Some girls taken from polygamist ranch pregnant: court documents

A number of teenage girls removed from a secretive religious retreat built by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs are pregnant, according to Texas authorities in court documents.

A number of teenage girls removed from a secretive religious retreat built by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs are pregnant,Texas authorities allege in court documents. 

Child welfare officials also allege in court documents released Tuesday that sexual abuse was rampant at the 700-hectare compound in the small town of Eldorado, about 300 kilometres northwest of San Antonio.

More than 400 children believed to have lived on the ranch were removed on the grounds that they were in danger of "emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse," according to court documents.

The affidavit also says boys were groomed to be ready to marry underage girls upon adulthood and engage in sexual activity, resulting in them becoming new "perpetrators."

Police raided the compound to investigate allegations that a teenage girl married a 50-year-old member of the community and had a baby with him when she was 15.

Such a marriage would be illegal under Texas law, which prohibits girls under age 16 to marry, even with parental approval.

The girl, who is now 16, telephoned a local family violence shelter last Thursday, prompting the raid. But officials still aren't sure where the girl is.

She alleged her husband would "beat and hurt" her when he got angry, hitting her in the chest and choking her while another woman in the house held her baby.

The husband has not been identified.

Attorneys for the church have said state authorities didn't have enough evidence to search grounds and have filed motions asking a judge to quash the warrant.

The community is part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect run by Jeffs that broke away from the Mormons after the latter disavowed polygamy more than a century ago.

The sect includes about 1,000 followers in the religious community of Bountiful, B.C.

Jeffs is in jail in Arizona, where he is awaiting a second trial on charges of incest and sexual conduct with a minor.

With files from the Associated Press