Jailed FLDS member appeals conviction

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A jailed member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is asking an appeals court to overturn his conviction.

The Associated Press says Michael Emack

last year pleaded no contest to charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. A church spokesman said at the time that Emack didn’t believe he would get a fair trial locally, so he made the plea with the intent of later appealing his case.

He received a seven-year sentence in January, 2010. In April that year Emack was given a second seven-year sentence, to be served concurrently, after he pleaded no contest to a charge of bigamy. Prosecutors had demonstrated that esides his legal wife, Emack had three “spiritual” or “celestial” wives — including the 16-year-old girl.

Emack is challenging the search warrant that led to Texas authorities to take more than 400 children from the religious cult’s Yearning for Zion Ranch into protective custody.

Authorities had raided the sect’s compound after receiving a phone call alleging abuse. That phone call was later deemed to be a hoax.

A Texas appeals court later ruled that state child-protection officials lacked the evidence to seize children from the compound.

The children were eventually returned to their parents, but 12 members of the sect were indicted based on evidence seized during the raid. Thus far seven of the men have been prosecuted.

Among those charged is FLDS cult leader Warren Jeffs. Jailed in Texas while awaiting separate trials on child sexual abuse and bigamy charges, Jeffs is currently involved in a struggle over control of the religious cult.

Authorities are looking into additional reports of underage marriages involved the FLDS cult.

Regarding Emack’s appeal the Associated Press reports:

Oral arguments were set for Wednesday, but the appellate court likely won’t issue a ruling for weeks.

State prosecutors responded in court filings that the trial judge in Schleicher County already denied earlier attempts to suppress evidence from more than 900 boxes and 66 computers seized at the ranch. They also described Emack as paranoid that state officials targeted his church solely because of their religious beliefs.

“(Emack) plainly sees evidence of his persecution in everything; in every act of every state actor involved in his ultimate arrest and prosecution, at every stage,” prosecutors wrote. […]

The Texas attorney general’s office hasn’t lost a criminal case against the FLDS since the 2008 raid.

FLDS

Theologically, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) is a sect of Mormonism.

Theologically, Mormonism in turn is a cult of Christianity. Theologically, the FLDS is also considered to be a cult of Christianity.

Sociologically, the FLDS is a high-demand, high-control, destructive cult. Among other things, it teaches and practices polygamy, breaks up families and marriages, and has engaged in arranged and forced marriages.

Research resources on the FLDS

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014