RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – A former polygamous sect member said he believes some members who previously lived at a compound near Pringle had moved to the polygamous compound at Eldorado, Texas raided by law enforcement authorities earlier this month.
Isaac Wyler, a former longtime member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, told the Rapid City Journal that FLDS members had to prove themselves worthy of going to the Yearning For Zion compound by first living at other compounds such as Pringle.
“Some of those compounds were stepping stones to get to Texas,” Wyler told the newspaper in a phone interview this week.
The sect, a Mormon splinter group spurned by the mainline Mormon Church, arrived in Texas in 2003, relocating some members from the church’s traditional home along the Utah-Arizona state line. Its prophet and spiritual leader, Warren Jeffs, is in prison for forcing an underage girl into marriage in Utah.
Wyler, who lives in Colorado City, Ariz., was excommunicated by Jeffs in 2004 but never told why.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Wyler, who as an FDLS member had only one wife who divorced him after he challenged Jeffs’ teachings.
Land for the Pringle compound was purchased in 2003 by the same man who handled the purchase of the Texas property, according to The Success newspaper of Eldorado.
Wyler said he believes that William E. Jessop, whom Jeffs temporarily named to replace him as prophet of the FLDS, is living at Pringle.
Wyler said he was at a meeting of FLDS leaders in the 1990s at which then-church leader Rulon Jeffs, Jeffs’ father, urged the sect to take a proposed deal from the state to abandon underage marriages in exchange for amnesty for any past crimes involving underage marriages.
Warren Jeffs, who soon thereafter took control of the sect, rejected the deal and defiantly went on a spree of performing underage marriages, according to Wyler.
Wyler said rape follows naturally in some cases in which girls as young as 13 or 14 are married to older men.
“I know of cases in this town where underage girls were married to a guy and she didn’t want to do anything and he forced himself on her,” he said. “It’s not always that way. But that’s going to happen any place you have underage marriages.”
Wyler said there are occasions when an FLDS man marries a woman who already has small children, raises them up to age 13 or 14 and then marries them.
“They grow up calling this man Dad and then have to have sex with him,” He said.