ELDORADO, Texas – An arrest warrant has been dropped for a man thought to be the husband of a teenage girl whose report of abuse triggered a raid on a polygamous sect's Texas compound, authorities said.
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman would not say why the warrant was dropped for Dale E. Barlow, 50, who lives in Colorado City, Arizona. Barlow has denied knowing the 16-year-old girl who called a crisis center.
The girl reported that she was a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that she was beaten and raped at the sect's Eldorado ranch.
An investigation led to the April 3 raid, in which state welfare workers took 463 children living at the Yearning For Zion Ranch. A boy was born to one of the sect's mothers Tuesday; he and the other children remain in state custody.
Authorities have not located the 16-year-old girl and are investigating the source of the call.
Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger would not say when the warrant for Barlow was dropped, only that "it is no longer active."
Rob Parker, an FLDS spokesman, said the dropped warrant shows the weakness of the state's case against residents of the ranch.
"I think that's just one more piece of evidence that the whole basis on which this raid was premised was unfounded and was inadequately checked out, to the formulation of what basically amounted to an army that went in there and took their children," Parker said.
The phone number used to call the crisis center is the same one once used by a Colorado woman, identified as 33-year-old Rozita Swinton of Colorado Springs, accused of making previous false reports of abuse.
Investigators have not said whether Swinton made the call to Texas authorities, though Vinger said she is "still considered a person of interest."
"There is an investigation centering on that," Vinger said. "We have quite a bit of evidence that still needs to be analyzed."
A judge has ruled that children removed from the ranch should stay in state custody until all can have a hearing.
Child welfare officials told the judge the children were living in an authoritarian environment that left girls at risk of sexual abuse and raised boys to become sexual perpetrators.
The FLDS is a group that splintered from the Mormon Church, which does not recognize the sect and disavows polygamy.
In Utah, members of the polygamous church have asked the state's governor to intervene in its fight with Texas authorities over the custody the children.
A letter written by FLDS elder Willie Jessop says Texas officials are rejecting Utah-issued birth certificates and other documents as "fake."
The letter asks Gov. Jon Huntsman to exercise his executive authority to assist in protecting the civil rights of native Utahns and FLDS members. FLDS parents claim they have been denied their due process by the Texas courts.
"Without your leadership and personal intervention in this matter, the parental rights of every Utah family is at risk," Jessop wrote.
Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelly said the governor has been in contact with Jessop and was reviewing his request.