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Warren Jeffs still leads sect from prison

April 4, 2013 at 8:57 AM

ELDORADO, Texas, April 4 (UPI) -- Warren Jeffs, the polygamist serving life in prison for sexually assaulting two girls, still leads the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, former followers said.

Witnesses said among the orders issued by Jeffs -- president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- is a requirement that 15 men father all the children in the community near Eldorado, ABC News reported Thursday.

Some ex-followers said they believe Jeffs, who has been behind bars for five years, wants control over the children.

Jeffs, a man who married more than 80 women, has claimed God has revealed to him who to banish from the community.

Andrew Chatwin, a former FLDS member who is one of a group trying to help families cast out by Jeffs, told ABC News many families are going hungry after they were ordered by Jeffs to eat only beans and water, supposedly because the church needs cash.

ABC said Jeffs, in another money-raising measure, ordered followers to sign over their vehicles to the church so they could be sold.

"[If] somebody comes in and visits with him, and he gives them instructions and they take them back by word of mouth, there's just nothing we can do to control that," Texas Corrections Department Director of Public Information John Hurt said when asked by ABC News why Jeffs still leads the sect.

Even after his conviction of molesting the two girls, ages 12 and 15, loyalty among his 8,000 followers remains absolute, ABC said.

"We know he is innocent," said Dr. Maryam Holm, the community's primary healthcare provider. "And we all yearn for his deliverance."

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