In a community rocked by persistent and ongoing allegations of sexual abuse, welfare fraud and forced marriages, suddenly there is a new force in town. This week, the state of Arizona and Mojave County opened a new justice center in the border straddling polygamist town of Colorado City.
The polygamist enclave has long been isolated by geography and hostile to outsiders, but Monday a new justice center opened its doors. The building will be used by Child Protective Services, the Arizona Attorney Generals Office, the Mojave County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mojave County Attorney’s Office.
Officials say they hope the new facility will serve victims who, in the past, have had nowhere to turn in Colorado City. Over the years, critics have complained bitterly that women and young girls trying to escape forced marriages and the polygamist lifestyle have had no where to go because almost all of the police officers in the community are members of the polygamist religion – the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
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County and state leaders also hope the justice center will open channels of communication throughout the community. And while some anti-polygamy activists say the center is a good first step, others say the people who need it the most — women and young girls — will avoid the center like the plague. Sources say that faithful members of the FLDS church have already been warned to steer clear of the facility.