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August 1, 2014

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Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs hospitalized in Texas

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Tony Gutierrez / AP

In this Aug. 3, 2011, file photo, polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs, left, arrives at the Tom Green County Courthouse escorted by a law enforcement officer in San Angelo, Texas.

GALVESTON, Texas — Warren Jeffs, the leader of a polygamist sect who's serving a life sentence in prison, was hospitalized for a medical condition that authorities say is not life-threatening.

Jeffs was receiving medical care Monday at Hospital Galveston, a facility operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice southeast of Houston. Jeffs, the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was sentenced to life in prison in Texas for sexually assaulting two of his child brides, ages 12 and 15.

Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst said Jeffs was in stable condition after being admitted March 11. Citing medical privacy laws, Hurst declined to say why the 58-year-old Jeffs was hospitalized. Hurst declined any further comment.

Jeffs was convicted in August 2011. Prosecutors said he had two dozen underage wives in all. He is not eligible for parole until 2038.

Jeffs has been trying to lead the FLDS from jail. The sect's base is along the Utah-Arizona border.

The FLDS practices polygamy, a legacy of early Mormon church teachings that held plural marriage brought exaltation in heaven. The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice in 1890 as a condition of Utah's statehood and ex-communicates members who still engage in polygamy.

In January, a state district judge in Texas ordered the forfeiture of a West Texas ranch owned by Jeff's group. The Schleicher County Sheriff's Office was authorized to enter the Yearning for Zion Ranch, south of San Angelo, and inventory the property in preparation for it being turned over to the state.

The Texas Attorney General's Office filed to seize the ranch in 2012, citing numerous sexual assaults of children committed there. The state has prosecuted 12 male members of the polygamist sect, including Jeffs.

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