The state of Texas is one step closer to seizing the Yearning For Zion Ranch — a 1,691 acres property owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Under Texas law, law enforcement can try to seize property that was used to commit or facilitate certain criminal conduct.
A number of Jeffs’ followers have also been prosecuted for crimes committed at the sect’s ranch.
On April 3, 2008, Texas authorities raided the ranch and took 400 children in protective custody after receiving a phone call — later determined to have been a hoax — in which the caller claimed she was forced to have sex and was beaten regularly.
Dozen men, including cult leader, convicted
However, 12 men — including the cult’s leader, Warren Jeffs — were indicted for crimes including child sexual assault, bigamy and performing an illegal marriage.
In legal documents — including a 91-page affidavit, along with a search and seizure warrant — submitted when the State first moved to seize control of the ranch, a law enforcement officer describes how proceeds from illegal activities were used to purchase the ranch.
The State also says that FLDS leaders bought the ranch in a failed attempt to establish a remote outpost where they could insulate themselves from criminal prosecution for sexually assaulting children.
Last Monday, Texas District Judge Barbara Walther issued a default judgment in favor of the State, because no one representing Warren Jeffs showed up in court.
Leaders of the FLDS Church and the United Order of Texas Trust now have 30 days to appeal the judgment before it becomes final.