Authorities in the western state of Texas on Monday began taking DNA samples from hundreds of children taken from a polygamist Mormon sect. Authorities will use DNA tests to sort out family relationships in the sect.
State District Judge Barbara Walther heard 21 hours of testimony before deciding Friday to keep the 416 children in protective custody while investigations into abuse allegations continue.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services says young girls in the sect were conditioned to have sex with much older men, and boys were groomed to marry underage girls once the boys reached adulthood.
Authorities say a number of the teen girls removed from the Yearn For Zion Ranch are pregnant. They also say children in the sect were physically abused.
Authorities raided the ranch on April 3 in response to a complaint about alleged abuse there.
Polygamy is illegal in the United States. The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon faith, renounced the practice over a century ago and distances itself from the few thousand people who still practice multiple marriages.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.