CLYDE, Texas (AP) - Behind guarded, ornate gates at the end of a
rural road, a self-proclaimed prophet warns his followers about the
end of time -- and rails against a dangerous and unclean world
outside their West Texas compound in Clyde.
But this isn't the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints' ranch, which authorities raided last month in
Eldorado after receiving reports that underage girls were being
forced to marry much older men.
This is the House of Yahweh: a different, even darker sect that
the state has been investigating for years. Authorities in February
charged the group's 73-year-old leader with performing polygamous
weddings and forcing about 40 children -- some as young as 11 -- to
work jobs at his 44-acre compound.
If convicted on the most serious charges, Yisrayl Hawkins faces
up to 20 years in prison.
Another sect leader goes to court this summer on charges of
sexually abusing a teenager, bigamy and welfare fraud.
Although members deny they practice polygamy, former members say
Yisrayl Hawkins has at least two dozen wives -- and state records
show he fathered two babies last year with women ages 19 and 22.
Yisrayl Hawkins, who has pleaded not guilty in his criminal
case, told The Associated Press that he and his church are
misunderstood and persecuted because of their religious beliefs.
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