Children's advocate on FLDS raid: 'It's really about time'

Posted: Updated:
FBI agents raided several FLDS-controlled businesses in the twin border towns Tuesday. (Source: 3TV) FBI agents raided several FLDS-controlled businesses in the twin border towns Tuesday. (Source: 3TV)
"This isn't new," Flora Jessop said. "The reality is these guys pull in millions of dollars." (Source: 3TV) "This isn't new," Flora Jessop said. "The reality is these guys pull in millions of dollars." (Source: 3TV)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

"The mafia could take lessons from these guys."

Well-known children's advocate Flora Jessop wasn't mincing any words Wednesday when asked about the federal government's latest crackdown on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ.

FBI agents raided several FLDS-controlled businesses in the twin border towns Tuesday.

According to John Huber, the U.S. Attorney for Utah, the raid targeted alleged welfare fraud and money laundering.

"This indictment is not about religion," Huber said. "This indictment is about fraud."

It is a story we have told many times over the years -- welfare money intended for the many needy women and children in the polygamous community pouring in only to be diverted into the hands of FLDS church leaders.

"This isn't new," Jessop said. "The reality is these guys pull in millions of dollars. That money goes to buy new trucks for these guys to drive around and spy on each other, to patrol their little kingdom, to keep girls in town and force them into marriage."

Nearly a dozen people were arrested during Tuesday's raid, including Lyle Jeffs, the powerful younger brother of imprisoned FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs.

Lyle Jeffs is the bishop of the FLDS church and the guy who has been running the day-to-day operations in Colorado City and Hildale ever since his brother was locked up for life for the rape of two underage girls.

This week's raid is just the latest in a series of bombshells to rock the remote and isolated community.

In Phoenix's federal court, the Justice Department's discrimination lawsuit against the twin towns is set to resume on Monday following an unexpected weeklong break made necessary when Judge Russel Holland became ill on the bench and had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

Another government lawsuit alleging child labor violations by the FLDS church is now making its way through federal court in Salt Lake City.

"It's like picking up a lid off a barrel of snakes," Jessop said. "Every one of the snakes represents a different crime these guys are committing."

"It's really about time," she said of the federal government's seemingly newfound enthusiasm for taking on the many alleged crimes of the FLDS community.

"They have been putting the women and children up there in Colorado City and Hildale through hell for years," she said. "They have been starving them, stealing from them, abusing them, and nobody stepped in to protect the women and children at all."

Maybe they are now.

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


  • Social Connect

  • Contact

    AZ Family