Cover-Up (Arizona Attorney General internal memo)

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"They routinely trade across the Canadian border with the commune up there," Flora Jessop says. "They take girls from down here and ship them up there to marry men and bring girls from up there down here."

The Attorney General's Office official depiction of limited information also stands in sharp contrast to its own special investigations memo, which warns that there is very high potential for a blood bath in Colorado City.

"Arizona has a Waco-level problem in Colorado City," the memo states.

"The community of 8,000 residents is in the control of a fundamentalist Mormon cult . . . that practices polygamy, engages in violence and subjugation of women and children, and is ruled by a prophet' whose sexual behavior (at least in the past) and predictions of apocalypse are similar to those of David Koresh of the Branch Davidians."

The prophet, 92-year-old Rulon Jeffs, died on September 8. A power struggle to assume control of tens of millions of dollars' worth of assets in addition to dictatorial power as the leader of the cult is now under way in Colorado City and the adjoining polygamous town of Hildale, Utah.

The heir apparent is Warren Jeffs, who has been ruling the religious communities the last several years after his father became incapacitated. Jeffs has steadily increased the fundamentalist doctrine imposed on the community members.

"Among his recent edicts are the trafficking in girls and young women with more favored males in the city, the preparation of the townsfolk for a mass lifting up' in the community garden in the center of town and the removal of some 830 children from the public school, an order given in the summer of 2000," the special investigation's memo states.

The memo also alludes to a massive arsenal that is being built up in the community to defend the town from a long-anticipated battle with law enforcement.

"Reports from escaped women and other so-called apostates' reveal the FLDS men of the community to be armed with light battlefield weaponry, including grenade launchers," the memo states. "They are said to welcome an apocalypse.'"

The Attorney General's Office has received 13 complaints over the last two years, the memo states. The most recent is from Stephanie Lynn Olsen.

On April 16, 2002, Olsen sent a letter begging Napolitano to take action.

"Please help the women and children trapped in Colorado City," her letter begins.

Olsen's letter states she is in hiding in Mesa and "in fear for my life."

Her letter describes a terrifying ordeal that began after she complained to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office in October 2000 concerning the rape of her 15-year-old cousin by a member of the powerful Jessop family in Colorado City.

Upon her return to Colorado City, Olsen states in her letter to Napolitano that she, too, was severely beaten and raped.

"I don't have my front teeth anymore," she states.

The letter states that Olsen left her two children in Colorado City and that she fears they are being punished.

"Their father is my uncle," her letter states.

Olsen states in her letter and affidavit filed with the Attorney General's Office that she has not been contacted by the Mohave County law enforcement officials since she left Kingman on October 17, 2000.

The internal investigations memo briefly mentions Olsen's complaint and simply notes she is remaining quiet.

"It is our understanding that Stephanie Lynn Olsen is avoiding the press," it states.

The Attorney General's Office has also received 20 administrative investigations from Child Protective Services and the office of Children, Youth and Families. The office has also received notice of criminal actions from Mohave County on three occasions.

Despite the mounting evidence of serious ongoing child abuse, the Attorney General's Office has taken a hands-off approach.

"We have declined to prosecute on the grounds that the case must first be prosecuted at the county level," the memo states.

The memo warns, however, that the attorney general "acts in a supervisory capacity in terms of county attorneys," implying that the office can take action if Mohave County fails to enforce the law.

Records show Mohave County has been lax in prosecuting child abuse allegations coming out of Colorado City. And when the county does take action, the penalties are lenient.

Last spring, Dan Barlow Jr. pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse after being charged with molesting his five daughters. He received a suspended 120-day sentence and was released after serving only 13 days in jail. He was ordered to register as a sex offender and must serve 500 hours of community service.

The case began last December when Barlow's wife and 17-year-old daughter described to Colorado City police a pattern of sexual abuse that began when the daughter was 15 or 16 years old, according to press accounts of the trial.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty