Members of polygamist sect argue constitutional rights violated in sweeping search

Texas sect men seek ruling on seized documents

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Ten members of a polygamist sect facing charges of bigamy and sexual assault on a child want a judge to throw out hundreds of boxes of documents and other evidence seized from the Yearning For Zion Ranch.

Texas District Judge Barbara Walther is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday on suppressing the evidence, which includes documents listing plural and underage marriages and pregnancies among sect girls.

A lawyer for the men argues law enforcement misled a judge about the veracity of the calls prompting the April 2008 raid. Gerald Goldstein writes that the Texas Rangers used the hoax calls as an excuse “for staging a massively intrusive raid upon a disfavored religious group.”

But prosecutors say law enforcement had the required probable cause to search the ranch.

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