San Angelo Judge Issues Gag Order After Raid in Eldorado

Staff Report
NewsWest 9

ELDORADO, TEXAS - The latest out of Eldorado, no more information, a judge in San Angelo has issued a gag order.

Law enforcement officials remain in Eldorado after raiding the compound of convicted Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs on Friday.

Officers from Midland, the Texas Rangers, and Child Protective Services descended on the compound Friday morning after allegations of abuse surfaced.

They later stormed the facility just before noon.

52 girls were removed and 18 are in CPS custody.

Child Protective Services says the girls, range in age from infants to 17 years old.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter told NewsWest 9 he received reports that some of the girls who were removed from the compound are pregnant.

A judge so far has given the State custody to about one-third of the girls.   

The investigation began with a call, alleging physical abuse of a 16-year-old girl at the site.

And a San Angelo Newspaper reports, warrants were issued for records on the 16-year-old's children, and any records listing a marriage between 50-year-old Dale Barlow and the girl.

ELDORADO, Texas - Law Enforcement officials are inside the YFZ ranch which is a polygamist compound near Eldorado and are conducting an extensive investigation. They gained entry this morning with an armored personnel carrier from the Midland County Sheriff's Office.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says Child Protective Services caseworkers went to the ranch near Eldorado last night. DPS spokesman Tom Vinger says CPS was responding to a complaint, but he couldn't say whether the complaint came from inside or outside the

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter tells NewsWest9 that they are helping investigate the sexual assaults of young girls and are looking for one 16-year-old girl in particular.

At first, members of the religious sect said that girl was not on the ranch. Sect leaders then said they would produce the girl when officials threatened to use the armored personnel carrier to gain entry to the compound's temple.

Right now officials are searching as many as 35 buildings on the sprawling 1700 acre property. A district judge is on the scene and has ordered everyone under 16 be produced to authorities.

No one has been taken into custody and that the operation has been peaceful.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is led by reclusive prophet Warren Jeffs. It's one of several groups that split from the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints in the decades after the Mormons renounced polygamy in 1890.

Jeffs was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of five years to life in prison in Utah. That was after he was found guilty of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl who wed her cousin in an arranged marriage in 2001.

In Arizona, Jeffs is charged as an accomplice with four counts each of incest and sexual conduct with a minor stemming from two arranged marriages between teenage girls and older male relatives.

He's jailed in Kingman, Arizona, awaiting trial.

The Associated Press contributed this report.