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Raid On Texas Compound Has Authorities Concerned

April 7, 2008, 10:00 PM by Matthew Holsen

After receiving a complaint from a sixteen year old girl regarding physical and sexual abuse authorities removed around 200 women and children from a compound in Eldorado, Texas similar to the one owned by the fundamentalist church of latter day saints near Custer, South Dakota. Eighteen children have been reportedly taken into state custody in Texas because they were allegedly abused or were in danger of future abuse.

As events unfolded at a FLDS compound in Eldorado Texas Friday, Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler fielded phone calls from people interested in a similar compound just outside Pringle, South Dakota. 

"I've seen it on TV. I had people calling me up wanting to know if I had seen it on there so I pulled it up on the internet. Then we had seen some stuff in the paper about it. I was surprised," says Wheeler.

In his two years as sheriff, Wheeler says he hasn't heard of any incidents at the Custer County compound like the ones under investigation in Texas. 

After polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was convicted in Utah last year on two counts of being an accomplice to rape, Wheeler says people in the area got more suspicious and what's going on in Texas only fuels the concern. 

"It's something I guess we all thought was possible and could happen," he says.

Wheeler has been in contact with the Sheriff in Texas for several months and checked in with him today. 

"I called him this morning to see how things were going and he said it was relatively good for the size of the operation they've got going on down there but everything was going fairly smooth," says Wheeler.

The Texas compound houses roughly four hundred people, while the Custer County compound is home to 100, according to Wheeler. He says he hasn't seen too many kids during his visits but if he gets any complaints... 

"Well we'd have to go down and see whether or not its valid," says Wheeler.

Which is what Texas authorities are in the process of doing.

Wheeler spoke with someone at the Custer County compound over the weekend to make sure there wasn't anything he should know about; he's hoping to keep an open line of communication with members.

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