A man purged from Warren Jeffs’ polygamous church on the Utah-Arizona border won a partial court victory in a lawsuit he filed against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) leader. It’s a ruling that lawyers say could open the door to more lawsuits from those excommunicated by Jeffs.
Lorin Holm sued Jeffs, his brother, Lyle Jeffs, and two of his ex-wives for custody of his children.
“I wanted to see the children,” Holm told FOX 13 outside St. George’s 5th District Court on Tueday. “They have banned us from our children. This is a precedent (setting) case. Now that we’ve had a win, we’ll have hundreds more.”
After a two hour hearing, Judge James Shumate allowed Holm to visit his nine children, ranging in ages from 2 to 17, that he has not seen since he was excommunicated in January 2011. His wives, Patricia and Lynda Peine, have considered him an “apostate,” his attorney said. They were taken from him and now live with one of Holm’s sons.
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“We are a kind people, but these Jeffs boys have come in and ruined our community and they need to be reeled in,” Holm said.
Holm’s lawsuit is the first paternity case to get a judge’s ruling since Jeffs ousted more than 1,000 people from the ranks of the FLDS Church. The imprisoned polygamist leader set a New Year’s deadline for faithful followers to repent of their sins and reaffirm their allegiance to him or be excommunicated.
Judge James Shumate denied Holm’s request to move the children away from their mothers and into Holm’s residence, but ordered that Holm be allowed to visit the children at least twice a week – two to three hours at a time – under the guidance of an attorney appointed to represent the children’s interests until a review hearing scheduled for March 15.
Nadine Hansen made her appearance in the case Tuesday as the Guardian ad Litem’s office appointee to represent the children’s interests. Hansen said she already had visited with all of the children as well as their parents and found that the children did not want to be reunited with their father.
The two youngest children are ages 2 and 4 and probably would not understand the question at hand, she said.
“Of the other (older) seven children, all of them want to remain with their mother, and they’re not very excited about seeing their father,” Hansen said.
Hansen told Shumate that her own recommendations varied from the children’s wishes, however, and that she was recommending the seven oldest children be delivered to Holm’s custody.
“By all accounts, this was a very happy, loving, FLDS family until last January (2011). Until the father was ‘corrected,'” she said. “The mothers are not entirely at fault for the rift. … They were taught not to associated with apostates. However, the mothers have not done anything to heal that rift.”
Hansen said she had thought “long and hard” about how to reintegrate Holm into his children’s lives, and she had found evidence submitted to a Texas jury during last year’s trial of FLDS prophet-leader Warren Jeffs to be persuasive in forming her opinion. […more…]
FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and fathering a child with a 15-year-old girl — two of several young girls the ‘prophet’ has taken into ‘spiritual marriage.’
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