With God On Their Side

The decision to abruptly remove 437 children from a fundamentalist Mormon compound in Eldorado sparked the largest custody battle in U.S. history. But now that the last child’s case has been settled and all the kids are back home, a question still lingers: What really happened on the Yearning for Zion Ranch?
With God On Their Side
Photograph by Sarah Wilson

UPDATEIn July 2010, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Warren Jeffs’ two convictions on charges of rape as an accomplice, citing faulty jury instructions. In November 2010, Jeffs was extradited to Texas to face charges that allegedly occurred on the YFZ ranch, and in September 2011, he was found guilty of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. A second trial, for bigamy, is scheduled for October 3, 2011.September 7, 2011

August 6, 2009, seemed to be a day like any other on the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Recent rains had doused the flower beds, vegetable garden, and fruit orchard, and rosy-cheeked women in full-length, pastel-colored dresses were crouched on their hands and knees, pulling out weeds and setting them in little piles. In the dairy, a slight young woman listened to hymns as she stirred cheese in a large metal vat. The carpentry shop was abuzz with men in long-sleeved collared shirts sawing wood to make cabinets, chairs, and cradles. Boys bounced down

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