Oct 2, 2015

Nothing Can Stop Mormon Cult Leader Warren Jeffs

Daily Beast
Samantha Allen
September 30, 2015

Two of Warren Jeffs’s children say he molested them. But the FLDS Church won’t listen, and doesn’t care.

Former FBI’s Most Wanted fugitive Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence for the aggravated sexual assault of children, but his followers in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) still believe he speaks for God. If history repeats itself, new allegations of sexual abuse from two of Jeffs’s children, airing Wednesday night on CNN’s This is Life, won’t change that.

Private investigator Sam Brower, author of the 2011 book Prophet’s Prey, has been investigating the FLDS for over a decade. He says that most FLDS adherents won’t see the episode, let alone consider its allegations.

“The sad reality of it is that active FLDS members are just not going to believe it,” Brower told The Daily Beast.

But Becky and Roy Jeffs remain hopeful that their allegations of child molestation can alter Jeffs’s standing in the polygamous Mormon offshoot, which has several thousand members in settlements across the Western United States and British Columbia.

In a preview of her CNN interview with Jeffs’s children, This is Life host Lisa Ling noted that “particularly, they want people who are still in the FLDS to know—people who still regard Warren Jeffs as the prophet—that this man was far from perfect.”

Jeffs’s imperfections have never been more visible.

The new documentary Prophet’s Prey, adapted from Brower’s book, reviews Jeffs’s rise to power, conviction, and imprisonment. In some of the film’s most haunting sequences, director Amy Berg details how Jeffs still leads the FLDS faith from within his Texas prison cell, dictating “revelations” that are then distributed to church members, and even releasing a book, Jesus Christ: A Message to All Nations, which urges world leaders to release him.

As CNN reports, Jeffs is “still firmly in control” of the sect.

Jeffs has been leading the FLDS since 2002, when he took over his father’s position along with most of his wives. The FLDS still subscribes to the practice of polygynous plural marriage, which the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) disavowed in 1890, prompting several Mormon schisms.

Warren Jeffs former home now "America's Most Wanted Bed & Breakfast"

KSTU - Salt Lake City, UT

Largely as a result of its polygamous family arrangements, FLDS enclaves have faced legal troubles for the last several years for allegedly operating as theocracies. The church is facing scrutiny from both the Department of Justice for allegedly failing to coordinate with law enforcement officials and from the Department of Labor for alleged violations of child labor laws.

But it has been Jeffs’s sexual crimes that have drawn the most attention to his embattled sect.

Jeffs is estimated to have over 70 wives and dozens of children but his alleged misconduct has not been restricted to them. A 2004 sexual assault lawsuit from his nephew Brent opened the floodgates for more charges of rape and assault. Jeffs began fleeing law enforcement around that time, making the FBI’s Most Wanted list in 2005. He was ultimately arrested in Nevada in 2006 and, in 2007, he was convicted in Utah of being an accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of an underage girl—Elissa Wall, now the author of the memoir Stolen Innocence—to an adult man.

“I remember him telling me, ‘You should never do this,’” he said. “And then he did it to me.”

His conviction was overturned in 2010, but in 2011, Jeffs was convicted in Texas on new charges of child sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault for sex with a 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl respectively. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.

With the new CNN special, the allegations against Jeffs are piling up even further. In the episode, Roy says that his father molested him when he was 4 or 5 years old.

“I remember him telling me, ‘You should never do this,’” he said. “And then he did it to me.”

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