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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July, 2005, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Eight arrests in US polygamy sect
New church built at the FLDS's compound in Texas
Warren Jeffs is believed to have been at his Texas compound
Eight members of a polygamous community have been indicted in connection with cases of alleged sexual misconduct with minors, US prosecutors say.

The charges follow an investigation into communities of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Arizona and Utah.

One of the men was arrested on Friday, while the others turned themselves in on Monday, AP news agency reported.

Police are still seeking the church's leader, who was charged last month.

Warren Jeffs, who is reputed to have 70 wives, was charged by authorities in Arizona with conspiring to commit sexual misconduct with a minor.

Mr Jeffs, 49, took over the leadership of the church after his father Rulon died in 2002, and has not been seen for more than a year.

Some believe he could be hiding at an FLDS compound near Eldorado in Texas.

Three wives

The 10,000-strong FLDS split from the Mormon Church more than a century ago after the latter renounced polygamy.

The sect dominates the towns of Colorado City, in Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, less than a mile away.

One of the men charged this week is a former police officer, previously convicted of bigamy and illegal sex with a teenage girl he had taken as a third wife, AP said.

Members of FLDS believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven.

Polygamy is illegal in the US, but the authorities have reportedly been reluctant to confront the FLDS for fear of sparking a tragedy similar to the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, which led to the deaths of around 80 members.

However, correspondents say the church is coming under increasing pressure from authorities in Utah and Arizona.


SEE ALSO:
Sex claims hit US polygamy sect
14 Jun 05 |  Americas


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