A court in Texas has sentenced a polygamist sect leader thought to have taken around 30 wives to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage girls.
Warren Jeffs, 55, who heads a breakaway Mormon sect based in Texas, was found guilty last week of forcing two girls aged 12 and 14 into "spiritual marriages" and fathering a child with one of them.
The charges against him stem from a raid on his sect's ranch in Texas in 2008 when authorities temporarily took custody of more than 400 children on suspicion of sexual abuse.
Jeffs' sect, called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, believes polygamy is the path to heaven and is thought to have 10,000 followers in North America.
Prosecutors reportedly alleged that he expelled dozens of his group's roughly 10,000 followers and broke up hundreds of families after fathers refused to hand over their daughters.
The official Mormon church discontinued the practice of polygamy under pressure from the federal government in 1890.
compiled from agency reports