SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) – Law enforcement officers denied Friday they used fake calls to a domestic abuse hot line as a pretext to raid a polygamist sect’s ranch or that they prepared to rummage through the entire complex before a search warrant was issued.

Texas Ranger Brooks Long and Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran both testified in the third day of a hearing on whether evidence gathered in the raid should be excluded from the trials of 10 men from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The men face charges including sexual assault of a child and bigamy stemming from the raid last April.

Attorneys for the defendants, all of the sect men charged except jailed leader Warren Jeffs and a member only facing a misdemeanor charge, have accused law enforcement of failing to check the veracity of the hot line calls because the state wanted an excuse to rummage through the ranch.

But Long testified Friday that the caller, now believed to be a Colorado woman with a history of mental illness and false calls to law enforcement, was believable at the time and hot line workers were convinced she was a 16-year-old mother who was being abused at the ranch.

“They totally believed this was going on and that this girl was in danger,” Long said.

He and Doran also denied allegations by the FLDS lawyers that they had planned for a giant raid even though the initial search warrant only gave them authority to look for the girl, her baby and her husband.

The hearing continued into the evening Friday, and it was unclear how long it would take to complete.

Defense attorneys want the evidence from the raid, which included some 928 boxes of family photos, computers and church documents, excluded from the trials. Some appear to show underage marriages and more than one woman married to the same man.

Law enforcement raided the ranch in April 2008, leading to more than 400 sect children temporarily swept into state custody.

The FLDS, which believes polygamy brings glorification in heaven, is a breakaway sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon church renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Jeffs, jailed in Arizona on charges of being an accomplice to rape and previously convicted in Utah, also faces charges in Texas of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.


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