Lawyer Under Armed Guard as Grand Jury Hears Texas Sect Case
A court-appointed lawyer for a 16-year-old member of a polygamous religious sect was reportedly under armed guard today as she arrived for a Texas grand jury hearing in an ongoing investigation of alleged abuse of teen and pre-teen girls by members of the sect.
Attorney Natalie Malonis apparently was representing Teresa Jeffs, 16, in expected grand jury testimony by the teen today, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Her client, who is a daughter of the sect’s jailed leader, Warren Jeffs, has sought to fire Malonis, as discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.
“Officials and lawyers would not speak publicly about the case, but lawyers for the state are believed to be presenting evidence to the Schleicher County grand jury about the alleged sexual abuse of young girls belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” the newspaper writes.
As discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com and ABA Journal coverage, the FLDS advocates polygamy and allegedly has promoted “spiritual” marriages of underage girls to much older men. The group’s compound in Texas was raided by authorities in April, leading to a child custody case of unprecedented scope. The state’s supreme court held in May that some 468 children had been wrongly removed in the raid, and said they must be returned. A related criminal investigation of the treatment of children at the FLDS compound, however, continues.
ABAJournal.com: “Sect Leader’s Daughter Tells Attorney Ad Litem to Step Aside”
ABAJournal.com: “Texas Judge Returns 400-Plus FLDS Kids to Their Parents”
ABAJournal.com: “Return of Sect Children Doesn’t End Abuse Inquiry”
ABAJournal.com: “Polygamous Texas Sect Bans Underage Teen Marriages”