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FLDS Member Who Pled to Assault Appealing Today, Arguing Tainted Evidence

Posted May 18, 2011 10:51 AM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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A Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints member, who last year pled guilty to sexually assaulting a 16-year old girl, is appealing the conviction. He says that he would not receive a fair trial in the rural Texas county where he was charged, and that the plea agreement was legal strategy.

The Associated Press reports that Michael Emack, 60, is the first FLDS member to appeal a conviction stemming from the 2008 government raid at the Yearning for Zion ranch. The government alleges that Emack had a child with the teenage girl, whom he wed in a "spiritual" marriage. He was sentenced to serve seven years in prison.

Emack’s lawyers plan to argue that a phone call to police from a woman pretending to be an abused child at the ranch instigated the raid, and therefore the search was tainted. After the raid, more than 400 children placed in temporary state custody.

"The 6-day siege of the YFZ Ranch community in April of 2008 was a law enforcement debacle of unprecedented scope and magnitude," Gerald Goldstein, Emack's attorney, wrote in a 49-page brief filed last month.

The hearing is scheduled to take place today in Texas’ 3rd District Court of Appeals.

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