Texas officials removed 50 children from the compound of a polygamist sect after a teenage girl reported being raped there, according to a media report late Friday. ( dpa )
The Houston Chronicle reported online that 18 of the children were removed by court order because they had been abused.
A spokesman for Child Protective Services (CPS) told the Chronicle that another 30 children and youths were also removed from the compound in west Texas.
The colony was founded by Warren Jeffs, in his early 50s, leader of a breakaway Mormon sect that openly practices polygamy. Jeffs was sentenced last year to five years to life in prison for coercing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin, which made him an accomplice to rape.
"The actions we've taken today have nothing to do with religion or lifestyle," Darrell Azar, spokesman for CPS, was quoted as saying. "The pure interest is in protecting children from abuse and neglect. That's what we have done."
The sect came to Texas in 2003 and have built a large temple near the small town of Eldorado.
In Jeffs' trial, prosecutors charged Jeffs had used his religious authority as leader of the 10,000- member Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which openly practices polygamy, to force the 14-year-old girl to marry her cousin.
During the trial, the girl testified that she was told by Jeffs that her salvation would be endangered should she refuse to marry her cousin.
Jeffs, who was on the FBI's most-wanted list, has allegedly arranged marriages for girls as young as 13 and faces charges in Arizona of being an accomplice to incest and accomplice to sex with minors.