No FLDS Insiders Expected by Grand Jury

By Lisa Sandberg
Houston Chronicle

August 21, 2008

SAN ANGELO When a West Texas grand jury reconvenes today to consider evidence against members of a polygamist sect, it's not likely to hear from any insiders.

Not a single follower of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints appears to have stepped forward to cooperate with authorities pursuing criminal charges against their peers, law enforcement authorities concede.

"No one is talking to me," Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said Wednesday. "They do not open up to law enforcement."

Prosecutors may turn to the group's documentation. They were meticulous about preserving marriage and birth records, complicated family trees and photos of milestones, such as marriages and anniversaries. Warren Jeffs, the group's prophet, kept a detailed diary of such occasions.

"Then at 9 p.m. ... (the girl) was sealed for time and all eternity to Warren Steed Jeffs," one entry, dated Saturday, April 16, 2005, read.

Rod Parker, an attorney for the FLDS, said Wednesday that his side has two fronts to fight: suppress the evidence by proving the search was illegal; and raise jurisdictional questions that would make prosecutors prove that if there was illegal activity, it took place in Texas.

"Those are the key issues," Parker said.

If charges are filed, many will be watching to see if they include women, such as Barbara Jessop, who attended her daughter's wedding and who this week cited the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination during a custody hearing. Attorneys for the state fired more than 30 questions at her, asking her everything from the names of her children to whether a parent should allow a 12-year-old girl to marry a middle-aged man.

The FLDS is not affiliated with mainstream Mormonism, which disavowed polygamy more than a century ago.

Doran said he believes the case "will be made on the documents and on the DNA."

Jeffs and four other members have so far been charged in Texas with sexual abuse of a minor in connection with the alleged underage unions that took place at the polygamists' YFZ ranch, 43 miles south of San Angelo.



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