ELDORADO, Texas A court hearing for four men from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch indicted by a grand jury here was canceled after they hired lawyers and bailed out of jail.
A bail-reduction request for Raymond Merril Jessop, 36; Merril Leroy Jessop, 33; Allan Eugene Keate, 56; and Michael Emack, 57, was scheduled to be heard Thursday. However, court clerks said the hearing was canceled at the last moment when attorneys entered notices of appearance, and by the fact that the men had posted $500,000 in bail nearly a week ago.
In court papers, attorneys for the FLDS men argued that the $100,000-per-charge bail was excessive and they surrendered themselves once they became aware they had been indicted.
The April 3 raid on the YFZ Ranch, where hundreds of children were placed in state custody, made it difficult for the men to earn enough money to post bail. They had to travel great distances to visit their children, disrupting their ability to earn a living.
"As a consequence and in order to provide for his family, defendant has had to depend on donations from friends, family and fellow church members," Abilene attorney Randy Wilson wrote in court papers filed with the cases.
Five men were indicted last month by the grand jury investigating alleged crimes within the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch. The charges range from sexual assault to bigamy to failure to report child abuse.
Four of the men are accused of sexually assaulting girls under the age of 17 in what were purported to be marriages. Merril Jessop also is charged with bigamy, and Lloyd Hammon Barlow, 38, the community's doctor, is accused of delivering babies knowing their mothers were underage and not reporting it to authorities.
Future court hearings for the men have not been scheduled, clerks said.
The grand jury also indicted FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, 52, on a charge of sexual assault. Texas authorities have said they will seek to extradite him.Jeffs is currently in an Arizona jail facing trial on sexual misconduct charges, accusing him of performing underage marriages.Meanwhile, the criminal investigation continues, with a grand jury scheduled to meet here again on Thursday.
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