Ben Winslow, Deseret News
Law enforcement officers confer outside the Schleicher County Memorial Building in Eldorado, Texas.

ELDORADO, Texas — Five more indictments have been handed down against three people in the ongoing criminal probe into the Utah-based Fundamentalist LDS Church.

"All five are felony charges," Schleicher County Clerk Peggy Williams said Tuesday, announcing the grand jury indictments here.

Each person will face a sexual assault charge.

"The three ... 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."

Williams would not reveal who was indicted until they are served with court papers. The Schleicher County Sheriff's Office will either arrange for the indicted individuals to surrender or apprehend them.

"Whatever they say we need to do," chief deputy George Arispe told the Deseret News after the grand jury had left for the day.

A lawyer representing FLDS members showed up to the courthouse late Tuesday afternoon to inquire about the indictments, but also could not get any names.

After meeting for only six hours on Tuesday, a prosecutor in the Texas Attorney General's Office stepped out of the Schleicher County Memorial Building and into the sunshine to fetch a court clerk. A few minutes later, she emerged with the sealed indictments.

Members of the secret panel filed out of the building in a line, past a fence of yellow plastic sheriff's tape that stretched around the entire building.

It did not appear that any witnesses testified before the grand jury on Tuesday. Attorneys representing some young women from the polygamous church have said their clients were not subpoenaed to appear this time.

Prosecutors took briefcases and boxes with them into the building. The grand jury may have heard more evidence based on scores of documents seized in the April 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.

Deputy Texas Attorney General Angela Goodwin declined to comment as she left the courthouse.

The grand jury will meet again in November and December. This grand jury's term was originally scheduled to expire in October, but it has now been extended until Dec. 31, the Deseret News has learned.

Six people have already been indicted on charges in connection with alleged underage marriages. They are:

• FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, 52, charged with sexual assault 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 was convened shortly after the raid on the YFZ Ranch. Hundreds of children were placed in state protective custody in April when law enforcement and Child Protective Services caseworkers went to the FLDS property near here to investigate abuse allegations.

The children were returned two months later when the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state acted improperly and the children were not at immediate risk of abuse. Since then, CPS has dropped hundreds of children from court oversight in the nation's largest child custody case.

A Deseret News tally estimates 300 people have now been "nonsuited" from the case.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com