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Polygamists

Polygamists

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Published by Josh Loftin

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Published by: Josh Loftin on Nov 07, 2011
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11/18/2013

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W
hen Jetho Balow went toa Sunda woship service atthe Fundamentalist Chuchof Jesus Chist of Latte Da Saints Chuch in ColoradoCit, Aiz., with some of his 19childen on Feb. 23, 2003, twofellow deout chuch mem-bes stopped him befoe heenteed. Afte allowin hischilden inside, the then baed him fom entry.“I’e been told to tell ou that ou ae not welcome,” oneof the men said to Balow.Balow was amon the fist of what would be moe than200 men and 1,000 male ouths banished b FLDS Pophetaen Jeffs. Jeffs led the chuch fom 2002-07 befoehis aest in Septembe 2007 on two counts of rape as anaccomplice, chaes fo which he was subsequentl con-icted and is cuentl servin two consecutie sentencesof fie eas-to-life in the Utah State Pison. Afte bein baed fom the chuch, Balow went hometo the two-story, seen-bedoom house in Hildale, Utah,he’d built with his two wies, Joan and Shilee, and toldthem what had happened. Joan started lauhin, hopin it meant the could leae the FLDS communit that sheconsideed epessie.The childen wee less pleased. When the left the chuchafte the service, the conegation parted and tuned thei backs towad the Balow offspin, as if the wee lepes.The news was hadl unexpected. Jetho, an accountantfo 30 eas who had been instumental in buildin theFLDS communit, had been on a Jeffs’ memo listin men inthe communit whose piesthood authoit was in question. Without that authoit, accodin to FLDS beliefs, he wouldbe unable to take his wies to the celestial kindom. “I kindof fiued I had to et mself thee,” Joan jokes.Unlike most of those whom Waen Jeffs kicked outof his chuch and town, Jetho left the communit withhis two wies and most of his childen—onl fie adultchilden staed. To this da, the estranement of thosefie, whom Jeffs assined to one of Jetho’s bothes asthei new fathe, is had fo Jetho and fist wife, Joan, todiscuss. A justice of the peace maied Jetho and Joan in1974, when he was 22 and she was 15.“I don’t know if I can,” Joan sas, when asked to speak about he fie estraned childen, tryin seeral timesbefoe trailin into a painful, thoat-thickened silence.Fo two eas, the Balows stuled to find wok and a new home. Then, in Ma 2005, Jetho Balow washied as a consultant to Salt Lake Cit-based accountantBuce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary fo theUnited Effort Plan Tust.The tust, with assets of moe than $110 million, owns85 pecent of the land and housin built, often duin Satuda wok pojects, b the FLDS communit in thepolgamous twin townships of Hildale and Colorado Cit. Wisan took oe afte UEP tustees efused to defend thetust fom seeral lawsuits, leain the town’s esidents ulnerable to mass eictions if the lawsuits wee lost. Afte Wisan hied Jetho Balow, Jetho petitioned thetust to allow his famil to moe back into thei fome home,a mostl unfunished popert that een fou eas late  Jetho admits still doesn’t feel like a home. Jetho and a fellow exiled FLDS membe, Isaac Wle,epesent Wisan and the UEP adisory boad—made up of mostl ex-FLDS membes—in what the initiall thouht would be an effort of “escuin a distessed tust.” In thepast ea and a half, howee, that escue has become a icious fiht between the tust and its fome administra-tos—the FLDS Chuch—oe the lies and ihts of thepeople who lie thee. That fiht has come to a head in what Jetho calls a test case, namel a ciil-ihts complaint filedb seeel disabled Ron Cooke. The ex-FLDS membe sashis life is bein put in dail jeopad b the FLDS-staffedmunicipal oenment’s efusal to acknowlede his ihtto lie thee.Despite what amounts to a hihl wouht diocebetween the FLDS and the tust, Jetho wants to build
By Stephen Dark 
sd@ciwl.
phOtOS By ChaD kIrkLanD
Unid effor planrus nforcrJhro BarlowIncarcrad FLDSladr Warrn Jffs
Warren JeFFS’ heartLanD UnraveLS aS pOLygamOUS FaIthFULFIght tO keep theIr hOmeS anD LanD In gOD’S trUSt.
 
