San Angelo, Texas - A member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Frederick Merril Jessop, owes about $170,000 in child support to a woman with whom he had eight children before she left the FLDS, the woman's attorney said.
Natalie Malonis, representing Carolyn Jessop, said the decision for child support was reached in September, although the order had not been put in writing.
A hearing was held Thursday so that 51st District Judge Barbara Walther could sign the order and enforce the child support payments rather than wait for the signatures of the FLDS member's attorneys.
"We made an oral agreement," Malonis said about the September hearing. "The next step was a written order."
Malonis said that she wrote up the oral agreement in December but that she could not get the signature of the attorney for Frederick Merril Jessop.
"It's important because without that written order, we can't enforce the child support," Malonis said.
Frederick Merril Jessop, who lives at the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County, has been indicted on a third-degree felony for allegedly performing a marriage ceremony of a minor whose marriage the law prohibits.
He is scheduled for trial Oct. 11.
Frederick Merril Jessop's attorney, Amy Hennington, could not be reached for comment.
Malonis said the child support was meant to retroactively cover the period from 2003 to the date of the oral agreement in September; Frederick Merril Jessop was to pay $2,350 a month.
Malonis said the retroactive payments, which amount to about $148,000, and the payments up to now have become due all at once since Jessop has defaulted on them.
"It's like if you default on a loan, the bank can accelerate it," Malonis said.
Malonis said the next step is enforcement of the payments. She said Jessop may be held in contempt if he does not pay.
"He can either pay what he owes, or he can be held in jail until he does pay," Malonis said.