Five polygamous sect members arrested

Chris Rizo Jul. 28, 2008, 11:41am

ELDORADO, Texas-Five men from the polygamous sect here are in police custody, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Monday.

Abbott said the men, who belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, surrendered to officials Monday afternoon at the Schleicher County Sheriff's Office in Eldorado.

Four of the suspects are charged with sexually assaulting a child.

Those charged include: Raymond Merrill Jessop, 36; Allan Eugene Keate, 56; Michael George Emack, 57; Merrill Leroy Jessop, 33. They face from five years to life in prison.

A fifth defendant, Lloyd Hammon Barlow, 38, is charged with three counts of failure to report child abuse. He faces a sentence of up to six months in prison and a fine of $2,000 per count.

Last week, a district court set bond for each of the four men charged with sexual abuse at $100,000 per charge. Hammon's misdemeanor charge carries a $5,000 bond.

Abbott said the Schleicher County grand jury also returned a first-degree felony charge against sect leader Warren Jeffs, who was indicted for sexually assaulting a child.

Jeffs, 52, has already been convicted in Utah on two counts of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl and is currently awaiting trial on similar charges in Arizona.

"Today's arrests reflect a nearly week-long effort by the Texas Rangers and the Texas Attorney General's Office to arrange for the defendants' arrest," Abbott said in a statement.

Abbott said the charges resulted from a cooperative investigation among the Texas Attorney General's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, the Schleicher County Sheriff's Department, 51st Judicial District Attorney Steve Lupton, and the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Richard Roper.

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