Documents: Young Girls Forced to Marry

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A tale of forced marriage, sexual assault and domestic abuse from a frightened 16-year old girl set off the investigation and now more shocking revelations from court documents.

The girl secretly made her first phone call at the end of March telling a help line she had an 8-month-old infant and was pregnant with her second child.

She went on to say she was spiritually married to a man more than three times her age who allegedly beat her so badly that she ended up in a hospital with broken ribs.

Court papers say church members warned her that if she left the ranch, "outsiders would hurt her, force her to cut her hair, to wear makeup and clothes, and to have sex with lots of men."

The problem is authorities still don't know who the mystery teen is - or if they have her in custody.

But whoever she is, her account prompted the state to take temporary custody of all 416 children found at the west Texas ranch.

"We have now interviewed all of the children involved, and the information they have given us tells us that we have more victims," said Marleigh Meisner with the state Dept. of Family and Protective Services.

Investigators say a number of teen girls at the polygamist compound were pregnant, and all the children were removed because they were in danger of "emotional, physical, and-or sexual abuse"... conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with men at the ranch upon being spritually married."

The case is now working its way through the courts, with a custody hearing set later this month.

Meanwhile, there's been a great outpouring of help from the community, but volunteers say their motives aren't necessarily seen as helpful.

"I don't know what they were told about us but it is not good. The children are frightened, their schedules are upset, the food is different, they just wanted to go home," said Barbara Arendt, a volunteer with the First Baptist Church.

"They're concerned about the immediate future and they want to go home. They keep saying that, and I think there's a lot of concern when will it happen, how will it happen, and who gets to go back," said Michael Pfeiffer, a San Angelo Bishop.

One church member who opposes the raid on the compound -- founded by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs -- called the state's actions "religious persecution."

This investigation is now the largest child welfare case in Texas history.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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