Attorney for Sect Teen Refuses to Testify in Texas Grand Jury Hearing
A Texas grand jury apparently investigating alleged sexual abuse of girls by a polygamous religious sect reportedly tried to call an attorney for one 16-year-old, Natalie Malonis, to testify yesterday.
But Malonis refused, citing attorney-client privilege, which led to an interruption in the San Angelo grand jury hearing as Judge Barbara Walther was called upon to decide the issue. She ruled that there was not a sufficient basis to require Malonis to testify, reports the Deseret News.
Malonis is the court-appointed lawyer for a 16-year-old member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
As discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, members of the polygamous sect are accused of pressuring underage girls into “spiritual” marriages with much older men, which led to a raid on the sect’s Yearning for Zion ranch in April. Some 468 children were removed from their parents’ custody before the Texas Supreme Court ruled in late May that the state had exceeded its authority and ordered the children returned. A criminal investigation of the alleged sexual abuse continues, however, and Walther still has authority to oversee the well-being of the children even though they have been returned.
ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer Under Armed Guard as Grand Jury Hears Texas Sect Case”
ABAJournal.com: “Sect Leader’s Daughter Tells Attorney Ad Litem to Step Aside”