Attys: Texas Polygamists May Recant
By CHRIS KAHN,Associated Press Writer AP - 28 minutes ago
PHOENIX - Polygamist sect members who were moved to a Texas compound from their longtime homes along the Utah-Arizona line were hand-picked for their fierce loyalty to leader Warren Jeffs, and that allegiance may be a stumbling block for law enforcement, authorities say.
Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, transferred people to Eldorado, Texas, to escape growing government scrutiny on the sect's base in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.
"This was Warren Jeffs' all-star cast," said Goddard, who has been investigating the sect since 2004. "They had the strongest sense of obedience."
As a result, their extreme devotion could make it hard on Texas authorities as they push for prosecutions, said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
"All these girls are taught from the cradle not to trust anybody from the outside," Shurtleff said. "Especially the government. We're the beast. We're the devil."
Authorities raided the Eldorado ranch April 3 after a girl from the clan made a whispered telephone call for help to a family violence shelter. Texas has since taken legal custody of 416 children on suspicions that they were being sexually and physically abused.
Jeffs, who was convicted last year in Utah of being an accomplice to rape, wanted "to isolate and perhaps purify the sect from any kind of outside influences," Goddard said.
Eldorado "is the most concentrated version of this particular style of life," he said.
Prosecutors in Arizona and Utah struggled for years to gain the trust of witnesses in abuse cases, but many young girls still refused to speak out.
"We've had them come out and make statements, and then they disappear, or they recant," Shurtleff said.
The FLDS split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more than a century ago when the mainstream Mormon Church renounced polygamy. The Mormon Church excommunicates members who practice plural marriage.
Until recently, Arizona and Utah authorities had left the FLDS communities in Hildale and Colorado City alone.
The last time Arizona officials focused their attention on the FLDS homeland was a notorious raid in 1953. That action turned into a public relations debacle as pictures circulated of children being pulled from their mothers. Afterward, authorities left the FLDS to police themselves.
However, Goddard started talking with Shurtleff about the FLDS in 2002 shortly after he was elected, his spokesman said.
Arizona officials put up a billboard in Colorado City with a toll-free number for young women who felt abused. They got rid of local police officers, who had pledged loyalty to Jeffs, and opened an office in the community manned by Mohave County officers.
The Arizona Board of Education took over the Colorado City school system and Utah officials cut off a major source of assets from the sect's United Effort Plan trust, which was estimated to contain as much as $114 million.
"We were increasing the pressure," Goddard said. "That's when they started this escape to Texas."
In 2005, news started circulating about a new FLDS community that was being built on 1,700 acres in Eldorado.
FLDS leaders said publicly at the time they weren't expecting any apocalyptic event or mass exodus to Texas. But former FLDS member Flora Jessop, 38, said she heard a different story from family members who made it to the Texas compound. Eldorado, Jessop said, was to make up for the failures Jeffs perceived in Colorado City and Hildale.
"Warren thought it was there were too many unfaithful people in Colorado City," Jessop said. "So he started the culling, if you will."
"He started moving all the most faithful to Texas so that God would be able to lift them up while he swept the evil wicked outsiders off the face of the Earth."
Following his Utah conviction, Jeffs is in jail in Arizona while awaiting trial on four counts of incest, four counts of sexual contact with a minor, one of sexual conduct with a minor and one of conspiracy to conduct sexual conduct with a minor. The charges predate the Eldorado raid.
Strange how these men consider it nothing to teach the underage girls they are sexually abusing, I mean marrying, not to trust the government, and yet they work outside jobs and bring the money into the cult. Notice, the restrictions imposed are primarily on the girls. This is how you show your love and obedience--allow middle age men to marry you at 13, rape you, and then tell you it is the will of God.
How appropriate that the Pope is coming to the US this next week. He should feel right at home. Maybe he will come to the defense of his Christian brothers and claim the media is persecuting and overstating the sexual abuse of children, as he did five years ago when defending Bernard Law. But they sure do not mind taking our money without any taxation and telling us that we are committing murder when we have an abortion--after all, if you abort the fetus, they will not be able to molest and marry off the little one before they are too old to realize what happened to them.
