The Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is a cult that broke away from the main LDS(Mormon) Church in 1890.One of the conditions of attaining statehood was the repudiation of the custom of polygamy. The FLDS has maintained the practise in spite of it being a crime in both the US and Canada.
Central to the FLDS belief system is the faith that god speaks through the leader or prophet. Since 2002 that lone leader has been Warren Jeffs. He has consolidated his power over his believers who reside mainly in Utah, Arizona and Texas. There are about 7500 followers in the towns of Colorado City and Hildale which straddle the Utah Arizona state lines.
There have long been rumours about abuses in the colonies, but after Jeffs attained power conditions for the faithful deteriorated further. Family men have been kicked out of the towns and their wives and children assigned to men more favourable to the prophet. Because all property is held in a church trust, people kicked out of the colonies leave with nothing and are forbidden to contact their former friends and family.
When Jeffs’ father died, he married 20 of his stepmothers and assigned others to men of his choosing. He had a reputation for watching out for young, beautiful girls and marrying them as “spiritual brides”. His nephew sued him for raping him when the nephew was five years old.
Some of the wives escaped the colonies and began to tell the public about abuses. An investigator was brought onto the scene to find out about the “lost boys”. Those are young boys and men who are expelled from the colonies never to return. It is obvious that a polygamous system cannot function with an even number of men and women. Warren Jeffs alone is reputed to have married over 80 women. A photograph in the book Prophet’s Prey by investigator Sam Brower, shows Jeffs posing with 58 of his wives.
Law enforcement people tried on several occasions to serve subpoenas but Jeffs always seemed to be not at home. The FBI put him on the Ten Most Wanted list and he was apprehended. In his possession at the time was a tape recording of him raping 12 old Merrianne Jessop. The offense took place in Texas and he was charged with her sexual assault as well as the assault of another under age girl. That got him a life sentence with no parole.
He is still able to control his cult. He does it by phone.
The town marshal and the City Manager of Hildale/Colorado City are currently embroiled in a federal court case that alleges that they aided and abetted crimes against non-church members.
According to the Justice Department, the Marshal's Office selectively enforces "laws and regulations against non-FLDS individuals on the basis of religion."
Just when you may think you’ve heard it all, information was leaked out in a child custody case that those men in the FLDS fold are no longer allowed to touch their wives, except to hold their hands while selected “seed bearers” impregnate them.
Most of the members of the cult are descended from two founding families. The inbreeding that has occurred has resulted in a formerly rare genetic disorder now firmly in place in the colonies. The defect results in microcephaly, major brain dysfunction, severe seizures and early death. It has been explained to the mothers as a test from god.
Courthouse News Service
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