It doesn’t take a prophet to foresee widespread effects of FLDS abuse

Say it ain’t so, Warren Jeffs.

It turns out the exalted polygamist poobah and religious cult figure hasn’t always been so sure of his calling as a holy man and facilitator of forced marriage, rape and child molestation.

Just last January as he squatted in the Purgatory Correctional Facility near St. George, Utah, before his rape trial, Jeffs had an epiphany of conscience about his role as prophet and procurer for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In taped telephone conversations, Jeffs renounced his role as prophet and told family and friends he was a “wicked” man for the immoral acts he committed with a sister and a daughter. He repeated those and other admissions during a jailhouse visit with his brother, Nephi.

The 51-year-old Jeffs’ statements appeared in a court document unsealed on Tuesday. Although he retracted his admissions in February — he’s fickle as well as fundamental — the statements give the rest of us a glimpse of the caliber of twisted character the Utah justice system is at last dealing with. We’re learning that Jeffs, in addition to being an astute businessman capable of amassing a vast fortune under the guise of his prophet status, suffers from depression and other mental health issues.

Jeffs still has time for more epiphanies before his scheduled sentencing on Nov. 20 for two felony rape-as-an-accomplice convictions. Although he faces 5 years to life for the Utah convictions and has trials awaiting him in federal and state court in Arizona, a harsh sentence would be a first in recent history in the region, where “don’t ask, don’t tell” has a whole other meaning.

Although one Utah newspaper called Jeffs’ admissions a “bombshell,” they come as no surprise to Flora Jessop, a woman who managed to survive being born into an FLDS polygamist family in Colorado City. She survived a childhood molestation and ran away from home at 16 to escape a forced marriage. At 38, she has spent the past decade advocating for the rights of women and children inside polygamist clans.

Although the national media closely followed the Jeffs story of forcing teen girls to marry selected church members, she says it largely missed a greater truth: Incest, rape, and sodomy are common inside the cult, and no one does much about it.

Utah authorities charged with child health, welfare, and safety have done next to nothing, Jessop alleges. Over the years, she says, she’s provided sufficient evidence to warrant the removal of young people and spouses from polygamist households, only to have her efforts shelved.

Jessop says she’s even taken signed affidavits of victims to entities ranging from the Utah attorney general’s office to the Mormon Church. The result: inaction.

Could the climate be changing in the wake of the conviction of Jeffs?

It couldn’t come too soon, Jessop says.

She reels off incidents involving several teen girls, including a child named Ruby who was brutally raped following a forced marriage. The girl suffered a near-fatal hemorrhage. No one was ever arrested.

Then there are the so-called “Lost Boys” of Colorado City, who have been sent away from the polygamist community for a variety of reasons. Jessop has collected the names of 109 young men excommunicated from the sect who were sexual abuse victims and victimizers.

“The problem is, it’s not staying in Colorado City,” she says. “These boys didn’t get kicked out of Colorado City and say, ‘I think I’ll become a sex offender.’ They were victims of sexual abuse and have become offenders themselves. It’s reaching into and harming families out here now.”

Flora Jessop says it took her years to develop her own identity and “to transition out of this stuff and just get to the point where you can exist in the real world.”

For years, authorities wrote off the victims of the FLDS cult.

Jessop recalls, “I would tell people that this is where I’m from and this is going on, and people would say, ‘You’re a liar. This is America. This kind of thing doesn’t happen.'”

But it was happening, is happening, and the Jeffs case and admissions illustrate what’s been going on.

Flora Jessop says, “His conviction has validated every single victim who has come out of there for 20 years.”

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295.

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like