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Updated: 1:03 PM- SAN ANGELO, Texas -- A judge has ordered the Texas attorney general's office to serve as the prosecutor on all criminal cases connected to last month's raid on a polygamous ranch near here.
The district attorney filed a motion Monday asking the Texas attorney general to assume the cases. A state judge granted the request in a one-paragraph order issued the same day.
The judge instructed the Texas attorney general to review any possible cases arising from two search warrants served on the YFZ Ranch, home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, did not know what type of charges the office would consider, but said: "Our office has been in communication with law enforcement as well as prosecutors."
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has said his office will not prosecute bigamy in the FLDS unless someone is committing additional felonies, such as sexual abuse or fraud. Strickland said the Texas attorney general has not such a declaration.
Strickland said he did not know if Abbott would assign a single prosecutor or a team.
The case volume had the potential to burden the Tom Green County District Attorney's office, which has jurisdiction for felony cases in a five-county area with a combined population similar to West Valley City.
The judge's order also did not specify what criminal charges the attorney general could consider, but Texas child protection workers have suggested adult men were having sex with underage girls at the ranch.
Officials also have said 41 of 464 seized children had histories of broken bones, but have said it has not been determined whether any of those injuries were the result of abuse.
There also were two men arrested during the raid on suspicion of interfering with police. Formal charges have not been filed against either man.
Texas Child Protective Services said today it is working with the Texas Education Agency to provide education to the seized FLDS children, most of whom are now in shelters across the state.
State and local police arrived April 3 at the Eldorado ranch to serve a search and arrest warrant. The warrants claimed a 16-year-old girl had called a local hotline claiming her 50-year-old husband was abusing her. Police wanted to find the teenager and arrest the man identified as her polygamous husband.
Neither the teen nor the 50-year-old man were located on the ranch. But child welfare workers said once on the ranch, they found evidence of abuse, including 31 teenage girls who were pregnant or had given birth. The FLDS dispute the ages of 26 of those girls, claiming they are adults.
The 464 children in state custody include one born after the raid. Hearings to determine each child's status are scheduled to begin May 19.
Meanwhile, a Colorado Springs, Colo., woman with a history of making false abuse claims is under investigation for placing the calls that triggered the raid. The arrest warrant for the 50-year-old Colorado City, Ariz., man identified as the abusive husband was canceled without the man ever being arrested.
Legal experts have said any criminal prosecutions could be challenged by the apparently faulty information contained in the original warrants served on the ranch. But lawyers also have said inaccuracies will not be an issue in the civil proceedings determining child custody.