Man battling for presidency of FLDS cited for trespassing

The Salt Lake Tribune/April 18, 2011

A Colorado man seeking to replace polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was cited last week for trespassing at a home in Colorado City, Ariz.

Police on April 14 ticketed William Edson Jessop, 41, for trespassing at 160 N. Oak St., according to records filed with the Colorado City Consolidated Court in Moccasin, Ariz. The ticket does not specify what is at the address or what Jessop, who is scheduled to appear in court on May 8, did to warrant the citation.

Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed fiduciary overseeing the sect’s property trust as part of an ongoing lawsuit over alleged mismanagement, said there is a house on the property that belongs to the trust. A man named Daniel Williams is listed on the home’s occupancy agreement, he said.

Wisan said two of Jessop’s wives live on one level of the home with several children. The trespassing citation could have been issued in connection with an incident in which one of the wives showed affection to or expressed support for Jessop, Wisan said. While she was briefly away from the home, her possessions were put on the porch, Wisan said.

Jessop is a former bishop of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, who Jeffs in 2007 named as the sect’s "true prophet" in taped conversations from a jail cell. Jeffs later recanted the statement. Jessop in late March filed papers with the Utah Department of Commerce seeking to take legal control of the sect’s corporate entity.

Jeffs supporters allege Jessop filed false documents and have said a congregation of about 4,000 FLDS members in February unanimously supported Jeffs as president.

While imprisoned in Utah last year, Jeffs ceded control of the FLDS corporation to counselor Wendell Nielsen, but Jeffs recently reclaimed it although he is jailed awaiting trial on sexual assault and bigamy charges in Texas.

Jeffs is said to have excommunicated about 30 men, including top leaders, from the sect in recent months.

Wisan said he doesn’t know how police came to the decision to cite Jessop for trespassing but said he did not believe it was "appropriate." Calls to the Colorado City Police Department seeking information about the citation have not been returned.

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