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FLDS get new deadline in fight over Texas ranch

Published December 31, 2012 3:00 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The fate of a remote polygamous ranch in Texas remained in limbo Monday after attorneys agreed to wait until the end of the week before lawyers for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) are required to respond to the state's attempt to seize the land.

The Texas Attorney General's Office moved to seize the 1,600-acre Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ) — which is owned by the Warren Jeffs-led sect — in late November. Texas authorities claimed the polygamous sect purchased the land in order to create a remote spot where they could avoid criminal prosecution for sexually assaulting children. Authorities also accused the group of money laundering.

Attorneys representing the sect now have until Friday to respond in writing to the allegations. The deadline is a one-week extension made possible by a two-page document filed Monday in Texas. Dan Gerson, who represents the polygamous sect, declined Monday to divulge what the FLDS response might be.

Attorneys for the Texas Attorney General's Office could not be reached for comment.

The latest allegations were outlined in what amounted to a civil lawsuit over the YFZ Ranch, which the FLDS purchased in 2003. In 2008, Texas and federal law enforcement officers raided the ranch after receiving an ultimately bogus tip that an underage girl was being held against her will.

The raid eventually led to criminal charges against Jeffs, who was convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

The move to seize the ranch began when Texas authorities filed a 91-page search and seizure warrant on Nov. 27. Attorneys for the sect have previously stated it could result in the expulsion of FLDS members from the ranch.

— Jim Dalrymple

Twitter: @jimmycdii