San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 16th, 2008
State concedes polygamist sect member who gave birth here is an adult

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

Child Protective Services officials acknowledge that a teen polygamist sect adherent who gave birth in a San Marcos hospital last month is a legal adult. Her baby boy remains in foster care, one of 463 children in state custody after the April raid on a polygamist sect’s ranch in West Texas.

Pamela Jeffs, 18, gave birth April 28 at Central Texas Medical Center as state troopers and ladies in pastel prarie dresses waited outside. Earlier the same week state officials announced that 31 of the 53 girls age 14-17 in state care were either mothers or were pregnant. When Jeffs went into labor while at a group home near San Marcos, an agency spokesperson said she was one of the minors.

CPS spokesperson Chris Van Deusen confirmed in an interview with the San Marcos Mercury this morning, however, that Jeffs is 18 and has documentation to verify her age, as was first reported by the Houston Chronicle in today’s editions.

Jeffs is one of 27 young women in state custody whose age is in question but are being treated as minors until their status is proved, Van Deusen said. The spokesperson also said for the first time that another sect member in foster care who gave birth two days ago is an adult.

“We had not said for sure they are children but we had classified them as ‘disputed minors,'” Van Deusen said. “We’re continuing to gather information and gather documentation from any sources we can find, and their status will be determined as the investigation continues.”

Authorities raided the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints’ Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado on April 4 and 5 and took custody of the children on the belief that the sect’s practice of marriage to girls younger than 17 years old endangered the children. The children, and apparently some adults, were sent to foster homes around the state, including some near San Marcos.

Van Deusen said he did not know Pamela Jeff’s relationship to Warren Jeffs, the FLDS’ former leader who is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Utah for “rape by accomplice” in a case based on allegations he arranged pluralistic marriages between male members of his church and underaged girls.

Sect representatives bought the 1,700-acre ranch property in 2004 and told county officials that it was being developed as a corporate hunting retreat. Until his arrest in 2005, Jeffs had last been seen near the ranch where he built a 29,000 square foot house for himself in addition to the now familiar gleaming white temple and log house quarters for hundreds of his followers who relocated from Arizona and Utah.

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