Jul 30, 2008

5 indicted FLDS men appear before judge

Ben Winslow
Deseret News

July 30, 2008

Five members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church indicted by a Texas grand jury made their first appearances before a judge.

The men were arraigned before Schleicher County Justice of the Peace James Doyle late Tuesday afternoon, where they were handed papers spelling out their rights and told not to contact their alleged victims.

"All I do is an admonishment," Doyle told the Deseret News. "I read the warrant so they know what's been charged by the grand jury. I go through their rights."

One man, Dr. Lloyd Hammon Barlow, 38, posted a $15,000 bond late Tuesday and was released from jail pending his next court appearance. The rest remained in jail pending the posting of $100,000 bail, Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said. The men's next court appearance will then be set by the district court judge, who is based in nearby San Angelo.

Raymond Merril Jessop, 36; Allan Eugene Keate, 56; Michael George Emack, 57; and Merril Leroy Jessop, 33, are all charged with first-degree felony sexual assault. Merril Jessop is also charged with bigamy, a first-degree felony. Barlow was indicted on misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse.

Also indicted is FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who remains in an Arizona jail. Jeffs, 52, is accused of performing child-bride marriages there. -->Texas authorities have said they will seek to have the FLDS leader extradited as soon as possible to the Lone Star state to face a sexual assault charge -->. Jeffs was convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin and was sentenced to a pair of 5-to-life sentences.

In April, child welfare authorities and law enforcement raided the YFZ Ranch outside Eldorado, Texas, after a phone call from someone claiming to be a pregnant 16-year-old in an abusive marriage to an older man. On site, authorities said they saw other signs of abuse, prompting a judge to order the removal of all of the children.

The ranch's 440 children were ultimately returned to their families when two Texas courts ruled the state acted improperly and there was no imminent danger of abuse. The original calls that sparked the raid are still being investigated as a hoax.

Hundreds of boxes of evidence were seized from the ranch, including diaries, photographs, thousands of pages of dictations by Jeffs and other FLDS records. These are believed to have contributed to the indictments, which may be the first of a series. The Schleicher County grand jury will meet again next month.

Raymond Merril Jessop is believed to have married Teresa Jeffs (now 17) a day after her 15th birthday in July 2006. Jeffs repeatedly has gone public denying she was a sex abuse victim but was subpoenaed to testify before the Schleicher County grand jury anyway. In the indictment, he is accused of sexually assaulting a girl under 17 in November 2004.

Merril Leroy Jessop is charged with sexual assault involving a girl in August 2006. The indictment also charges him with bigamy, stemming from a ceremony the same day Raymond Jessop married Teresa Jeffs.

"I was mouth at performing the marriage sealings," Jeffs said in a July 27, 2006, dictation filed with a child-advocate's court report and obtained by the Deseret News. "Merril Leroy Jessop received (the girl), and Raymond Merril Jessop received my daughter Teresa Jeffs."

According to the dictation, the FLDS leader himself married a girl in the same ceremony. Texas child welfare authorities believe she was 12 at the time.

A Bishop's Record seized by law enforcement indicates Allan Keate had a 17-year-old wife, and may have fathered an underage child with her. The indictment accuses him of sexual assault in April 2006.

Emack, according to the Bishop's records, has a 19-year-old wife and had a 1 1/2-year-old son with her. The indictment accuses him of sexual assault in October 2004.

Barlow is an FLDS community physician. The indictments accuse him of delivering babies in October and December of 2006 and May 2007, knowing their mothers were children and having cause to believe they were abused or neglected.

With the news of the criminal charges, Utah licensing officials said they will monitor the Texas case before deciding if they will take any action against Dr. Barlow.

"I cannot confirm or deny if we have an investigation going," said Jennifer Bolton, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

E-MAIL: bwinslow@desnews.com

http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,700246826,00.html

Jul 29, 2008

5 indicted FLDS men surrender to Texas authorities

Pat Reavy
Deseret News
July 29, 2008

The five FLDS men indicted last week by a grand jury in Schleicher County, Texas, surrendered to authorities Monday afternoon at the Schleicher County Sheriff's Office.

