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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Senator Dorgan 

Whatever one may think about Mormonism, its beliefs are tame when compared to the fundamentalist offshoots. I wish to emphasize the word "tame." You may not want to read this post:

Prophet. Religious zealot. Dangerous extremist.

These are some of the words used to describe Warren Jeffs since the 50-year-old leader of a polygamous sect was put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list recently alongside such figures as Osama bin Laden.

Jeffs, head of a renegade Mormon splinter group called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is accused of arranging marriages between underage girls and older men. He is charged with child sexual abuse in Arizona and being an accomplice to statutory rape in Utah.

Jeffs exercises extraordinary control over 10,000 or so followers who live mostly in the side-by-side towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Church dissidents say that during Jeffs' four-year rule, the number of underage marriages — some to girls as young as 13 — escalated into the hundreds. Families have been fractured in the process.

According to those expelled from the community, young men are sent away so as not to compete for brides; older men are cast out for alleged disobedience, and their wives and children are reassigned by Jeffs to new husbands and fathers....

The sect adheres to the early doctrine of Mormon church founder Joseph Smith, who advocated plural marriage. The mainline Mormon church renounced polygamy in 1890 and denies any connection to such fundamentalist sects....

Jeffs assumed leadership in 2002 after the death of his 98-year-old father, Rulon Jeffs, who had 65 children by several women. Jeffs took nearly all of his father's widows as his own wives. He is said to have at least 40 wives and nearly 60 children.

The sect has long practiced the custom of arranged marriages, but dissidents say young girls were rarely married off until Jeffs came to power.

Jeffs has prophesied that the world was about to come to an end and that the second coming of Jesus Christ was at hand, only to blame church members for their lack of faith when the events failed to occur, according to excommunicated members....

Jeffs has demanded church members add $1,000 monthly to the tithe, or 10 percent, that they already pay, leaving many families living in squalor, while his own family lived well in a block-long walled compound of mansions in Hildale.

He has also ordered followers to pull their kids out of the public schools and teach them at home; banned athletics, television and all books except Scripture; and enforced a long-standing dress code that requires women to wear long pioneer-style dresses and men to button their shirt collars.

The community's youngsters rarely attend school beyond the eighth grade. Instead they go to work, the boys usually in construction, the girls at home, or in family-run businesses, such as the local dairy or food co-op....

Jeffs is said to wield great influence with city leaders, police and a local judge, most of whom are members of the church. Some say close associates, or "Warrenites," serve as his spies, reporting indiscretions by members of the community back to Jeffs.

According to the Washington County website, most of the city leaders have the last name of Jessop.

City Council
Joseph Jessop
Harold Peine
Fred Jessop
Joseph I. Barlow, Sr.
Dan Jessop

Susan Jessop

David Zitting

Susan Jessop

Geremiah Barlow

Mayor Zitting has been quoted on NPR:

The FLDS Church, as it is known, has long dominated twin towns on the Utah-Arizona border and now has a new settlement outside a rural town in Texas. Most people in the sister communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., believe salvation depends on each man having at least three wives and as many children as possible.

"I have never seen a community where there are families that have more love in them, more love for their children, and more order and organization," says Hildale Mayor David Zitting, an FLDS member. "There's no place in America, in any community, that has the type of situation like this community has."

In its May 12 edition, the Los Angeles Times talked about the love shown by this community:

Court records, undisclosed investigative reports and interviews by The Times over the last year show that church authorities flout state and federal laws and systematically deny rights and freedoms, especially to women and children....

Among sect members, girls as young as 13 are forced into marriage, sexual abuse is rampant, rape is covered up and child molesters are shielded by religious authorities and law enforcement.

Boys are thrown out of town, abandoned like unwanted pets by the side of the road and forcibly ostracized from their families to reduce competition among the men for multiple wives.

Children routinely leave school at age 11 or 12 to work at hazardous construction jobs. Boys can be seen piloting dump trucks, backhoes, forklifts and other heavy equipment.

Girls work at home, trying to keep order in enormous families with multiple mothers and dozens of children who often eat in shifts around picnic tables.

Wives are threatened with mental institutions if they fail to "keep sweet," or obedient, for their husbands....

Some who fled the community in recent years are coming forward to tell investigators harrowing tales of repression and abuse inflicted behind a facade of pious devotion to faith and family:

• Brent Jeffs reported being sodomized repeatedly at age 5 by the principal of his school — an uncle who would later become religious leader of the community — current fugitive Warren Jeffs.

• Sara Hammon said her father, a prominent religious leader with 19 wives, routinely molested her, even sliding his hand up her dress while on his deathbed.

• More than 400 boys, some as young as 13, have been thrown out of town for church infractions such as wearing short-sleeved shirts or talking to girls. Some, referred to locally as "Lost Boys," were dumped along the road with only the clothes they were wearing, and banned from contact with their families. Many of the displaced boys recently filed suit in state court against the church....

Former police employees and state investigators say officers either ignore molestation allegations or send them to the church rather than to outside prosecutors.

Paul Musser, a former dispatcher for the Colorado City police, was eyewitness to the daily activity of the station.

"Sex crimes were handled very delicately, very discreetly," he said. "They were taken to the prophet."

