Longform

Cover-Up (Arizona Attorney General internal memo)

Page 4 of 4

Additional interviews revealed that Barlow had allegedly molested four other daughters over a long period, including a 13-year-old daughter. But prior to trial, four of the five daughters declined to testify against their father, who is the son of longtime Colorado City mayor Dan Barlow Sr.

While the Attorney General's Office can avoid prosecuting street crime cases that are typically handled at the county level, the memo states that criminal allegations involving the Department of Economic Security are far harder to ignore.

"AG jurisdiction involving DES function appears to be unavoidable," the memo states.

There are plenty of indications that there are grounds to take action.

"Welfare fraud in Colorado City is widespread," the memo states. "Polygamous wives and mothers, many underage, are assisted as single individuals."

Mohave County officials estimate that Colorado City gets about $8 in services of every tax dollar paid. The average elsewhere in the county is $1.25.

"Inescapably taxpayers have ended up in support of this cult's lifestyle," the memo states before concluding that the attorney general has the responsibility to enforce welfare laws.

"Our jurisdiction in the disposition of state and federal funds through state offices is obvious," the memo states.

The Attorney General's Office is also responsible for enforcing the state Constitution -- which outlaws polygamy.

Outlawed or not, there is tacit support for plural marriages from even mainstream members of the Mormon Church, the AG memo asserts. The Mormon Church banned polygamy in the 1890s as a condition of Utah's statehood. But the ban wasn't accepted by more conservative members of the church, who continued the patterns in remote enclaves, mostly in Utah and Arizona.

"Mainline Mormon ambivalence stems from the fact that multiple wifery is one of the eternal principles' of Mormonism," the memo states. "Having multiple wives prepares men for celestial status."

By focusing on polygamy in the isolated FLDS community straddling the Arizona-Utah border, former governor Pyle ended his political career.

Nearly 50 years later, Attorney General Janet Napolitano finds herself the Democratic nominee for governor.

But as the state's top prosecutor, Napolitano has failed to prosecute a single case stemming from a two-year investigation into a cult her own investigators say is engaging in violence and subjugation of women and children.

This is no longer simply a question of lifestyle and religious freedom.

Napolitano's special investigations unit reveals a town in the iron grip of brutal leaders who have engaged in illegal acts including rape, incest, assault, weapons violations, kidnapping and fraud.

Rather than encouraging appropriate legal action to protect young women from being repeatedly raped by their fathers, Napolitano's special investigations unit appears more concerned with keeping the allegations out of the press and dodging its constitutional duty to enforce the law.

"If someone is actually crying out and asking for help, and we are not doing anything about it, that is really sad," says Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson.

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.
John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty