As a torrent of purported revelations flows from imprisoned FLDS cult leader Warren Jeffs, there are new allegations that underage girls are being secretly held by his followers, possibly for sexual purposes.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Wednesday he intends to look into the claim.
“I want to be involved in finding houses of hiding,” Shurtleff said, “I believe there’s still half-dozen to a dozen places around the country where girls are still being held. And I’m very concerned about that.”
Although Shurtleff’s spokesman later said it’s premature to call it an investigation, Shurtleff said he wants to pursue the allegation.
“The worry is that there are still children being trafficked in potential sexual crimes or being held for the prophet for that purpose. We don’t know exactly. But that is a concern and that is something I intend to look into.”
The latest allegation comes in a context of rising tension in Jeffs’ principle community, the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Utah’s Hildale in Washington County. According to former members and outside critics, Jeffs set a deadline of Dec. 31 for members to demonstrate their righteousness. They were reportedly ordered to undergo intense personal interviews, to pledge loyalty to Jeffs, to obey new strict rules about personal behavior and to turn over large amounts of money.
As the new year dawned, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people were reportedly told they are not righteous enough to attend regular meetings of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
Jeffs is considered a prophet from God by his followers. Last August he was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his church deemed “spiritual marriages.”
Naturally none of Jeffs’ empty threats have become reality, including his prediction that his prison walls would crumble by the New Year.
Jeffs also gets personal with ex-followers.
In one of his documents Warren Jeffs singles out former FLDS member Dan Fisher, who left the cult 17 years ago.
A dentist, he founded a company called Ultradent and he’s used some of his wealth to start The Diversity Foundation which helps others escape the FLDS community and rebuild their lives outside Jeffs’ control. [...]
He said Jeffs has ramped up an old tactic, dividing his community into two camps. The most righteous are exalted. The less righteous, the so-called ‘Evil Ward,’ are being stripped of privileges.
“They’re not actually kicked out,” Fischer said. “They’re actually on probation, if you will.” He said it’s a tactic designed to win members’ loyalty by using fear as the driving force.
“For those that are devout,” Fischer said, “they’re getting more solid. The more he scares them, the more the frenzy goes up. The more the mysticism goes up, the more panicky they get, the more certainly committed they become that they must do whatever Warren Jeffs says.
“I think there’s a significant number, however, who are beginning to say, ‘Enough’s enough. This is craziness.’”
Yet more of Warren Jeffs’ apocalyptic revelations from God arrived at the Utah Attorney General’s Office today. Dated Dec. 11, 15 and 19, they again raise the specter of “mob rule” and say Cincinnati (by the way, not too far from my own alma matter of Miami University) “soon be a destroyed city.”
You can read Jeffs’ latest efforts for yourself.