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bides, not bun them. He still lies as apolgamist and still is, as he wote in a courtdocument, “a staunch beliee in the funda-mental ihts of ou eliious communit.” Wife Joan sas, “Part of him hasn’t let oof the ood old das.” It’s as if he wants toshow his estraned childen—alon with therank-and-file FLDS membes he empathizes with—that he caes fo them and is tryin to help them. Bottom line: Jetho wantsHildale-Colorado Cit to tun into a ealtown. “Until I see a ibrant, local econom and happ childen and oun people ow-in up with a ision of fittin into this com-munit, onl then will I be content,” he sas.
rd Sd I you vis
 Jetho Balow is a cautious, eudite man with a dry wit and a fiece pide in hisMomon fundamentalism and polgamousheitae. Een thouh he feels his is “a oicehowlin in the wildeness,” he has lael aoided the public limeliht.But afte FLDS spokesman Willie Jessopcharacteized anone associated with theUEP as, Jetho sas, “enemies of the com-munit,” a deepl offended Jetho decided tospeak up. “The idea I would compomise thestabilit of m own childen thee is totall foein,” he sas.Neithe Willie Jessop no an epesenta-tie fom the FLDS Chuch etuned callsfo comment made to FLDS Chuch attone,Rod Pake.Thee is a pofound disconnect, Jethosas, between loall contibutin FLDSChuch membes and those eapin the ben-efits. The FLDS Chuch leadeship ilifies Wisan “and keeps eerybod well-distractedfom the fact that thei oganization cannotbalance its books.”That lack of balance comes fom the FLDSChuch’s cuent administration bein what Jetho calls “a Ponzi scheme whee pomisesae made of housin, wies and salationthat outun thei abilit to delie.” Thedistractions it uses include filin “dozens of  exatious, shallow, fiolous lawsuits, thenoin to the media to complain about the[UEP] lawes.”Utah Assistant Attone General TimBodil estimates the tust and the chuchhae spent moe than $1 million on atto-nes since Ma 2008—an “absolutel obscene” numbe. All of this could haebeen aoided fom the et-o, he sas, if the FLDS had shown up in court fom Da 1instead of waitin until the Ma 2008 raidon Yeanin fo Zion—the FLDS compoundin Eldorado, Texas—to decide it wanted itstownships back.The niht afte the raid, man fome Hildale-Colorado Cit esidents alleed-l chosen b Waen Jeffs to populate hisself-poclaimed hol land etuned to the Aizona-Utah stip. “The next da we beganseein Texas plates,” Isaac Wle ecalls.“The doe all niht.”But when the etuned, the found thehouses and land wee now occupied b someof the 300 fome FLDS membes who hadpetitioned the tust fo homes. The UEPhad placed between 50 and 100 nonbelie-es—all with pesonal history, financial andsweat equit inested in the buildin of thetownships—in tust poperties.Moin to the townships can be anattractie poposition. The UEP onl chaesa $100 monthl occupanc fee and enfocesa popert tax pament. Despite the UEP-FLDS tension, man of those who haeetuned also cite the peaceful, small-townatmosphee as anothe eason.If ou hae “ed sands in ou eins,” Jetho sas, thee will alwas be a “welcomehome” fom the UEP. Part of that welcomeincludes the UEP’s anticipation that occu-pants will eentuall bu thei discountedhomes fom the tust—which, if successful, would mean that Jetho Balow is helpin bin about the dissolution of the tust, which he woked so had to build befoe Jeffs thew him out.That lon-tem plan puts the tust inthe cosshais of a eliious institution that,Bodil sas, onl wants tue beliees asneihbos.Bodil descibes the situation as “a ery awkwad conflict.” Choose the FLDS, and ou’e endosin thei eliion. If ou sup-port the tust, then ou’e endosin theseculaization of a communit—not, heacknowledes, that Jetho and Wle wouldsee it that wa. “The would sa the’e sim-pl tryin to empowe indiiduals to makethei choices.” Indeed, Jetho sas the UEPis “attemptin to bin fainess into the pic-tue, so people who contibuted to [the tust]can diect whee thei popert oes.”But if indiidual choice must defe tothe communal ood—as is the case withthe FLDS Chuch—then such empowementequates as a challene to chuch authoit.Bodil sas the Attone General’s Officehas to ie equal weiht to the inteests of theFLDS and nonmembe esidents. Howee,he adds, whatee Jetho and Wle aedoin, “It’s fai to sa it’s not wokin.”Non-FLDS esidents question Utah Attone General Mak Shurtleff’s neutral-it, citin his office’s settlement poposalto ceate a subdiision of 50-ace lots onthe outskirts of Hildale-Colorado Cit fo non-FLDS UEP occupants. Jetho, fo one,sas the poposal, which was ejected b 3dDistict Court Jude Denise Lindbe, was“eall disappointin.” He feas that suchlegal oertues onl stengthen the will of the FLDS to esist the UEP.Resident Geneie Hainline knows how esolute the FLDS can be. He mothe, CoraLee Witt, alleedl was thown out of he UEP home in 1981 b the FLDS Chuch, alon  with Hainline, then ae 1. Now a mothe of thee small childen heself, Hainlinefouht fo eiht months to et electicit toa undown UEP house she’s emodelin. Fo seeral months, local FLDS cops often ques-tioned he when she woked in he back- ad. She’s also endued harassment fom aneihbo who claims a garae on he lot.“This fiht has been oin on sincebefoe I was bon,” she sas. “The’e nee oin to quit.”
 t Ifo
 Jetho Balow was bon in 1952 into theequialent of polgamous oal blood. Hisfathe, Joseph, was an odained patiach of the communit, a town council membe andleadin businessman, with fou wies and60 childen. Jetho was his fathe’s iht-hand man, wokin with him on dozens of famil busi-nesses. He was also deepl inoled with theUnited Effort Plan Tust, an oganizationset up in 1942 to bank land donated b FLDSmembes, on which followes could buildhouses with communit help and withouesortin to debt.In 1990, then-Pophet Rulon Jeffs gae Jetho his second wife, 20-ea-old ShileeCooke. The met on a Monda and wee ma-ied b Thusda. To he supise, she sas,“I fell head oe heels in loe.” An FLDS inside, Jetho was inceasinl hoified b the authoitaian administra-tion of the Jeffs, Rulon and Waen. Rulon,he sas, intoduced elitism and began con-demnin entie families fo hain immoralbloodlines. Afte Rulon had a stoke, contol issuesunde his son Waen wosened. Shileefound she couldn’t talk to he mothe ohe sistes feel anmoe. “It uined m elationship with them.” Joan’s bothesstopped talkin to he, as did most of thefamil’s fiends. Jetho beliees Waen Jeffs wanted tomake an example of a senio communit fiue in the communit. What Jetho thinksfinall maked him fo expulsion was tellina tax client in the summe of 2002 that te-minall ill Rulon Jeffs would die soon, flatl contradictin Waen Jeffs’ peachin thahis fathe would lie foee. The client toldthe pophet of Jetho’s pediction, and Jeffsscolded Jetho. Afte Rulon Jeffs died in Septembe2002, Jetho could not et an audience with Waen, the new pophet. In January 2003,the list of questioned membes went aoundthe communit, and a month late, as Isaac Wle puts it, Jetho, alon with CanadianFLDS leade Winston Blackmoe, wee “pub-licl executed.”
Free at LaSt
 Jetho sas his banishment foced himto walk awa fom $1 million in equit.He handed oe the kes to his home, ada-cae cente with 120 students and25 emploees, the Mak Twain estau-rant, industial and office buildins andhis accountin business. Jetho cuentl is wokin unde a poisional account-in license, hain been cauht up in aSecuit Exchane Commission inesti-gation of a compan he sold to Salt LakeCit-based inestos.Befoe Jetho closed up shop, cli-ents picked up thei tax etuns. “Peoplecouldn’t et oe it,” Joan ecalls. “It waslike hain a funeral befoe ou died.” Jetho’s biest loss was his fathe. He went fom bein Dad to someone tryin ashad as he could to confom to Jeffs’ newl appoed ospel, which meant fosakinhis son. “I nee had a conesation withhim that wasn’t scipted fom that da on,” Jetho sas. “I nee felt ou souls touchinin communication, as we had fo so man  eas befoe.” Jetho’s expulsion, Joan sas, “sent himinto a slump so deep and dak it scaed me.” Jetho admits, “I still haen’t ot oe it. was the most steeped and had-boiled [inthe FLDS cultue]. I was bon into it.”
Jo Blow:  wo d ousidis o i hildl (blow).
 
