Fix 'Slanderous' Claims, FLDS Says
Demand Sent to Utah A.G., State Officers

By Brooke Adams
Salt Lake Tribune
June 17, 2008

A Salt Lake City attorney has asked three Utah officials to "immediately correct" misstatements about FLDS members in profiles provided to Texas authorities.

The profiles, given to Texas law enforcement prior to custody hearings for about 450 children from the polygamous sect's YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, were based on "unsubstantiated or from unreliable sources," said Rod Parker, an FLDS spokesman, in a letter distributed Tuesday.

"As public servants, sworn to serve and protect the citizens, the spreading of slanderous statements such as these jeopardizes the trust of county officials, state officials, law enforcement and government officials of neighboring states, and private citizens," the letter states.

Parker sent the letter to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap and Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith.

A deputy with the Washington County Sheriff's Office prepared dossiers on 20 FLDS members considered potential threats during the Texas proceedings. The write-ups describe church positions held by the individuals, business affiliations and note whether the individual attended Jeffs' criminal trial in Utah last September.

None of the individuals have criminal records or a history of violence, the dossiers note.

Texas authorities also met with Arizona investigators, who shared information

about individuals described as most likely to try to intimidate or bribe witnesses.

The profiles, along with driver license photos, were distributed to law enforcement on April 16, a day before 51st District Judge Barbara Walther began a hearing on whether to keep the FLDS children in state custody.

One person profiled: Willie Jessop, who has acted as a spokesman for the sect since the April 3 raid on the ranch. Its residents are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Parker said Jessop has been targeted since the Jeffs' trial, when he was placed under extra security and barred from proceedings after a complaint from a witness. The ban was ordered even though "your own security officers acknowledge that they observed nothing intimidating in his conduct," Parker noted.

He also said state officials continue to be "manipulated by hate groups who wish to see the FLDS destroyed.

"Time after time, the information those groups have provided you has turned out to be false, yet you persist in spreading their lies and, in the process, undermine your effectiveness," he said.

Copies of the letter also were sent to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., St. George Mayor Dan McArthur and St. George Police Chief Marlin Stratton.

A spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff's Office said the sheriff has not yet seen the letter and could not comment on it. Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap also had no comment.

Paul Murphy, Shurtleff's spokesman, said his office had nothing to do with profiles.

"Mr. Parker has accused our office of painting all polygamists with a broad brush and I think he is doing the same thing here by accusing us of making all sorts of false accusations," Murphy said. As for any other statements from the office, "I would like him to state where we are in error, what needs correcting and to tell the truth about a lot of the questions we still have about the practices within the FLDS Church."



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