Warren Jeffs: Lawsuit says polygamist leader ordered break-in
The onetime spokesman for Warren Jeffs has filed a $100-million lawsuit against the polygamous sect leader, saying Jeffs asked him to falsify church records and arranged a break-in at his excavating business when he refused.
The lawsuit offers a window into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the reportedly vicious politics of Jeffs, who was recently sentenced to life in prison in Texas for sexually assaulting two young girls whom he said were his spiritual brides.
Former sect spokesman Willie Jessop said in court papers that Jeffs asked him last year to put a letter containing false information in church records, which the sect considers sacred, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The letter was intended to cast doubt on allegations that Jeffs had married two different underage girls in Texas.
Jessop said he knew the information in the letter was false and refused to add it to the records, according to the lawsuit. In response, Jeffs had him excommunicated and demanded he leave the sect's enclave, which straddles the Utah-Arizona border. Jessop wouldn’t budge.
In April, Jessop said in court papers, someone broke into his excavating business and stole computers, hard drives and other files, the Tribune reported. Jessop blamed Jeffs and his associates. Jeffs is well-known for aggressive acts of retaliation, including expelling hundreds of teenagers -- the so-called “Lost Boys” -- reportedly to reduce competition for the sect’s women.
A few months after the alleged break-in, Jeffs was sentenced to prison in Texas. He remains the sect’s leader, however, and recently ordered members to hand over their personal possessions to church officials, who’d determine if they're worthy of getting them back.
-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas
Photo: Warren Jeffs watches his attorney speak in court in St. George, Utah, in 2007. Credit: Jud Burkett/Associated Press