SALT LAKE CITY – A law firm that has long represented a southern Utah polygamous sect is seeking to withdraw as its counsel in two lawsuits.
In documents filed Thursday in 3rd District Court, lawyers for Salt Lake City-based Snow, Christensen and Martineau said the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints “insist(s) upon a course of conduct with which their lawyers have a fundamental disagreement.”
The two cases involve the FLDS and its reclusive president, Warren Jeffs, and Sam Barlow, a former marshal in the FLDS town of Colorado City, Ariz. Also named is the United Effort Plan Trust, the sect’s charitable entity, which owns most of the land in the polygamous twin communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City.
One case alleges that Jeffs and other male leaders banish young men from their homes so they can marry more young brides. The FLDS preaches polygamy as a central tenet, and faithful FLDS men often have three or more wives, each of whom bears children.
Jeffs’ whereabouts are unknown to most outside his closed community, whose members are told not to speak to reporters. His compound in Hildale is surrounded by a 10-foot wall.
In the second suit, Brent Jeffs accuses his three uncles – Warren, Blaine and Leslie Jeffs – of sexually assaulting him years ago when he was a child. Brent claims that the three told him the actions were a way to make him a man and that the church and its leaders knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.