was convicted last year of sexually assaulting two of his underage brides. Prosecutors used DNA evidence to show he fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl prosecutors say he took as one of his spiritual wives. Jeffs is serving life in prison in Texas but has continued to try and continue to lead his church while serving his sentence.

Earlier this year, a new 100-foot (330-feet) concrete tower at a ranch was torn down by FLDS members.

In the four years since Texas authorities swarmed the ranch, state prosecutors have spent more than $4.5 million racking up swift convictions against him and 10 loyal followers on child sex and bigamy charges, according to state records.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.