According to other affidavits, investigators saw numerous underage girls who were pregnant and took statements from others who told of entering into polygamous marriages in their early teens. They described finding beds on a top floor of the temple, including one that had what looked like a long strand of female hair.
The long-feared bloody conflagration didn't materialize. Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the Texas trooper and Department of Public Safety, said agents had been much more "diplomatic" with the sect than they have been in other raids. "Not a shot was fired," she said, "and there wasn't even a twisted ankle in this one." (She declined to say whether weapons had been found on the ranch.)
But the sight of the confused, anxious faces of women and children gazing out the bus windows as they were transported to local churches, then mass shelters in San Angelo, was enough to shake Eldorado's townfolk, and stir a debate over whether the authorities may have gone too far.
Some were uncomfortable that the 16-year-old who reportedly called the child abuse hotline wasn't identified. A man authorities thought could be her alleged abuser had not set foot in Texas in the last five years. No arrests have been made on any abuse charges in the compound.
Others wondered if it was legal for the agents to keep the sect's men in their homes the first 24 hours after the raid, without charges. Later, at the group shelter in San Angelo, authorities took the cell phones away from mothers who remained in contact with their husbands back at the ranch.
Since the women hadn't been charged with a crime, folks asked, did the police have that right?
"A lot of people here are starting to ask those questions," says Griffin, the oil dealer. "If those women weren't under arrest, how could the police do that to them?"
Others were less bothered by it. "It's about time they went in there and busted that thing up," says Lisa Lopez, a 43-year-old homemaker. "I couldn't understand how people in Eldorado could sit back and let them have sex with underage girls for so long."
You've got it all wrong, say the people of the YFZ ranch, finding their voices after years of near silence. Children were not abused here. Eldorado indeed, all the outside world does not understand.
"We are all Heavenly Father's children," says an FLDS mother of two boys, ages 11 and 14, who identified herself only as Brenda. "You have your religion. I have mine. You choose to live how you want. I choose how I live mine. Is this not freedom? Can't we choose?"
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