Dispute over church loyalty forces alleged eviction of woman in Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday April 21, 2011
Two brothers of jailed polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs are being sought by Arizona police after allegedly evicting a leadership rival’s wife who refused to renounce her husband, authorities confirmed Thursday.
Mohave County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Hoggard in Arizona said that he is seeking to serve Alan Jeffs, 61, with a protective order, and Lyle Jeffs, 51, with an injunction against harassment.
Ruth Steed, 26, is married to William E. Jessop, who last month sought to take legal control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from Warren Jeffs. Court records show Steed sought the court protection after her loyalties to the church were challenged and she refused to leave her husband.
Court papers said she was then told to leave her residence in Colorado City, Ariz. [...]
Police reports obtained by The Associated Press showed Steed and her children had been living in a basement room of a home occupied by Alan Jeffs for about four months. Steed called her husband to the home when she was threatened with eviction. Jeffs then called police and had him arrested for trespassing, officers said.
The documents also said that Steed returned from the court to find all of her belongings in the yard.
The latest legal dispute comes as Warren Jeffs’ southern Utah-based church appeared to be in turmoil.
Jessop, 41, filed papers last month to take over the church’s Corporation of the President from Warren Jeffs, 55, who is in Texas awaiting trial on sexual-assault and bigamy charges related to alleged underage marriages. Leaders loyal to Warren Jeffs, including his brother Lyle, are fighting that claim, and the power struggle will likely move to a courtroom.
Jessop’s arrest wasn’t the only disturbance in the twin towns last week. During the weekend, a cache of books meant for a library operated by a non-FLDS member were stolen and some were burned in an apparent bonfire.
The incidents come as FLDS leaders battle for legal control of the communal property trust that holds nearly all the homes and land in Hildale and Colorado City. The state of Utah took over the trust in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement by FLDS trustees, who didn’t respond to lawsuits.
This year, a federal judge ruled the takeover was unconstitutional and, earlier this month, signed a preliminary injunction returning temporary control of the approximately $110 million trust to the FLDS.
But attorneys for the state protested, saying control of the trust shouldn’t be returned to leaders who had previously used it to evict people from their homes. Judges at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay blocking the hand-over last week, and on Monday, they denied an FLDS motion to reconsider the stay.
As for the book thought to have been burned: they were found Tuesday at Deseret Industries in Cedar City.
Eight to 10 pallets of books stacked waist high were discovered at the Deseret Industries store, and the books appeared to be in good shape, said Stephanie Colgrove, who oversees the library in Colorado City, a town that is home to the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
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