LOS ANGELES — Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of a US polygamist sect, was in critical condition at a Texas hospital, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Jeffs, 55, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month for his “spiritual marriage” to two young girls, and after police seized hundreds of children from the sect.
Considered a prophet by his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jeffs was rushed to hospital Sunday after several days on a hunger strike at a facility near Palestine, Texas, a prison spokesman told the Salt Lake Tribune.
The Texas Department of Corrections confirmed online Monday that Jeffs was on temporary medical release but did not immediately confirm other details of the reports in US media.
Jeffs’ reclusive sect was thrust into the spotlight in 2008 when Texas police raided a sprawling compound near the small town of Eldorado and seized 468 young boys and girls amid allegations of systemic sexual and physical abuse.
The children were soon returned to their parents when a court ruled that child welfare officials had overstepped their authority.
Documents recovered showed that Jeffs had take 78 illegal wives — 24 of whom were underage. He even married two 12-year-old girls to himself in a single day.
Jeffs had been put on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in May 2006 for charges of accomplice to rape in Utah.
He was caught outside of Las Vegas in August 2006, but his conviction on two charges stemming out of the arranged marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old first cousin was overturned last year by a Utah court.
Jeffs was found guilty earlier this month in the Texas case of sexually assaulting the 12-year-old girl in 2006 and fathering a child with a 15-year-old girl in 2005, a claim backed by DNA evidence presented by prosecutors.
The FLDS church is said to have about 10,000 members.