Willie Jessop, the Former spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), has won a $29,493,000 default judgement against church leaders Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman who failed to respond to a lawsuit.
Jessop sued after he was excommunicated, alledging he was blackmailed and pressured to lie for Warren Jeffs, who faced charges of under age marriages and child sexual assault. The lawsuit said the FLDS leaders retaliated against him burglarizing his Hildale construction business and forcing his employees to quit.
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Fifth District Court Judge Rand Beacham ruled in Jessop’s favor Monday after Lyle Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ brother and John Wayman did not respond to the lawsuit.
in an interview with FOX 13 on Thursday, Jessop said it was no consolation for the “tragedy” unfolding in the fundamentalist communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
“There (are) people that are trying to survive the act of a religion that has been basically turned over to a cartel,” he said. “Religious leaders are excommunicating people to cover up the sexual assault of little children.”
Jessop was a loyal defender of Jeffs, until he learned of the sexual assault of children in the aftermath of the raid on the FLDS Church’s Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas. Jeffs is serving a life, plus 20-year sentence for child sex assault stemming from his “spiritual marriages” to a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl.
Since he’s been incarcerated, Jeffs has excommunicated nearly 2,000 people for unnamed “sins.” Jessop called it a “social tragedy.”
“We’ve got a long ways to go out of this mess and it’s a heartache on an hourly basis,” he said.
Jessop said he wanted to see FLDS leaders besides Jeffs held accountable for their involvement. Law enforcement authorities in southern Utah have told FOX 13 their criminal investigations into members of the FLDS Church are not over.
Jessop’s lawsuit is also not over. He has served a number of people — including Warren Jeffs himself.