FLDS opponents say wrong man named in warrant

Texas authorities named the wrong man in search and arrest warrants used to enter the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado and begin questioning FLDS children, two opponents of the sect said Tuesday.

The warrant issued Thursday evening named 50-year-old Dale Barlow, alleging he had married and impregnated a 16-year-old girl. Officials, who later sought a second search warrant, have removed 419 children.

But Joni Holm, who has helped children leave the FLDS, said the teenager who called officials on March 29 and 30 and claimed she was abused is married to a different, younger man. The girl’s husband is in his late 30s, is related to Dale Barlow, shares his surname and has a similar sounding first name, Holm said.

“I know they’re looking into the wrong one,” Holm said.

Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Tuesday said police were continuing to serve warrants and attempt to locate “the person that we are looking for.”

When asked if that person was still Dale Barlow, she said, “As far as I know.”

But Flora Jessop, who left the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at age 16 and now helps others do the same, also said the wrong man was named in the initial warrants.

Texas authorities have made no effort to apprehend Dale Barlow at his address in Colorado City, Ariz. He reported to his Arizona probation officer on Friday – less than 24 hours after the raid began – to tell the officer he was under investigation.

His probation officer has said Dale Barlow claimed to not know the teenager making the abuse accusations. Later Friday, Arizona authorities questioned him and searched his home.

The Salt Lake Tribune, which generally does not name alleged victims of sexual abuse, and other media outlets have not published the girl’s name.

But Holm said the girl’s identity, and the correct identity of her husband, is “common knowledge” in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, where the sect has traditionally been based.

The Tribune is not naming the man identified by Holm as the girl’s husband because he has not been named as a suspect or in court filings.

Holm, who is married to a former FLDS member, said she has spoken with people who know the teenager. She thinks Texas officials confused the two Barlows.

She believes it is possible the teenager did not know her husband’s correct age and told authorities he is about 50. Also, she noted, Dale Barlow has a 2007 conviction in Arizona for criminal charges related to marrying and impregnating a different 16-year-old girl, which may have contributed to confusion.

The first warrant identified Dale Barlow by name and his birth date. The copy on file in court does not list the name of the investigator who petitioned for it.

A second and more expanded warrant, signed Sunday night, was based on observations and evidence found by law enforcement and child services workers inside the compound, according to court documents.

Brooke Adams contributed to this report.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday April 9, 2008.
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