Number used to report abuse in sect is linked to woman

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A court document says a phone number used to report alleged abuse at a polygamist retreat in West Texas had been used previously by a 33-year-old Colorado woman.

It’s not yet clear whether authorities suspect that Rozita Swinton of Colorado Springs made any of the calls that triggered this month’s raid of the compound near Eldorado.

An arrest warrant affidavit made public Wednesday says a phone number she had used previously was used to call a Texas crisis center before authorities conducted the raid and removed 437 children. Swinton’s whereabouts is unknown.

Authorities have said a 16-year-old girl called a crisis center alleging that she was abused at the compound. Authorities have not found that girl but say they have found evidence that other children were abused.

Swinton was arrested April 16 on suspicion of making a false report in a February incident in Colorado Springs with no known ties to the Texas case. She was later released.

Two Texas Rangers were with Colorado officials when they searched Swinton’s home. Texas authorities said the search turned up several items suggesting a possible connection between Swinton and calls regarding compounds in Texas and Arizona owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The items weren’t identified.

Swinton has not been arrested or charged in connection with the calls made to the Texas crisis center, but authorities call her a “person of interest” in that case.

The document released Wednesday shows that Swinton had an extensive record in Colorado Springs of posing as a troubled teen and making false allegations. The affidavit connects Swinton to several reports that alerted Colorado Springs officials.

The document links Swinton to calls made throughout October from a Dana Anderson. The caller claimed to be a young woman being abused by her pastor at Colorado Springs’ New Life Church, and later a 13-year-old student at Liberty High School who said she was being drugged and sexually abused by her father.

In February, a woman calling herself Jennifer called 911 from a prepaid cellphone saying that her father had locked her in her basement for days, the document said.

Officers linked the calls to Swinton in March.

In mid-April, Texas Rangers called Colorado Springs police regarding their investigation into the Yearning for Zion Ranch.

Texas Ranger Brooks Long asked about two telephone numbers, both with Colorado Springs area codes. One of the phone numbers, the document says, “was possibly related to the reporting party for the YFZ Ranch incident,” and was one of the numbers police had connected to Swinton.

Although Colorado Springs police did not file for an arrest warrant until three days after hearing from Texas, Swinton was arrested April 16 in connection with the February call.

Documents related to her arrest were sealed by a judge at the request of Texas authorities. The Associated Press filed a motion to unseal the records Monday, and the arrest warrant affidavit was released Wednesday.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday April 24, 2008.
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