SALT LAKE CITY – Prosecutors believe saliva samples, birth records and marriage certificates could prove allegations that some Colorado City, Ariz., men entered polygamous unions with young girls and then fathered their children, court documents show.
Eight Colorado City men were indicted last summer on charges of conspiracy and sexual conduct with a minor, felonies that have penalties of up to two years in prison.
Search warrants served May 24 on the homes of four of the men sought to obtain saliva samples for DNA testing from the men and their families that would “establish the paternity and maternity of the child and would tend to prove the existence of a sexual relationship between the (women) and the defendant,” probable cause statements say.
It is unknown if police, who served the warrants simultaneously on the homes of Dale Barlow, Donald Barlow, David Batemen and Vergel Jessop, obtained the DNA samples needed.
Telephone calls from the Associated Press seeking comment from Mohave County Attorney Matthew Smith and Sheriff Tom Sheahan, whose officers served the warrants, were not returned.
Attorney Bruce Griffen, the defense lawyer listed in court documents for all eight men, also did not return messages from the AP.
The eight men are believed to be members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that believes plural marriage guarantees their salvation in heaven. Most members of the FLDS church make their home in Colorado City or its sister city of Hildale, Utah, just across the state line.
The FLDS church has come under increasing scrutiny over the past few years for its practice of marrying teenage girls to much older men, the frequency of which reportedly escalated when Warren Jeffs took the reins of the church in 2002.
Former Utah police officer and FLDS member Rodney Holm served a year in jail for his 2003 conviction for bigamy and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor after entering into a “spiritual marriage” with Ruth Stubbs in 1988.