State vs Theocrat State: Utah takeover of FLDS property unconstitutional
Like most fundamentalist cults led by a charismatic theocratic dictator, FLDS also devolved to a dictator-run commune, where the the Theocratic state owned everything. With the plethora of claims against the cult, the state of Utah is trying to take the property to satisfy claims.
Valued at $110 million, the trust contains nearly all the property in the group’s home base in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., along with its settlement in Canada.
Called the United Effort Plan, the trust was created in 1942 to fulfill the fundamentalist Mormon principle of communally holding property.
Before the state takeover, it suffused nearly all aspects of life for the church’s approximately 10,000 members. Their homes belonged to the trust, they worked in trust fields, factories and dairies, and the food they ate came from the trust, Benson wrote. All decisions were made by church leaders based on FLDS principles such as commitment to the faith.
The 2005 state takeover was virtually unprecedented, Benson wrote.
“The defendants cite no case that is even suggested to be remotely similar enough to the instant case to support their defense. This is because there isn’t one,” he wrote.
The Attorney General’s Office made the move after FLDS trustees failed to respond to lawsuits filed in 2004 by former members seeking damages for abuse they suffered under Jeffs. The plaintiffs included a nephew who said Jeffs and other uncles sexually assaulted him as a child and six “lost boys,” young men who said they were forced to leave the community to reduce the competition for wives.
State officials said they feared people could lose their homes if those plaintiffs were awarded hefty sums in damages. The trust was structured so that if it failed, ownership reverted to Jeffs, who, in 2006, was charged with rape as an accomplice for presiding over the marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old girl and her cousin. His conviction was later overturned.