As fresh details emerged about the dramatic raid of a Texas temple where authorities claim a polygamist sect consummated spiritual marriages with underage girls, local law officers and state officials faced a tough question: Should they have acted sooner?, reports the San Antonio Express-News. Schliecher County Sheriff David Doran said he had a confidential informant who supplied him with “great information” for four years. He knew the group practiced polygamy, which is illegal in Texas. Even though he’d heard rumors that adult male members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints married and sexually abused young girls, he had no solid information such abuse was taking place.
Said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott: “For certain constitutional reasons, the state can’t just jump in any time a concern exists. It has to wait for a legal violation to occur.” The first actionable evidence, Abbott said, were the calls a 16-year-old girl from the sect made on a borrowed cell phone to a domestic violence hot line beginning on March 29. Said a spokesman for the state child protective srevices agency: “In America, you don’t go into someone’s home just because you think their religion would lead you to believe something might be going on,” he continued. “We can only act if we get specific information that an individual is being neglected or abused.”