The city of Hildale and three of its police officers are being sued by a former member of a polygamous sect who alleges his civil rights were violated when he was barred from his home and from visiting his father there.
The federal lawsuit filed by Andrew Chatwin names the city, Colorado City/Hildale Town Marshal Fred Barlow and deputies Jonathan Roundy and Helaman Barlow as defendants. The city was served with a complaint last week, while the officers were served Monday.
Chatwin is seeking a monetary award and “full and exclusive possession” of the home at 660 N. Willow St. Most property in the community belongs to the United Effort Plan Trust, a property trust set up by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets
The sect is based in Hildale and the adjoining town of Colorado City, Ariz. The church’s trust has been managed by court-appointed fiduciary Bruce R. Wisan since May 2005.
Hildale Mayor David Zitting said he was served with a copy of the suit on July 27.
“We’ve turned it over to our attorneys and insurance people and they are handling it,” he said.
If Chatwin prevails in his lawsuit, he would likely be granted similar status as other ex-FLDS members who gained lifetime rights to their homes in successful court battles.
“In my mind possession is a totally different legal right than ownership or title,” said Jeff Shields, Wisan’s attorney.
David Holdsworth, Chatwin’s attorney, didn’t return a phone call from The Salt Lake Tribune.
Chatwin filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Utah in April. He recently filed a second civil rights complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, alleging religious discrimination after being denied service at Big Dan’s Drive-In, a fast food restaurant in Colorado City.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office would not confirm or deny it has received the complaint, but Chatwin confirmed the filing.
Chatwin alleges that he, his wife Michelle and his brothers Michael and Isaac Wyler were refused service by Dan Steed, owner of the restaurant, in mid-July. Steed allegedly told the group that if he served them “normal” people – that is FLDS faithful – would stay away, Michelle Chatwin said.
“They know we live in town, they know who we are but they refuse to serve us because we’re not ‘normal,’ ” Michelle Chatwin said.
Steed asked them to leave and when they refused, called police. Deputy Roundy escorted them from the business and Steed turned off the lights and locked the doors, Michelle Chatwin said.
The next day, Chatwin filed a complaint against Big Dan’s (see attached) and the Vermillion Deli and Candy Shoppe, owned by Colorado City councilman Bygnal Dutson.
In the Utah lawsuit, Chatwin alleges his rights were violated between August 2004 and September 2005 when officers kept him from his home and refused to let him visit Edward Chatwin, his father, there.
Chatwin had asked his father to safeguard his home after he moved away from Hildale in 1996, according to the suit. Shortly thereafter, FLDS church leader Warren S. Jeffs sent one of Chatwin’s brothers to occupy the home’s basement.
Chatwin moved back to Hildale in August 2004 and tried to reclaim the home but was barred by Jeffs’ followers, including some of the police officers.
Around that time, Sam Chatwin, a different brother, moved into the home’s lower level, the suit states, without permission of Andrew Chatwin or his father.
In September 2005, Chatwin came to visit his father but his brother Sam ordered him to leave and called police.
A standoff ensued that resulted in Roundy ordering Chatwin to leave and then placing him in handcuffs when he refused.