The 12-member jury indicted a total of six men, including FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, on July 22. At least nine jury members must vote in favor of an indictment for one to be issued.

Five of the men, including Jeffs, were indicted on first-degree felony charges of sexual assault of a child. But the names of the other men were withheld until they were in custody.

Monday afternoon, the Texas Attorney General's Office announced the other men charged with sexual assault are Raymond Merrill Jessop, 36; Allan Eugene Keate, 56; Michael George Emack, 57; and Merrill Leroy Jessop, 33. Merrill Jessop was also charged with bigamy, a first-degree felony.

The sixth man, Lloyd Hammon Barlow, 38, was indicted on three counts of failure to report child abuse, all class B misdemeanors.

The sentence for a sex assault conviction is five to 99 years in prison, or five years to life in prison.

Bond for the men other than Jeffs was set at $100,000 per charge for the felonies and $5,000 for the misdemeanor.

The arrests "reflect nearly a weeklong effort by the Texas Rangers and Texas Attorney General's Office to arrange for the defendants' arrests," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement.

Diaries of an FLDS member submitted as evidence in connection with the case of Teresa Jeffs, now 17, the daughter of Warren Jeffs, mentioned Raymond Jessop.

Teresa Jeffs allegedly married Raymond Jessop on her 15th birthday in 2006, according to her diary.

Raymond was described in Warren Jeffs' diary as being part of the faith's priesthood.

Jeffs is in custody in a Kingman, Ariz., jail awaiting trial on charges of sexual misconduct as an accomplice, accused of performing underage marriages. He was convicted in Utah in 2007 of rape as an accomplice for marrying a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin. He was sentenced to two sentences of 5-years-to-life in prison.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,700246728,00.html?linkTrack=Email%2DGME

5 from West Texas polygamy sect to be arraigned today in sex assault case

Emily Ramshaw
Dallas Morning News
July 29, 2008

AUSTIN — Five men from a West Texas polygamist sect will be arraigned this afternoon, a day after they turned themselves in on charges related to the sexual assault and “spiritual” marriage of underage girls.

Attorney General Greg Abbott said law enforcement officials and an attorney for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints negotiated the surrender, which came sooner than expected, officials acknowledged.

A sixth sexual assault suspect – sect prophet Warren Jeffs – has already been convicted of similar charges in Utah, is in jail awaiting trial in Arizona, and could still be extradited to Texas.

The arrests follow child welfare investigators’ seizure of 440 children and about two dozen women from the polygamist community in April, over allegations the sect permitted a culture of sexual abuse and marriages between young girls and much older men.

State courts overturned the decision to take children and some young women into state custody months later, and most children were returned to their parents.

Attorneys for the sect, who have expressed outrage over the raid and subsequent criminal charges, declined to comment on Monday’s arrests. Willie Jessop, who has been speaking on behalf of the West Texas community in Mr. Jeffs’ absence, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Jeffs and four other men — Merril Leroy Jessop, 33; Raymond Jessop, 36; Michael Emack, 57 and Allan Keate, 56 — were charged with first-degree felony sexual assault of a child. The younger Mr. Jessop, who uses his middle name, is also charged with first-degree felony bigamy, which means one of his alleged wives is younger than 16. A sixth man, Dr. Lloyd Barlow, 38, faces three misdemeanor counts of failing to report child abuse.

A grand jury received DNA evidence drawn from members of the sect before issuing the criminal charges.

All the men but Mr. Jeffs are in custody in Schleicher County, where their Yearning For Zion ranch is located. The men charged with felonies are all being held in lieu of $100,000 bond and face sentences ranging from 5 years to life in prison. Dr. Barlow’s bail is $5,000, and he faces a sentence of up to six months in prison.

It’s unclear whether the men will post bond today. Mr. Abbott, acknowledging the deep financial pockets of the Mormon breakaway sect, said that he still thought the $100,000 bail was sufficient and that authorities would keep close watch over any of the individuals who are released on bond.

