More than half of the teenage girls that were removed from a polygamist sect in Eldorado, Texas, are either currently pregnant or mothers, according to US officials.
Allegations of sexual abuse prompted police to raid the ranch this month, and all 463 children on the Yearning for Zion Ranch (photo from the BBC) were taken into care.
But officials from the sect deny that any children were abused at the ranch.
Authorities believe that 29 of the 53 girls, aged between 14 and 17, are already mothers, and two are pregnant.
Darrell Azar, a spokesman for the Texas Child Protective Services, said that “It shows you a pretty distinct pattern, that it was pretty pervasive.”
The ranch was raided by detectives after a 16-year-old called an abuse hotline and said she had been abused and raped by her 50-year-old husband.
After the raid, all children on the ranch, aged between six months and 17 years, were placed in emergency state custody.
Accomplice to rape
According to Texas laws, if sexual abuse is hapening in a home, without a parent putting an end to it, then the parent can lose custody of the child.
The Yearning for Zion Ranch belongs to a breakaway Mormon sect, called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).
The polygamist self-proclamed prophet, who leads the sect, Warren Jeffs (photo), is currently in jail as an accomplice to rape, after forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her cousin.
Currently awaiting trial in Arizona on charges of being an accomplice to four counts of incest and sexual conduct with a minor, stemming from two marriages.
The 10,000-strong sect, that dominates the towns of Colorado City in Arizona, and Hildale, in Utah, split more than a century ago, from the mainstream Mormon church.
Members of the sect believe that in order to ascend to heaven, a man must marry at least three wives.
Meanwhile, women are taught that their path to heaven depends on being subservient to their husband.