New investigations into FLDS Church members, prosecutor says

The Washington County (Utah) Attorney has a series of criminal investigations under way into members of Warren Jeffs’ polygamous church on the Utah-Arizona border, Ben Winslow reports at KSTU Fox 13.

“Law enforcement is interested in, and is investigating allegations of wrongdoing by members of the community out there,” Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap said in an interview with FOX 13.

While confirming he has a number of criminal investigations under way into members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, Belnap would not reveal what those investigations were for. However, he said he is not likely to pursue another case against Jeffs.

“The focus of my attention right now is not with Warren Jeffs,” Belnap told FOX 13. “And the reason for that is because there are plenty of other things to be focused on while he is sitting in prison on a life, plus 20 year sentence. It’s not the (best) use of our resources.”

Jeffs was one of 12 men indicted for crimes including child sexual assault, bigamy and performing an illegal marriage after an April 2008 law enforcement raid on the sect’s Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas to check on accusations of sexual assault.

WARREN JEFFS
Last August Warren Jeffs Warren Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his church deemed “spiritual marriages.”

Warren Jeffs is the leader and ‘prophet’ of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Though jailed, he still maintains his iron-fisted rule over the FLDS.

Media outlets affiliated with the LDS (Mormon) Church consistently refer to the FLDS as the Fundamentalist LDS Church.

The Mormon Church does not recognize members of the FLDS — theologically a sect of the Mormon Church — as Mormons. At the same time, members of the FLDS say that they are ‘Mormons, too’ — given that the FLDS and the LDS share a common Mormon history. [Details]

RAPE AS AN ACCOMPLISH CONVICTION OVERTURNED
In July, 2010 the Utah Supreme Court overturned Jeffs’ rape-as-an-accomplice on conviction on a technicality.

In a unanimous decision, justices found that jurors in the case were given improper instructions by Washington County Judge James Shumate before reaching their verdict that Jeffs contributed to the 2001 sexual assault of teenage victim Elissa Wall, then 14, by directing her marriage to an adult cousin.

Ben Winslow quotes Benlap as saying

authorities in Texas have begun sharing some of the billions of pages of evidence seized in the raid. FOX 13 reported last year on a spreadsheet that outlined hundreds of polygamous marriages — including some involving children — between FLDS members in Utah and Arizona. [...]

Washington County’s focus on FLDS Church members comes amid a number of investigations. Canadian authorities have said they are renewing their look at allegations of trafficking child brides across the U.S.-Canadian border, as well as polygamy itself. [...]

Research resources on the FLDS

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