Dr. Barlow is known as the chief physician at the sect’s compound outside Eldorado and is thought to have had information about young mothers there.

At least three of the other men, including Mr. Jeffs, are believed to have taken underage wives. A 2006 “dictation” from Warren Jeffs submitted as evidence in the case details the prophet choosing another wife for himself, as well as arranging the marriage of his own 16-year-old daughter to Raymond Jessop. He also chooses a bride for Leroy Jessop.

In the dictation, he refers to another man arrested Monday, noting that an FBI agent had “called Mike Emack right on Mike Emack’smobile phone, asking him if he would testify against me.”

“I don’t deserve any of my ladies,” Mr. Jeffs says in the dictation, “but I thank the Lord for every one of them, and yearn for every one of them to succeed, and all to be gathered.”

The Dallas Morning News does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.

Despite sect members’ vows last week that they would turn themselves in, state law enforcement officials had refused to estimate how long it would take to apprehend the men. They feared they had already fled to the FLDS’ home base — the Utah-Arizona border — or worse, left the country.

On Monday, Mr. Abbott confirmed that an attorney for the sect facilitated the surrender of the men, who arrived at the Schleicher County jail in two shifts. He said he didn’t know if the men had to be summoned from another state to turn themselves in.

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said the men were booked peacefully.

The grand jury meets again next month, and Mr. Abbott said the “investigation of this whole issue is ongoing.”

Gerry Goldstein, a San Antonio-based attorney for the sect, said he was “not in a position to discuss the case.”

But as recently as last week, Mr. Jessop said he was confident in the “character of the people from the ranch,” and that they would “certainly step up to the allegations.” He said the idea that any sect members would flee the state in fear of indictments was outrageous.

“I’ll tell you right now,” he said, “anyone under these indictments will step up and answer the charges, to show the judicial system that we’re not guilty of what they’ve accused us of.”

eramshaw@dallasnews.com

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/073008dnmetpolygamy.14277b19.html

Jul 17, 2008

5th District Court will take up the actions against residents who don't want to pay $100 a month fee

Brooke Adams
Salt Lake Tribune
July 17, 2008 

FLDS: Judge won't block evictions

A 3rd District Court judge refused to issue a temporary restraining order that would have halted plans to evict hundreds of people from their homes in the polygamous Utah-Arizona border communities of Hildale and Colorado City.

    Judge Denise Lindberg ruled Tuesday there were factual and procedural problems with a request from attorneys for the families. Those facing evictions are current or former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    Lindberg said that any eviction proceeding would be heard in 5th District Court, not by her. She also said the attorneys had not given proper notice of the action nor filed a bond required for all restraining orders.

    The judge said, however, that she would look at allegations of improper conduct by the accountant overseeing the sect's United Effort Plan Trust if brought before her separately.

    "The good news to our clients is that there is not imminent danger of them being removed without further litigation in the 5th District Court," said Bret Rawson, an attorney who, with Peter Stirba, represents those who received eviction notices. "We now have to determine [if] we ask the court to rule on the remainder of last night's filing or raise the issue again referencing facts in that filing."

    Jeff Shields, attorney for court-appointed fiduciary Bruce R. Wisan, said some residents have already moved to avoid eviction.

    "We're working with them if they're genuine and have issues," Shields said.

    On Tuesday, the attorneys charged that Wisan, appointed three years ago by Lindberg to manage the United Effort Plan Trust, was harming the beneficiaries of the trust.

    The trust holds virtually all land in the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., as well as property in Bountiful, British Columbia. The communities are the traditional homes of the FLDS sect.

    Wisan had given demand notices to residents of 57 dwellings in the twin towns that gave them until Tuesday to pay or make arrangements to pay a $100 a month assessment fee.

    brooke@sltrib.com

Side Bar:

UEP at a glance     
       
    The United Effort Plan Trust was officially organized in 1942 by a fundamentalist Mormon group known at the time as The Work - now the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    It was designed to protect property holdings and, through a communal effort, support members with plural families.

