CONFESSIONS OF AN AMBULANCE CHASER

Sins of my fathers: Unfinished business

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(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)
Prophet Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS church, is serving a life sentence in Texas for child rape. (Source: 3TV) Prophet Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS church, is serving a life sentence in Texas for child rape. (Source: 3TV)
Colorado City residents Ron and Jinger Cooke are not members of the FLDS church, and they say they have been persecuted because of it. (Source: 3TV) Colorado City residents Ron and Jinger Cooke are not members of the FLDS church, and they say they have been persecuted because of it. (Source: 3TV)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The practice of polygamy is sort of in my DNA. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City and, at the age of 8, I was baptized into the Mormon church.

Like a lot of people whose families' roots go deep in the Mormon faith, I have ancestors who practiced polygamy. I have also spent much of my nearly 40-year career as a reporter doing stories about the practice of polygamy in America.

Many of the stories have focused on the abuse of women and children in the closed and isolated Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) community in Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ. Over the years, I believe these stories have helped shine a spotlight on this long-standing human rights crisis within the borders of our own country. 

It has been a fascinating journey. 

And now comes what promises to be one of the most interesting court cases in the history of this long and twisted saga.

On Tuesday, attorneys with the U.S. Justice Department will be in Phoenix's federal court to take on the towns of Hildale and Colorado City. It is a civil rights lawsuit against the two cult-controlled communities.

In their lawsuit, the feds lay out a case that reads like a CliffsNotes to the stories that we have been telling for nearly four decades.

The feds accuse the twin border towns of being controlled by and acting on behalf of Prophet Warren Jeffs and practicing a pattern of discrimination against the apostates and non-FLDS people who live in the community. The suit focuses on housing, policing and access to public utilities. 

Nowhere in America is there a place like "The Creek." 

It is an absolute theocracy in which every layer of government, every personal interaction and every facet of a person's life is directed and controlled by one man.

A jury will hear stories of families torn apart by Jeffs, who, despite being convicted of child rape and locked up for life in Texas, continues to call the shots in Colorado City and Hildale with the help of his younger brother and now right-hand man, Lyle Jeffs.

There will be testimony about the tough-guy cops of the Colorado City Town Marshal's Office, the thugs with guns and badges who have always been the prophet's enforcers.

I have spent a lot of time chasing after those guys, and I have watched as many of them have had their badges taken away.

There will be stories of FLDS hooligans terrorizing their non-FLDS neighbors, vandalizing property, destroying crops and killing animals.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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