God's Work

Legal Problems of the FLDS

In the last few years, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its prophet Warren Jeffs have faced increasing law enforcement scrutiny and mounting legal woes. Some of the recent lowlights:

July 2004: Jeffs' nephew, 21-year-old Brent Jeffs, files a civil suit against three of his uncles, including Jeffs, alleging that while he was a child he was repeatedly sodomized by the three men, who called the abuse "God's work," and threatened him with eternal damnation if he told anyone. Jeffs is seeking monetary damages from the FLDS' United Effort Plan trust.

August 2004: A group of young men known as the "Lost Boys" file suit against Jeffs, the church, and the UEP trust, claiming that they were victims of the church's "secret, cruel, and unlawful practice of systematic excommunication of adolescent and young adult males for trivial reasons or no reason at all, in order to reduce competition for wives." Neither Jeffs nor the church has responded to the lawsuit, making it likely that the Lost Boys will prevail on a default judgment.

May 2005: The Arizona Attorney General's Office executes search warrants seeking records from the Colorado City Unified School District, whose board and administrators are all high-ranking FLDS members. The Attorney General's Office is investigating allegations that the CCUSD is actually funneling funds through the school system and into the pockets of the FLDS leadership.

May-June 2005: Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff wins a restraining order against the UEP trust, freezing its assets in an attempt to stop Jeffs and his trustees from liquidating assets and moving funds from the trust and into private accounts. Shurtleff was also successful in having the UEP trustees removed and having an accountant appointed as fiduciary until new trustees can be named.

June 9, 2005: Warren Jeffs indicted in Mohave Co., Ariz., on two counts of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor and sexual conduct with a minor for his role in arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 28-year-old married man. Jeffs' whereabouts are unknown.

June 28, 2005: A federal magistrate in Arizona adds one federal count of unlawful flight to Jeffs' indictment, prompting the FBI to join the hunt for Jeffs.

July 2005: Eight other FLDS men are indicted in Mohave Co. on similar charges. One of the eight also faces a second-degree felony sexual assault charge. All eight turned themselves in to authorities and subsequently posted bond. Also this month, Mohave Co. officials announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to Jeffs' apprehension.

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