FLDS allegedly forcing parents to give up children
Published: Thursday, March 21st, 2013
A recent defector from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) said she and her family walked away from an FLDSâï¿½ï¿½compound in Utah due to fears of being separated from each other.
In a Notice of Filing Declaration filed Feb. 14 in the Fifth Judicial District Court, Washington County, State of Utah, plaintiff Suzette Steed filed for a temporary restraining order from Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed “prophet” of the FLDS, and other FLDS members, Lyle Jeffs, Lynda Peine and Patricia Peine.
In the filing, Steed said she took her six daughters and fled her home in Short Cree, after she feared that she was about to have one or more of her children taken from her.
Earlier in the day, her oldest daughter, who is a member of the FLDS’ “United Order” (UO), attended a church meeting only for UOâï¿½ï¿½members and was further instructed by Lyle Jeffs, who is the Bishop of Short Creek.
What her oldest daughter told her when she returned home helped she and her daughters—ages 6 to 17—make the final decision to leave immediately.
“My oldest daughter was shaking in fear as she told us that in addition to sacrificing all worldly possession, those admitted into the UOâï¿½ï¿½would now be required to cease all contact with everyone who had not qualified,”âï¿½ï¿½the court document says. That means completely ending all relationships with any parent, child or sibling who had not been admitted into the UO.
Parents in the UOâï¿½ï¿½would only be allowed to maintain a stewardship over their children if their children had also been admitted into the UO. No other family members would be allowed direct or indirect access to the Bishop’s Storehouse to meet their daily needs.
On Nov. 19, 2011, Steed said her husband of 28 years was ordered by Lyle Jeffs to leave his family, and he drove away just before the 7 p.m. deadline. She said she has not seen or heard from him since, and she does not have any information about where he is or how he is doing.
At the beginning of January, according to the court document, husbands and wives were directed not to have marital relations with each other unless they obtained permission from the bishop to procreate priesthood children. Then, in mid-January, many FLDSâï¿½ï¿½children, including Steed’s, were invited to special UOâï¿½ï¿½meetings without their parents. At those meetings, they were taught about secrets about the UO. When she asked her daughters what had transpired and what they had been instructed, she was told they were forbidden from telling.
“All of this added to my growing worry about what was happening,”âï¿½ï¿½she said.
When five of her daughters were admitted into the UO, and she and her 12-year-old were not, Steed said things became too much to bear, despite her “life-long” belief in the FLDSâï¿½ï¿½church.
“The bishop was using the United Order to separate children from mothers,”âï¿½ï¿½she said. “We had to make life-changing decisions and with very little time.”
On the afternoon of Jan. 29, she and her six daughters took a Sunday walk as they often did. To draw no attention, they took nothing but the dresses they were wearing, except one daughter, who had packed a small bag with some of her things and a camera.
The group was able to sneak into the home of an FLDSâï¿½ï¿½apostate, who hid the group until it was dark enough to drive them out of Short Creek and north to beaver, Utah, where they met by another vehicle that drove them to Salt Lake City to a temporary home.
According to The Eldorado Success, an anti-polygamy activist claims children inside the FLDSâï¿½ï¿½community are now being fed only beans and water two times each day. The restriction, she claims, was ordered by Warren Jeffs from a prison cell in Texas, where he is being held for a variety of sex crimes.
“There is no milk, no cheese, no meat or fruit, no sugar, no vegetables, no grains—nothing but beans and water,”âï¿½ï¿½said K. Dee Ignatin of San Antonio. “The parents are still allowed to eat other foods but the children get nothing but beans and water.”
The Success goes on to say that recent aerial photos of the YFZ Ranch in Texas reveal that all of the dairy cows once dept there are gone, lending credence to the belief that Jeff’s self-sufficient followers, or at leas those in Schleicher County, Texas, no longer have access to dairy products. There are no cows visible on the FLDSâï¿½ï¿½compound in southwest Custer County, either.
The Success said Jeff, who still exercises authority over the day-to-day lives of thousands of FLDSâï¿½ï¿½followers, began limiting children’s diets soon after his 2011 conviction on child rape charges. The information first came to light last year when a woman named Ruby Jessop managed to escape last year from the fLDSâï¿½ï¿½community of Colorado City, AZ/Hildale, Utah.
Jessop is the younger sister of long-time anti-polygamy activist Flora Jessop. She relayed accounts of child abuse, including the severe dietary restrictions, shortly after regaining custody of her six children in early February.
Things have been quiet recently at the compound in Custer County. The group’s construction permits issued by the county have expired, but construction had stopped prior to that expiration.
“We didn’t yank the permits and cause them to stop. They didn’t get done for whatever reason,”âï¿½ï¿½Custer County planning director David Green said.
Green said like any county resident, the FLDS can have their permits extended, although they will have to resubmit the plans for their “storage building,”âï¿½ï¿½for which initial plans submitted by the FLDSâï¿½ï¿½did not include a basement. There is now a hole pushing 20 feet deep dug out for that building. Work on that building has not started.
Green said if all the delinquent taxes are paid up on the parcels the FLDSâï¿½ï¿½is building on, the permits will be extended or renewed. Green said there was “a couple hundred”âï¿½ï¿½owed on one of the parcels, although if someone were to buy the tax deed, it would change the complexion of the issue.
“They did exactly what we asked for,”âï¿½ï¿½Green said, saying the county was allowed on site to see the projects. “They have been patient.”
Green said when the excavated foot print for the storage building is inspected, it is larger than one would expect for the size of a building they indicated on their initial building permit.
Green added the FLDS, like anyone, is not required to be any more specific about the type of building being constructed than saying whether it is residential or commercial, along with other basic information such as square footage, number of floors, etc.
“That’s all we ask of anybody,”âï¿½ï¿½he said.âï¿½ï¿½“They haven’t been any more specific than to say it’s a building of religious significance.”
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