Historian: Officials Botched Raid On Sect

Ken driggs
Authorities blew it when they raided the polygamist compound in Eldorado, Texas, removing all 416 children believed to have lived at the ranch, asserts lawyer Ken Driggs, a historian of polygamy.

Court documents said a number of teens at the compound were pregnant, and all the children were removed on the grounds that they were in danger of "emotional, physical, and-or sexual abuse." Nearly 140 women left on their own.

On The Early Show Wednesday, co-anchor Harry Smith quoted from legal documents saying there "was a widespread pattern and practice on the compound in which young minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men."

But Driggs said, "I assume that the language you just read is from the affidavit that the state has used to secure a search warrant. I don't know where they got their information from. They may have read it in a newspaper article somewhere or something. As I read that warrant, it sounds fairly unfounded.

"I think that a search (of the compound) is way over-broad. It's probably completely the wrong way to approach the problem with them.

"I'm not suggesting that there may not be problems in this community. There clearly has been a history of under-aged brides in the community.

"It's not necessarily a problem with some of the other fundamentalist Mormon groups, but I think that this just drives them away from the authorities. It underscores their sort of persecution complex, and their belief that the outside world is a hostile and dangerous place that they should not be engaged with."

Laurie Allen, a former polygamist who went on to make a documentary about the lifestyle called "Banking on Heaven," strongly disagreed.

She said polygamy is "all about the slavery of women and children and, you know, what the gentleman (Driggs) is talking about -- I mean, he makes the point, but what he doesn't understand is there's no way that you are going to go in there in the right way. ... His argument is flawed in that regard, because there's no way you're ever going to go in there in the right way. The only way you're going to go in there is just to go in there any old way. These people are so closed-minded, they're so controlled by their corrupt leaders that there's no way that you can go in there in the right way."