Bishop's Records Offer Rare Look Inside Polygamist Families

Staff Report
The Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - A bishop's records taken from a polygamist sect in West Texas are helping untangle the spider-web network of family relationships.

More than 460 children were removed last month from the Yearning For Zion ranch near Eldorado amid questions whether the youngsters were abused.

The children are now in foster care.

The Associated Press reports the bishop's records offer a peek into an intricate culture in which men related to the sect's prophet -- Warren Jeffs -- enjoyed favored-husband status.

An AP analysis shows that by the time a girl reached 16, she was more likely to be married than to live as a child in her father's household.

The bishop's records, released by court officials last week, include 37 families totaling 507 individuals.

At the time the lists were written from March through August of 2007, most of the people were living at the YFZ Ranch, though others were in homes along the Utah-Arizona line.

AP reports two-thirds of listed households were polygamous, with the brothers of Jeffs and a senior elder claiming the most wives, up to 21 in one case.

The husbands and wives were married in the sect. None is believed to hold Texas marriage licenses.