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Officials say 31 teen sect girls are pregnant or had baby

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Officials say the majority of teen girls taken from polygamist sect are pregnant or had a baby

Texas child welfare officials say almost 60 percent of the underage girls taken in a raid on a polygamist compound in west Texas either have children or are pregnant.

Of the 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who are in state custody, 31 either have given birth or are expecting, said Child Protective Services spokesman Darrell Azar.

"It shows you a pretty distinct pattern, that it was pretty pervasive," Azar said Monday after releasing the latest figures.

Under Texas law, children under the age of 17 generally cannot consent to sex with an adult. A girl can get married with parental permission at 16, but none of these girls is believed to have a legal marriage under state law.

Church officials have denied that any children were abused at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado and say the state's actions are a form of religious persecution.

State officials took custody of all 463 children at the ranch controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, saying a pattern of teen girls forced into underage "spiritual" marriages and sex with much older men created an unsafe environment for the sect's children.

FLDS spokesman Rod Parker said he does not believe the CPS count is accurate. He said that from talking to ranch residents, he believes at least 17 of the girls may actually be adults but have been labeled by child welfare authorities as minors.

Agency officials have called into question claims of adulthood among the girls since the raid and have in some cases disputed documentation provided, saying the girls look younger than 18. Because many FLDS members share similar names and have complicated family relationships, identifying all of the children taken into custody has been a challenge.

"I do have serious questions about how they are determining age in there," said Parker, who is trying to get a better count from FLDS families.

He said the sect is at a disadvantage in proving names and ages because law enforcement confiscated every document that might show family relationships.

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if an adult put their hands on my 13 yr old daughter I would kill him. No cops, no courts, just me and my shovel. :x


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