Colorado City couple goes to court to battle FLDS abuse

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- For the last four and a half years, Colorado City residents Ron and Jinger Cooke have been trying to get a water hook-up to the Northern Arizona home they share with their three children.

And for last four and a half years officials in the FLDS controlled community have told them "no."

"They're bullies," Jinger said as tears welled up in her eyes.

This week, the Cookes were in a federal court room in Phoenix pursuing an explosive civil rights lawsuits they have filed against the municipal governments and utilities in the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.

In their lawsuit, the Cookes contend that they have been the victims of constant harassment and discrimination in Colorado City because they are not members of the dominant FLDS faith and not followers of imprisoned polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs.

It is a story that we have been following for most of the last four and a half years, watching as the Cookes were forced to haul all of the water for their home in a giant vat strapped to the back of a flatbed truck.

The Cookes have also documented with their own cameras several incidents in which FLDS men and boys have come to their home to harass and intimidate them.

During one such incident an FLDS man drove a backhoe on to their property and started digging up their front yard while FLDS cops stood by protecting the backhoe driver.

The stress for the Cookes is made greater given the fact that Ron Cooke was left badly disabled in a construction site accident several years ago.

Ron grew up in Colorado City and like most of the children, he spent much of his childhood working as an unpaid laborer on FLDS projects and for FLDS businesses.

Ron fled the closed community when he was a teenager.  He moved to Phoenix, married and started a family.

After Ron's accident, the Cookes, hoping for a slower paced life, decided to buy a home in Colorado City when they discovered an unfinished and abandoned home was available to them because of Ron's year of unpaid child labor.

Instead of finding their dream of a slow-paced, small town life, Jinger says "it's been a nightmare."