DALLAS (AP) -- Gov. Rick Perry took personal responsibilityThursday if Texas "stepped across some legal line" in the Aprilraid on a West Texas polygamous sect's ranch while defending thestate's action, The Dallas Morning New reported.
Perry, who was in La Baule, France, for a European businessconference, said the state has an obligation to protect young womenfrom being forced into marriage and underage sex.
"That's my bottom line on this," Perry said in a story for thenewspaper's online edition.
He also warned members of the Fundamentalist Church of JesusChrist of Latter Day Saints that child sex abuse won't be toleratedand even suggested that followers of the renegade Mormon sect maywant to leave the state.
"If you are going to conduct yourself that way, we are going toprosecute you," Perry said. "If you don't want to be prosecuted forthose activities, then maybe Texas is not the place you need toconsider calling home."
Willie Jessop, a Utah-based FLDS elder, said Perry's remarkswere shocking, particularly given a Texas Supreme Court ruling thatforced this week's return of 440 sect children on the grounds thatChild Protective Services provided scant evidence that the childrenwere in danger.
"It's an outrage that he should even make such gross and broadallegations," Jessop said. "He's listening to people that tell liesabout the FLDS."
FLDS officials have accused the state of persecuting sectmembers for their religious beliefs.
Texas authorities raided the sprawling compound near EldoradoApril 3 after three calls to a domestic abuse hot line, purportedlyfrom a 16-year-old mother living at the sect's Yearning For Zionranch who was being abused by her middle-age husband. The calls arenow being investigated as a hoax.
Perry said based on the information state authorities had at thetime "they acted with the best interest of those children."
"If responsibility needs to be taken for (court edicts) sayingthat we stepped across some legal line, I'll certainly take thatresponsibility," the governor said. "I am substantially lessinterested in these fine legal lines that we're discussing than Iam about these children's welfare, that's where my focus is. That'swhere CPS' focus is."
Jessop, who has insisted that children at the ranch were notmistreated, has sidestepped questions about underage marriages atthe YFZ ranch. But he did announce earlier this week that thechurch would no longer sanction marriages of any girl under thelegal age of consent in the state where she lives.
Though the children have been returned, a criminal investigationis ongoing.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.