DOJ sues polygamous Colorado City

The U.S. Department of Justice is filing suit against the Town of Colorado City, the City of Hildale, and two utility agencies under the two cities’ control for their discrimination against non- Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members. The suit alleges that the defendants “have engaged in and continue to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments” of the Constitution.

Arizona’s Attorney General’s Office is applauding the move. “I am very pleased that the US DOJ has taken legal action to join us in this fight,” said AG Tom Horne. “I have offered the support of my office in pursuing this case and look forward to justice being served.”

Horne proposed legislation last year that would have eliminated the ability of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) to control and direct law enforcement officers employed by the Colorado City Marshal’s office.

Two weeks ago, the Arizona AG’s office announced that it will provide $420,000 to the Mohave County Sheriff office for overtime pay so that its officers could patrol Colorado City 16 hours per day. The hours will be staggered. It is hoped that the presence of the Sheriff’s Office will prevent “authorities” from infringing on the rights of the citizens of Colorado City.

The DOJ claims that the defendants “have acted in concert with FLDS leadership to deny non-FLDS members access to housing in the Cities, and they have coerced, intimidated, threatened, and interfered with the housing rights of non-FLDS members. The term “non-FLDS” includes: 1. individuals who were never members of the FLDS; 2. individuals who were members of the FLDS but left the Church; and 3. individuals who were told that they “lost priesthood,” were told to “repent from a distance,” or were otherwise excommunicated by Warren Jeffs and/or his followers.

The suit allegeds that the “Marshal’s Office has inappropriately used its state-granted law enforcement authority to enforce the edicts of the FLDS, to the detriment of non-FLDS members. In addition, the Cities’ officials have misdirected and misused public resources in the service of the FLDS.

For at least 20 years, the Cities have operated as an arm of the FLDS, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Cities’ governments, including the Marshal’s Office, have been deployed to carry out the will and dictates of FLDS leaders, particularly Warren Jeffs and the officials to whom he delegates authority. For decades, officials of the Cities have, by operating at the direction and for the benefit of the FLDS, abdicated their official duties to protect the rights of all citizens equally and to administer governmental functions consistently with the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.”

On August 4, 2011, Jeffs was convicted of two counts of child sexual assault against a twelve year-old girl and a fifteen year-old girl in San Angelo, Texas. He is now serving a life plus twenty-year prison sentence. Jeffs remains the head of the FLDS while in prison.

Check back tomorrow for details of the case.

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