    The property trust holds virtually all land and buildings in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., formerly known as Short Creek; it also includes property in Bountiful, British Columbia. The holdings have an estimated value around $110 million.

    The UEP Trust was placed under court management in May 2005 after the FLDS failed to defend its assets against several lawsuits that alleged wrongdoing by trustees and church leaders. Salt Lake City accountant Bruce R. Wisan has managed it since then.

    In March 2007, Wisan received a $8.8 million default judgment against the FLDS church and former trustees, a debt he has partially satisfied by seizing a farm formerly operated by the sect. Still owed: $5 million or so, with interest.

    Wisan now works with an appointed advisory board that includes: Carolyn Jessop; Seth Cooke; Don Timpson; Katie Cox; Deloy Bateman; Robert Huddleston; and Margaret Cooke. With the exception of Huddleston and Timpson, the rest are former FLDS members.

    - Brooke Adams  

http://www.sltrib.com/polygamy/ci_9890163

Jul 10, 2008

5 Investigates: From Polygamy To Stripping

KPHO CBS News (AZ)
July 10, 2008

PHOENIX -- When Kathleen Mackert was 16 years old, her father took her out for a birthday dinner.
That night, he instructed her "of the physical demonstrations of how a woman's body responds to a man's," Mackert said.

On her 18th birthday, her father forced her to marry her step-brother.

"I thought, 'Thank God, at least I know him, and he doesn't have another wife,'" she said.
Mackert grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, where polygamy is a way of life.
Nevertheless, she, her husband and her four children eventually escaped the church.

Soon after, she and her husband split up. To support her children, Mackert worked as a firefighter, a police dispatcher and in health care -- but it wasn't enough.

So she turned to stripping.

"I was 31," she told 5 Investigates. "I had four children, and there were 21-year-old girls that I was competing with on stage for that dollar."

The profession gave her a sense of power, she told 5 Investigates.

"You were in a sexually charged environment, but you were in control of it," she said. "They couldn't touch you."

She said she never took advantage of the offers of drugs and sex she received; she did not want to risk losing her children.

She eventually left stripping, finding it "damaging."

"I was becoming more and more unhappy," she said.

And after years of counseling, Mackert now works as a bartender.

She likes "making people feel welcome and at home and like they belong," she said. "And I guess for me I always wanted to feel like that."

http://www.kpho.com/news/16842870/detail.html

Jul 5, 2008

5 arrested in Rainbow Family clash with feds

Ben Neary
Associated Press

July 5, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — About 400 members of the Rainbow Family threw rocks and sticks at 10 federal officers as they tried to arrest a member of the group, the U.S. Forest Service said Friday.

Five members of the group were arrested and one officer was slightly injured. A government vehicle was also damaged.

About 7,000 members of the Rainbow Family are camping this year on Forest Service land near Big Sandy. The Rainbow Family is a loose affiliation of eccentrics, young people and hippie types who choose a forest each year in which hold a weeklong national gathering.

Ten Forest Service officers were patrolling the main meadow of the Rainbow Family's camping area Thursday night and apprehended one person described as being uncooperative, Rita Vollmer, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said in a statement Friday.

"Officers began to leave the gathering site with the subject and were circled by more Rainbow participants that began to physically interfere," Vollmer said.

About 400 Rainbows surrounded the officers trying to leave, she said.

"The mob began to advance, throwing sticks and rocks at the officers," Vollmer said.

Mary Cernicek, spokeswoman for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, said Friday that more officers arrived to help. Officers fired "pepper balls" — similar to paint balls but containing a pepper solution — to control the crowd, she said.

State troopers have also arrested two people this week on felony drug charges for allegedly possessing 96 hits of LSD, said Sgt. Stephen Townsend of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

The Rainbows and federal officers have clashed repeatedly in years past, and the Forest Service in 1998 established a national response team to deal with the group. Officials have complained that the gathering can ruin forests, with the group saying members clean up and reseed afterward.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hN-c-3eoJ10eVh0oueH7birn-AJAD91N66O00