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The wies did notshae the fustrationsof thei husband, how-ee. Joan welcomedthe escape, and whenetho and Shileedoe out of the town,Shilee sceamed, atthe top of he luns,“Feeeee-dom!”The moed toHolbook, Aiz.,the fist of seen ental moes, whee thechilden attended a school with Afican-meican and Ameican Indian students.hen Jetho went to a paent-teache con-feence, he stuled to explain his hain two bos that wee six months apart. The hid thei polgam as best the could, Jethotakin Joan eulal to a Chinese estau-rant, while his dinne dates with Shileeee at a Pizza Hut. When Wisan came knockin two easlate, Jetho was rateful fo a job. At fist, hethouht FLDS esidents would see the new tust manaement as binin elief. Butaen Jeffs, een as a fuitie fom the law,politicall outmaneueed them b instuct-in his flock to “do nothin, sa nothin.”hat included not pain popert taxes in2006. When the tust’s Wle knocked ondoos fo infomation about who lied thee,the silent teatment was, Jetho sas, “aneffectie wa to limit the fiduciary’s abilit to function.”
reJeCteD By the LOrD
Spend onl a few hous with Wle,etho’s point man, on the townships’ mostl unpaed steets, and ou come face-to-faceith FLDS esistance to the UEP. As dusk settles on Colorado Cit one lateOctobe aftenoon, silence eins, bokenonl b a cow’s lowin and the rap of Wle’siht hand against a traile’s font doo.“I think een m knuckles hae calluseson them,” the hose-fam owne sas with aboomin lauh.He raps out a thee-knock coda, epeats ittwice moe. Thee’s no answe, so he tapes adelinquent tax notice to the doo.Fo the past couple of eas, Andew Chatwin has ideotaped Wle’s eery moe each time he’sstepped on one of the UEP’s 800 pop-erties, 600 of whichFLDS membes liein. “The’e accusedhim of eerythin—of tryin to un oe old ladies, beakin into houses, andal-ism,” Chatwin sas.In Jul 2009, Wle was conicted of ciminal tespassb a Mocassin, Aiz., justice court jude,and sentenced to two eas pobation andfined $400. The sentence is bein appealed,but afte Wle’s coniction, Colorado Cit chaed Jetho and Wisan with elatedcimes. Wle paks his tuck b a lae, wood-fonted house. It had been acant fo six  eas, he sas, as he fishes out a ke fom aplastic ja full of kes. When he enteed thepopert fo the fist time, he found catsand pieons. He chaned the locks, and acouple who sined an occupanc aee-ment moed in. Een thouh the foundthe emodelin poject too bi and moedout, thei possessions wee still supposedto be thee and the occupanc aeement was still in effect. Wle, howee, head aumo that the FLDS famil who once liedthee had chaned the locks and “thew [the UEP-appoed couple’s] stuff awa.”He was checkin to see if this was tue. While Wle waits fo the local policehe’s equested to witness his inestigation, adak-blue SUV paks close to Wle’s tuck.The die, Penn Balow—not diectl elat-ed to Jetho Balow—emains in the ca,studiousl inoin Wle and Chatwin asshe talks on he cell phone. It was she andhe husband, Chatwin sas, who alleedl moed in the week pio without pemissionof the courts o the fiduciary. When a Colorado Cit police tuck aies,Penn Balow, a slende woman in an ankle-length puple dess, he hai swept back in a wae, ets out. As eeryone watches, Wle ties his ke. It doesn’t wok. Wle belieesPenn Balow has chaned the locks.Penn Balow started buildin the housein 1991 with he husband. She sas that theFLDS Chuch gae them “the land to impoeupon it. We put in the footins, the buildin,eerythin hee that ou see.” When the needed a lae place, the moed up theoad. Now, in addition to thei cuent home,the FLDS Chuch—in what Wle considesan obstuctionist moe—is diectin Penn and he husband to eclaim thei old house. Asked how lon the house has beenempt, she smiks and sas, “It’s a matte of debate.” Wle sas six eas.“You can do the math as ood as I can,”she eplies curtl.Penn Balow did not o to Texas, shesas. Wle chips in, “She’s one of the ones who ot ejected b the Lod,” efein toecoded statements b Waen Jeffs thatthose not inited to Texas wee disowned b God. Penn Balow appeas startled, accus-in Wle of ettin the infomation fom“illegall obtained ecods.” Finall, shesas, “I don’t feel ery ejected, actuall.”The UEP tust had been taken fom he chuch afte “false accusations wee made,”she sas. Unde Wisan, she sees its assetsbein dissipated “and ou just wants andneeds ae hain a ery had time bein met.” The land and its harvests “hae beenbasicall stolen fom us.”Piate owneship of the land, as eni-sioned b the UEP, she sas, is “not the wa  we wee undestood to settle hee.” He cellphone ins, she answes it, and then shepolitel asks the UEP men and the eporte to leae. Bos dessed as cowbos, seeralon miniatue ponies, watch fom the co-ne. One of them suddenl gallops oe as Wle backs out onto the steet. He staes atthe tuck’s occupants as he cicles behindit—as if challenin the UEP emploees—o diin them out. It’s a indin lae that Wle’s otten used to.“How do ou et that kind of hatedinstalled in a kid that oun?” he wondes.“That takes some seious brainwashin.” Wle’s iitated with Penn Balow.“What iht does she hae to come and etthat second house without pemission anddie the people who wee thee out?” heasks. And while Penn Balow cied foulabout FLDS membes discoein thei home locks wee chaned b the tust
“hOW DO yOU get that kInD OFhatreD InStaLLeDIn a kID thatyOUng?” ISaaCWyLer WOnDerS.“that takeSSOme SerIOUSBraInWaShIng.”

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