Colorado City Neighbor Hildale Says Justice Department's Claims Are "Disguised" as Facts

See also: Colorado City Sued by Justice Department
See also: Mohave County Sheriff's Office to Patrol Colorado City
See also:
Someone Buried a Cat on Ex-FLDS Member's Property
See also:
New Times special report: Polygamy in Arizona

Colorado City and its neighboring town of Hildale -- the former stomping grounds of child-rapist Warren Jeffs -- both responded to the Justice Department's civil-rights lawsuit, and both towns want the suit tossed.

The feds say the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Jeffs are still running Colorado City and the neighboring Utah town of Hildale to their fanatical religious liking, and attorneys for Hildale say the government isn't even producing facts.

"In support of [discriminatory-policing claims], the United States sets forth conclusions or conclusory allegations disguised as statements of fact, both of which are insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief," Hildale's response says.

Later in the response, Hildale's attorneys say several of the allegations "are so ambiguous and unintelligible that [Hildale] cannot reasonably prepare a full and complete response."

The Justice Department set out about 20 allegations of unconstitutional policing in its lawsuit, claiming non-FLDS individuals were targeted by the Marshal's Office, while FLDS members were protected.

That's the reason Attorney General Tom Horne had to get together the money to send the Mohave County Sheriff's Office to patrol the place.

You can read some of the allegedly "unintelligible" allegations below, all of which can be found in the lawsuit itself:

  • Non-FLDS individuals experience the hardship and mental and physical stress resulting from the knowledge that the Marshal's Office will not come to their aid in time of need. For example, in January 2012, a woman who was, in effect, excommunicated by the FLDS, fled her home in the Cities with her six young daughters after learning that FLDS leaders demanded that she sever all contact with five of her six children. This woman believed, based on its policies and previous actions, that the Marshal's Office would not come to her assistance to protect her parental rights if she complained about the FLDS edict separating mothers from their children. She decided, as many other non-FLDS members have done, to flee with her children under cover of darkness to safety outside of the Cities. The failure and refusal of the Marshal's Office to protect all citizens without regard to religion has given rise to an "underground railroad," composed of non-FLDS members who provide safe havens and a means of egress for individuals abandoned by law enforcement.
  • The Marshal's Office has conducted traffic stops on multiple occasions in response to FLDS church members' requests that they find out the identity of the occupants of a vehicle.
  • In one instance, in 2000, Jeffs issued an order for a then-FLDS member to return an underage bride, who had fled her new husband's home, to FLDS leaders. Unaware that the then-FLDS member had already complied, three Marshal's Deputies confronted him demanding that he return her to FLDS leaders. The Deputies drove official Marshal's Office vehicles when they aggressively confronted the then-FLDS member. One of the Marshal's Deputies involved in this incident remains employed by the Marshal's Office, and another was the Marshal who resigned in or around April 2012.
  • In 2001, Jeffs issued an edict that all domestic dogs would be banned from the Cities. Less than one month later, in compliance with Jeffs's edict, Marshal's Deputies went to each household in the Cities and asked residents to turn over any dogs that they had in the home to the Officers. The Marshal's Deputies then shot and killed the dogs in a slaughter pit a short distance from the Cities. Two of the Marshal's Deputies involved in this incident remain employed by the Marshal's Office.
  • On or about May 18, 2010, a group of non-FLDS children attempted to play at the [public park]. A Marshal's Deputy told the children that they could not play at the Park and threatened them with arrest if they continued to play.

Hildale specifically takes issue with the word "victimization" in one of the allegations, and in one of the instances above, the attorneys demand the definition of "traffic stop."

Colorado City's attorneys make somewhat similar claims, stating in their response that nothing is specific enough for them to respond to -- they want names, dates, and other information about the incidents mentioned. Those things will very likely come out in discovery, but Colorado City's attorneys claim they can't even respond to the lawsuit without knowing all this.

Both towns also dispute the housing-rights violations, and want the lawsuit tossed. If not, the towns request that the feds get a whole lot more specific in the allegations.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley