Trustees must have true respect for laws on marriage
If you think the answer is obvious, you are in for a surprise.
Polygamists are on the list of people a Utah court is considering as replacements for Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints “prophet” Warren Jeffs and his cronies.
One of those on the replacement list is Winston Blackmore, former leader of a polygamist cult in Bountiful, British Columbia.
The Vancouver Sun says he is being investigated by Canadian authorities for sexual exploitation of underage girls.
It is no secret that Jeffs’ Arizona-Utah cult practices polygamy by inflicting the robust sexual appetites of older men on teenage girls who are raised to “keep sweet” and do what men tell them.
Polygamists have been perpetrating these crimes for decades while law enforcement played dumb.
About two years ago, Justice saddled up an exceedingly slow horse and rode out toward the scene of the crime. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff began talking about the outrages.
This year, an investigator for the Mohave County attorney got enough evidence to win several indictments against some of the suspected child rapists in the community, including Jeffs, who disappeared when it became clear the law was coming after him at a slow walk.
Before he went underground, Jeffs bought more than 1,000 acres in Texas and set up a compound for some of his pet followers.
This property is not held in the cult’s trust, but it was likely bought with trust money, says Bruce Wisan, a Salt Lake City CPA who was named by the court to inventory the trust.
The trust owns nearly all the property in Colorado City and Hildale. That resource is the target of lawsuits by former cult members, which means current cult members may lose their homes to pay for the cult’s sins.
Trust assets may also be sold off to pay mounting legal costs. Yet Wisan and others say no current cult members put their names on the list of proposed trustees.
To some, naming polygamists from other groups, such as Blackmore, is a way to represent the interests of Jeffs’ cult members.
To us, that’s twisted logic. The Utah court last week delayed naming new trustees until October and requested biographical and other information on all the proposed trustees.
If good sense prevails, the judge will see that it makes more sense to appoint knowledgeable people who have demonstrated a respect for the laws against polygamy.
Former state Sen. Linda Binder and Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson are on the list the court is considering.
So is former cult member Flora Jessop, who understands the secretive culture that Jeffs still rules.
They would make better guardians of a trust that, in addition to being Jeffs’ former piggy bank and the deep-pocket target of lawsuits and lawyers fees, represents the life work of people trapped in a cult where justice is long overdue.