Sam Roundy, a polygamist and former Colorado City police chief, moonlighted as a church security officer. He told investigators from the police standards boards of Arizona and Utah who were evaluating his training that between 20 and 25 times he failed to report child sex abuse cases as required by law.

As a result, state child welfare agencies were often unaware of molestation allegations and unable to help or intervene on behalf of possible victims. Another result was the reluctance of victims to call police in the first place.

"I never once considered going to the police," said Sara Hammon, 30, who told of enduring years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father and brothers.

"Going to the police would have been going against the whole town. Everyone was [molesting]. The church never said it was all right, but it was treated nonchalantly."...

In 2001, Dan Barlow Jr., son of the Colorado City mayor, was charged with 14 counts of sexual abuse, accused of repeatedly molesting his five daughters, ages 12 to 19, over several years. According to the police report, Barlow confessed to the crimes.

Letters begging for mercy poured into Ekstrom's office in Kingman, Ariz. The daughters expressed love for their father and asked that he not get any prison time. They also asked that they not be required to testify against him.

FLDS member LeRoy Fischer said Barlow shouldn't be jailed because he was the only locksmith in town and "a prison sentence would only add an additional burden to society."

Floyd Barlow, the defendant's son, said his abused sisters "look happy" and could get emotional help from their mother if necessary.

Barlow was allowed to plead guilty to a single, lesser charge of sexual abuse, and was sentenced to 120 days in jail — most of which was suspended. He served 13 days.

Prosecutors said they had few options, and blamed shoddy police work — a one-page report — reluctant witnesses and numerous pleas for leniency.

"You have to play the hand you are dealt. I could have put him on trial anyway and then lost everything," said Matt Smith, the current Mohave County attorney who prosecuted the case. "I got at least probation, and he is a sex offender."...

On both sides of the state line, lenient sentences for sex abuse cases are a common complaint.

Sometimes the leniency shocked even defense attorneys. Jim McGhee, attorney for Dan Barlow Jr., was stunned by his client's 13-day sentence.

"I saw it as a victory, but the fact that he spent 13 days in jail for molesting five daughters is pretty amazing," he said. "The fact that the judge went along with it is one of the most surprising things."

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss, who presided over the case, said it was really just "a little bit of breast touching."...

Brent Jeffs, 23, attended a private FLDS school as a child, and said most of his education consisted of religious lectures by his uncle, then-Principal Warren Jeffs. Yet that was the least of Brent Jeffs' problems. At age 5, he said, Jeffs routinely led him into a downstairs bathroom and raped him. Brent Jeffs recently filed suit in a Salt Lake City state court against his uncle and the FLDS church, claiming they knew Jeffs was a pedophile but put him in charge of children anyway. The nephew is seeking unspecified punitive damages....

Throughout Utah and Arizona, FLDS boys illegally work heavy construction. Polygamist crews are notorious for undercutting rivals, working more cheaply than even illegal immigrants. Injuries are common.

In one case, four underage boys employed by a Colorado City company suffered broken hips, knees and head injuries after falling off a church roof while working in Utah.

However, the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Utah Labor Commission has fined few companies for employing children. The division's compliance manager, Tori Burns, conceded, "It's probably just a drop in the bucket."

Arizona labor commission Director Orlando Macias said his inspectors, who do routine checks around the state, had never been to Colorado City. He asked a reporter where the town was located.

Social service agencies charged with protecting children often were unaware of child endangerment or abuse allegations because, as police admitted, officers did not routinely report them.

The head of Utah's Division of Child and Family Services, Richard Anderson, said the best bet for an abused girl in the community was "to find someone she can trust."

That's tough in a tightly run theocracy where girls are taught to obey males and interaction with the outside world is largely forbidden....

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) once visited the FLDS church in Hildale and played the organ. He later defended the group when asked about its alleged abuses.

"All I can say is I know people in Hildale who are polygamists who are very fine people. You come and show me the evidence of children being abused there, and I'll get involved," he told local reporters. "Bring the evidence to me."

Through a spokesman, Hatch declined to be interviewed for this story. Staff aide Peter Carr said allegations of FLDS abuse were "a matter for local and federal prosecutors."

In his successful 1991 bid for Arizona governor, Fife Symington wrote an open letter to the residents of Colorado City concerning their "family-oriented lifestyles," vowing never to do anything to "upset or question" their religion.

"Our policy was one of noninterference," he said recently. "The advice I got when running was this was an issue I wanted to stay away from."

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

The problem is that people dont realize that the current Mormon (LDS) church believes and treats women this way minus the polygamy. It is the same church without the polygamy. Women cant get to heavan without being married to a man. The only reason they stopped polygamy was because of the law of the land. They believe they can still practice polygamy in heavan and have as many wives as they wish. A woman can only be sealed to one man but a man can be sealed to as many wives as he wishes to have. Women are taught to obey their husbands and if they disobey him they are disobeying God. So her goal in life is to get married have kids and act happy and listen to her husband. I have an LDS friend who is now divorced but when she went into the bishop she was told to be a better wife and her husband would treat her better and not want to sleep around with other women or abuse her children. Her one daughter was abused sexually and it was never dealt with but swept under the rug like it never happened. Its the same as the FDLS church without the polygamy! How can this happen in America? Where is the goverment? And Romney a Mormon wants to be president? It looks nice on the outside-clean cut missionaries, family values etc.. but take a good look-it is rotten on the inside!
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