|Sect leader Warren Jeffs was also indicted.|
SAN ANGELO, Texas - Texas authorities yesterday began looking for five indicted members of a polygamist sect, in a child sex-abuse case that the group's spokesman alleged was a face-saving move by officials who lost a court battle over their seizure of hundreds of children from a sect-owned ranch.
The five men were indicted Tuesday with sect leader Warren Jeffs, who already was convicted in Utah and jailed in Arizona on charges related to underage marriages.
Jeffs and four of the followers were charged in Texas with felony sexual assault of a child, and the fifth follower was charged with failing to report child abuse. One of the followers also was charged with bigamy.
"Our office does have warrants in hand and indictments in hand," said Sheriff David Doran of Schleicher County, where the ranch is located. His tiny west Texas department was working with Texas Rangers and prosecutors to arrest the men.
The identities of the men and details of the accusations were to remain under seal until the men are arrested. Doran, who cultivated a relationship with the ranch's residents before state authorities raided the property April 3, said it's hard to tell whether the men are even still in Texas.
"I haven't personally seen them since the raid took place," he said.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office is acting as the special prosecutor in the case, vowed Tuesday that authorities would make an aggressive effort to find the accused members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jeffs, already convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice and awaiting trial in Arizona on other charges, is accused of assaulting a girl in Texas in January 2005.