Compound lawyers fight warrant

April 9, 2008 4:47:23 PM PDT
Their pioneer-style dress, multiple marriages and cloistered ways may be unusual, but church lawyers argued in court Wednesday that the polygamist sect has a right to its faith and privacy. IMAGES: See photos from this story

Gerry Goldstein, a San Antonio lawyer representing the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, told a judge that the search of the temple in the sect's West Texas compound is analagous to a law enforcement search of the Vatican or other holy places.

He urged authorities to handle any documents seized with respect.

Prosecutor Allison Palmer countered that the purpose in seizing the documents was to uncover evidence of criminal activity, not to malign a religion.

State troopers and child welfare officials began a search of the FLDS compound in Eldorado last Thursday after a 16-year-old girl in the compound called a local family violence shelter to report her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her. The search warrant covered all documents related to marriages among sect members.

Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for church member Dale Barlow, a 50-year-old convicted sex offender believed to be in Arizona.

Authorities were looking for documents, family photos or even a family Bible with lists of marriages and children to determine whether the girl was married to Barlow, who was sentenced to jail last year after pleading no contest to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. He was ordered to register as a sex offender for three years while he is on probation

Some people have contacted CPS about donating clothes or toys for the children. If you wish to donate items, contact Bernadette Cashin at 713-940-5252.

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