Utah AG to meet with polygamous sect leaders
SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff plans to meet Friday with members of a polygamous sect on the Utah-Arizona border to discuss how to deal with homes, businesses and property the state controls.
Shurtleff will lay out broad-stroke options during the town-hall style meeting in Colorado City, Ariz., before seeking reaction on how to move forward from leaders, members and ex-members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The sect is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism led by Warren Jeffs whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.
Utah took over a church trust that controls the properties in 2005. A November federal appeals court ruling cleared the way for the state to break up the church trust and sell homes, businesses and farms in the two small towns.
Any plan must be approved by the 3rd District Court.
Before any homes are turned over to community members, they must sell off some of the property to pay off $7 million in debt that has accumulated during this multi-year court battle. The properties are estimated to be worth at least $100 million.
Jeffs has continued to try to lead his roughly 10,000 followers from prison in Texas, where he is serving a life term.
This week, Texas officials announced that it will seek ownership of Jeffs' massive ranch where prosecutors said the convicted polygamist sect leader and his followers sexually assaulted dozens of children.
A judge will determine whether to grant Texas control of the nearly 1,700-acre property owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The total value of the land is appraised at more than $33 million, local tax records show.
The town hall meeting to deal with FLDS property in Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. at El Capitan School in Colorado City.