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Ben Winslow, Deseret News
Schleicher County Court Clerk Mary Ann Gonzalez, left, and deputy Texas Attorney General Angela Goodwin leave the building where the grand jury investigating the Fundamentalist LDS Church met today. The grand jury handed down five more indictments.

ELDORADO, Texas — Five indictments were handed down against three members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church here this afternoon on felony charges.

Three were indicted on sexual assault charges.

"The three suspects were indicted for sexually assaulting children," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement. "Each of those suspects faces one felony count of sexual assault of a child and two of the suspects each face an additional first-degree felony charge of bigamy."

The grand jury left about 2:30 p.m. local time, and shortly after, the indictments were announced.

Schleicher County Clerk Peggy Williams said she would not reveal who was indicted until the wanted individuals either surrendered or were taken into custody.

The grand jury probing crimes within the FLDS Church started meeting in the Schleicher County Memorial Building at about 8:30 a.m. local time today, with law enforcement surrounding the building. However, by midday, it did not appear that any witnesses had showed up to testify.

Attorneys representing some young women from the FLDS Church have said their clients were not subpoenaed to testify this time. Prosecutors from the Texas Attorney General's Office went into the building early this morning, taking briefcases and boxes with them.

The grand jury may have heard more evidence based on scores of documents seized in the raid on the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch. Marriage certificates, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks and dictations were all taken as evidence. Some has wound its way into ongoing custody cases as Texas child welfare authorities sought to show a pattern of underage marriages.

Hundreds of children were placed in state protective custody in April when authorities went to the ranch to investigate abuse. They were returned two months later when a pair of Texas courts ruled the state acted improperly and the children were not at immediate risk of abuse.

The grand jury was convened shortly after the raid on the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch. Before today, six people had been indicted. They are:

• FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, 52, charged with sexual assault of a child and bigamy.

• Raymond Merril Jessop, 36, charged with sexual assault and bigamy.

• Allan Eugene Keate, 56, indicted on a sexual assault charge.

• Merril Leroy Jessop, 33, indicted on sexual assault and bigamy charges.

• Michael Emack, 57, indicted on sexual assault and bigamy.

• Lloyd Hammond Barlow, 38, charged with three misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse.

The grand jury will meet again in November.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com