U.S. Department of Justice sues twin polygamist towns in Arizona, Utah

June 21, 2012

The U.S. Justice Department is suing towns in Arizona and Utah said to be controlled by a fundamentalist Mormon sect. Most residents in the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz., are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That church still recognizes Warren Jeffs as its leader. Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison on bigamy and child sex convictions.

Thursday, the Department of Justice filed suit against the two towns on civil rights grounds, claiming they discriminate against non-FLDS residents. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne applauded the decision. He claims women who try to escape polygamist homes are often returned to their husband by local police.

“I’ve given a grant of $400,000 to the Mohave County Sheriff to keep someone located in Colorado City sixteen hours a day," Horne said, "so that, for example, if a woman wants to escape one of these harems, there’s somebody she can go to that will enforce the law, and she doesn’t have to worry about the local Marshals catching her and bringing her back and imprisoning her.”

Horne pushed for a bill in the Arizona legislature this year that would have disbanded Colorado City’s police department. The bill failed, as did a similar one in Utah. Horne hopes it will pass next year.

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