Investigator attempts to serve court summons, copy of suit to Warren Jeffs
HILDALE — A private investigator attempted Thursday to serve a summons and a copy of a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Prophet Warren Jeffs.
Sam Brower was hired as an investigator by the firm representing the plaintiff, Brent Jeffs. The plaintiff, 21, alleged in the lawsuit that Warren Jeffs and two of his brothers sexually abused him as a child, according to a court document. Brent Jeffs, the nephew of the FLDS prophet, seeks an unspecified amount in the lawsuit.
Upon the initial filing of the complaint, Warren Jeffs denied the claims of sexual abuse in a written statement issued through his lawyer, Rodney Parker.
The FLDS church is based in the twin communities of Hildale and Colorado City and is led by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet. The FLDS church constitutes the largest polygamist group in North America.
Brower said he had already given the papers to an individual at the new polygamist compound in Texas, where the church built what members say is a retreat for the faithful near Eldorado. However, Brower said he wanted to serve the papers at Warren Jeffs’ Utah address.
Upon approaching the gated cluster of homes, Brower circled the city block — filled with homes and other buildings used by the prophet and his family — looking for an appropriate door on the outer fence to knock on.
There was only one door that appeared to have a doorbell, and Brower rang and waited for about an hour, purposefully walking under what he believed to be a camera so anyone who might be inside the home could see it was him.
Brower feels that he’ll never physically hand the summons to Warren Jeffs himself, mostly because he said Jeffs was a coward and would continue to hide.
In the state of Utah, Brower only must give the summons to someone of an appropriate age at the residence.
The firm representing the plaintiff apparently sent the summons by certified mail, but Brower said recipients rejected that mail. The summons notifies the defendant of the claims against them and provides the defendant with 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.
Brower will continue to try, documenting each attempt with a video camera until he feels he diligently attempted to serve the defendant, at which time he said the plaintiffs can go to the judge, show due diligence, and hopefully the case can then get started.
However, Brower said it doesn’t make much difference whether he serves the documents or not — he’s convinced Warren Jeffs’ attorney will drag out the case and fight the merit of having Warren Jeffs appear in court.
The lawsuit also names the church and the United Effort Plan and Trust, the financial arm of the church, as defendants.
“The church and President Jeffs believe that the filing of this action is part of a continuing effort by enemies of the church to defame it and its institutions,” according to a July 29 Associated Press story, which quoted from a statement by Parker.
“President Jeffs is confident that ultimately these allegations will be shown to be a total fabrication.”
Parker, a longtime attorney for the FLDS church and the person who deals with media inquiries regarding the church and its members, was unreachable in a Thursday evening call.
The FLDS church traces its roots to Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS church officially denounced polygamy in 1890 and now excommunicates those practicing the lifestyle.