NBC: Polygamists investigated for abuse claims

/ Source: NBC, msnbc.com and news services

Authorities are investigating abuse and bigamy allegations involving members of a  polygamous sect, NBC News reported Tuesday.

Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, told NBC the investigation involved about 20 claims of abuse and 50 claims of bigamy involving sect members. She said it was unclear how many cases ultimately would be pursued.

Willie Jessop, a spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, declined to comment Tuesday, NBC said.

Texas Rangers were sorting through documents seized from the sect's Yearning For Zion Ranch in West Texas in April.

At that time, more than 400 children were removed from the ranch amid allegations that underage girls were being forced into marriage. The Texas Supreme Court later ruled the state had overreached and ordered the children returned to their parents.

A grand jury in July indicted already jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and four followers on charges of sexual assault of a child. The charges stem the allegations that the sect forced the girls into marriage and motherhood with much older men. One follower also faced a bigamy charge.

The sect's doctor was charged with three counts of failing to report child abuse.

Please check back for more details on this developing story.