A raid by Texas police on a compound owned by a fanatic polygamous sect revealed an environment rife with sexual abuse. More than 400 children were removed during the raid last week, and more than 100 women left voluntarily with police. The Washington Post reports that the leaders of the sect had told authorities that only 200 or 300 people were living on the compound. After the raid, all of the children were removed and most of the women left, so only between 50 and 60 men and older women remain on the compound.
Authorities ordered the raid on the 1,700 acre compound after receiving a call from a 16-year-old girl who said her 50-year-old “husband” was abusing her, reports the Associated Press. The girl still has not been found by police.
National Public Radio (NPR) reports that the affidavit signed by investigators with the Department of Family and Protective Services said, “Investigators determined that there is a widespread pattern and practice of the (Yearn for Zion) Ranch in which young, minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men at the ranch upon being spiritually married to them.”
Beds, where authorities suspect men had sex with under-age girls, were found inside the huge temple in the center of the compound, according to the New York Times. The women and children inside the compound were kept isolated from direct contact with anyone not part of the fanatic sect.
This is not the first raid on compounds run by extremist polygamous sects, according to NPR, but it is the largest in scope. Opponents of the raid claim that the children should not be separated from their families, despite the overwhelming evidence that sexual abuse is allowed and even encouraged by the extremist leaders of the sect.