Some FLDS believers moved to a site near Eldorado, Texas, where a new temple was constructed, and many others left Short Creek in ensuing years for other FLDS enclaves around the western U. Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to rape in 2007 in Utah, and later extradited to Texas where he was convicted of child sexual abuse after a raid on the Texas compound, and sentenced to life plus 20 years.Still, Warren Jeffs remained as prophet to the FLDS faithful, and Short Creek remained politically in the grips of the church.
The believers sought a remote locale to practice plural marriage, which the LDS Church had abandoned as a doctrine in 1890.
The FLDS grew out of a split in the initial settlers, and Warren Jeffs’ father Rulon led the church in Short Creek from 1986 until his death in 2002, when Warren Jeffs became “President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator,” marrying most of his father’s nearly two dozen wives.
“At that time, Jeffs ran the place with an iron fist,” Dougherty says, “and no one dared breach one of his rules or edicts or they faced being summarily tossed out of the church, which he did a number of times to leading figures in the community.” As for elections, Jeffs would pick the candidates for Hildale and Colorado City public offices from among the FLDS faithful, who would then run unopposed.
Due to Jeffs’ racist, homophobic, misogynistic teachings, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the FLDS as a hate group in 2005. The attorney general of Utah froze the UEP and seized its land holdings in Colorado City and Hildale, eventually placing the property in the control of a board of trustees.
Jessop is a former FLDS member who left the sect five years ago after she says FLDS leaders tried to break up her family.