Just how hypocritical is the FLDS? They not only enjoyed using little girls for their sexual pleasure, but contemplated mass suicide if they were caught.
Polygamist Sect Encouraged Fear
Children At Texas Compound Were Told That The Outside World Is Hostile And Immoral
ELDORADO, Texas, April 11, 2008
(CBS/AP) All their lives, the girls in the polygamist sect in the West Texas desert were told that the outside world was hostile and immoral, and that venturing beyond the brilliant white limestone walls of their compound would consign them to eternal damnation.
Now, if the state gets its way, hundreds of the girls could be put in foster homes, in what could be a wrenching cultural adjustment that may require intensive counseling.
"What they are up against is having to deprogram an entire community," said Margaret Cooke, who left the sect with seven of her eight children near the end of 1994. The children "are so naive and they have been sheltered to the point that they don't even trust their own judgment."
Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for the state Children's Protective Services, said the agency is working with mental health and other experts to make the children's transition as easy as possible.
Meanwhile, in court papers unsealed Friday, authorities said they found a "cyanide poisoning document" in their search of the compound in the town of Eldorado. But the 80-page list of items seized gave no further explanation.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said the document consisted of pages torn out of a first-aid book on how to treat cyanide poisoning. But she said she didn't know why the sect would have such information on hand.
Child welfare officials seized more than 400 children, most of them girls, in the raid on the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, saying the youngsters were in danger of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
The renegade Mormon splinter group requires girls at puberty to enter into polygamous marriages with much older men and produce children, authorities say. The sect also teaches children to fear the outside world, including the very authorities who removed them until a court hearing Thursday that will help determine their future.
"You're taught to fear everyone and everything," said Cooke, herself a 16-year-old bride.
The children and the 139 women who followed them voluntarily out of the compound are being so secretive that child welfare officials are having trouble sorting out who the youngsters' parents are.
The state is now scrambling to find shelter for the women and children, reports CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan.
Most of the children are the offspring of the faith's inner circle - including its now-imprisoned prophet, Warren Jeffs - who were born since construction began on the compound in 2003, or were hand-selected by Jeffs to come to the enclave, which the sect regards as part of Zion on Earth
In 2003 and 2004, Jeffs, the spiritual leader of an estimated 6,000 followers in two adjoining towns along the Utah-Arizona line, plucked children under the age of 6 to bring to Texas without their parents, former sect member Isaac Wyler said.
"Over age 6 they were too contaminated for the world to be of use to God," said Wyler, who still lives in Colorado City, Ariz., and has 39 siblings. "He picked the ones that would be the most obedient, the ones that would be qualified to go to Zion."
Authorities raided the Eldorado ranch April 3 after a girl from the clan made a whispered telephone call for help to a family violence shelter. The 16-year-old, who indicated she was a few weeks' pregnant, said her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her. The girl has not yet been identified among the 416 children and may not even be among them.
In the call, the girl said that sect members warned her that if she ever left, outsiders would hurt her and force her to cut her hair, wear makeup and have sex with many men.
Most of the sect's children have never attended public schools or worn modern clothing. The girls wear long, pioneer-style dresses and keep their long hair pinned up in braids.
In their search of the compound, police uncovered dozens of journals and other documents that contain birth, marriage and other genealogical records. That may help social workers match children with their parents.
According to tax documents, the ranch paid more than $400,000 in taxes in 2006, reports Sreenivasan. In addition to a cement plant and cheese factory, the hundreds of women and children could be another source of income.
The hearing next Thursday will determine whether the state gets full custody of the children or whether they can return to the compound in Eldorado.
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Of course, this is a slight violation of Christian doctrine against suicide, the one unforgivable sin according to scripture, but it does allow the pedophiles to escape worldly punishment. Such are the pains older men will go to. And yes, it is about older men having sex with girls--btw, the girl in the picture at the top of the post was one of many pre-teen girls married at the Alamo Gloryland Church in Ft. Smith, Arizona. To put this another way, when was the last time anyone witnessed a female pedophile church scandal or 50 year old women marrying 12 year old boys in any religion? I seriously doubt these older men marry these girls because they are looking for a more nimble bridge partner.