Wanted: Armed and Dangerous

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"There's no real evidence that he himself is a flight risk," Pluss maintained.

While Seth Jeffs has been released from federal custody for the time being (an arraignment hearing is scheduled November 17), his troubles with the FLDS community may have only just begun.

The younger Jeffs and his traveling companion, Nathaniel Allred, were cited by the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office with solicitation of a prostitute and prostitution, respectively. Allred, who is Seth and Warren Jeffs' nephew, told police he was paid $5,000 by Seth Jeffs for "sexual companionship."

Allred was "shaking uncontrollably and sweating" after deputies pulled over the vehicle he was driving that had just exited Interstate 25 and was traveling westbound on U.S. 50, according to police reports. Seth Jeffs was in the back of the vehicle reclining on a mattress.

Seth Jeffs refused deputies' request to search the vehicle. The deputy then called out a narcotics dog. Seth Jeffs then told deputies "he did not want us to go inside the vehicle because he had a lot of money inside the vehicle and did not want it to get stolen."

Seth Jeffs said he had given Nathaniel Allred $5,000 for computer work Allred had done for him.

But when deputies interviewed Allred, he denied being paid the money for any computer work.

"I asked Nathaniel what kind of relationship he had with Seth and he put his head down," the deputy's report states. "I asked him if he had a sexual relationship with Seth and he said, 'Yes.'"

Seth Jeffs denied he was having sex with Allred, but Nathaniel assured deputies he was telling the truth.

The gay sex scandal is rocking the FLDS community. Men may have multiple wives, but homosexuality is forbidden by the church. In fact, Seth Jeffs has at least three wives.

"This is the biggest scandal that's come down the pike in a long time," says former FLDS member and longtime Colorado City resident Isaac Wyler.

If the prostitution allegations are true, Seth Jeffs would be stripped of his wives and children and be kicked out of the FLDS under church doctrine. That is, unless his brother weighs in and somehow saves him. Warren could claim, for instance, that the charges are trumped up in an attempt to discredit him with church faithful.

The misdemeanor prostitution citation against Seth comes 16 months after Warren Jeffs was named a defendant in a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City by nephew Brent Jeffs, who alleged that Warren and two other uncles repeatedly sodomized him when he was a young boy.

Warren Jeffs, on the lam by then, never appeared in court to answer the civil charges. His failure to appear stunned his excommunicated rival, Winston Blackmore.

"What would have been wrong with [Warren Jeffs'] standing up to the Brent Jeffs allegation and saying, 'I didn't do that'?" Blackmore asks.

Of course, Blackmore says, this would only have been possible if Warren had not committed the assaults.

Unlike Warren Jeffs, who has long refused to meet with the press on any issue, Blackmore is more approachable. In the recent interview, Blackmore appeared relaxed and exhibited a wry sense of humor. He asked when New Times was going to do a story about polygamists in France.

"There's 100,000 of them in Paris alone," he said, grinning over a breakfast of steak and eggs.

Blackmore's 2002 excommunication created deep divisions in the Canadian FLDS community. About 600 of the 1,000 fundamentalists in Canada sided with Blackmore, while the rest have stayed loyal to Warren Jeffs.

Blackmore has become a vocal critic of Jeffs' leadership, occasionally lambasting Jeffs and those loyal to him in the rival group's newsletter, The North Star Chronicles.

Blackmore says the Prophet is ruining the towns of Colorado City and Hildale by diverting countless millions of dollars to building the Texas compound.

He blames Jeffs for dividing families against each other and for stripping hundreds of women and children from their husbands and reassigning them to other men.

He says Warren Jeffs could have warded off the police investigation that led to his indictment if he would have simply stopped performing marriages of underage girls. All Jeffs had to do was wait until the girls were 18, Blackmore says, and the authorities never would have seen fit to step in.

"I don't know why this guy feels so duty-bound to defy a simple little rule," Blackmore says.

He says he has received personal assurances from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff that Utah has no intention of prosecuting polygamist families if no spiritual marriages of underage girls are involved.

"Shurtleff said to me, 'I guarantee we wouldn't be having this conversation about polygamy if somebody in the organization would stand up and say, "They must be 18,"'" Blackmore says.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty