A wife in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints alleges a bishop in the polygamous sect ordered her to be evicted from her home after she proclaimed support for a rival leader, according to court documents.
In a protective order, Ruth Steed, 26, wrote that she was called before Lyle Jeffs, the bishop of the twin border towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz. Steed is married to William E. Jessop, who is attempting to wrest legal control of the sect from jailed leader Warren S. Jeffs.
"This eviction began with a requested interview by Lyle, who asked me my loyalty," she wrote. "Upon my commitment to stay with my husband, an eviction was ordered by Lyle."
Moccasin, Ariz., Justice Court Judge Mitchell Kalauli granted her a protective order Monday against 61-year-old Alan Jeffs, who allegedly removed her things from the home. The order has yet to be served, and Alan Jeffs didn't immediately return a call for comment.
The eviction led to Jessop's arrest last week. On Thursday, Steed received a call asking her to immediately move out of the home on the 100 North block of Oak Street in Colorado City. When Jessop arrived from Colorado to help her, he was arrested for trespassing, she wrote.
Steed went to court the next day to get an injunction allowing her to stay.
"When I returned to my home, I found my personal property out on the back lawn," she wrote in the application, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune. She stayed in with a friend.
Jessop, 41, filed papers last month to take over the church's Corporation of the President from Warren Jeffs, 55, who is in Texas awaiting trial on sexual-assault and bigamy charges related to alleged underage marriages. Leaders loyal to Warren Jeffs, including his brother Lyle, are fighting that claim, and the power struggle will likely move to a courtroom.
Jessop's arrest wasn't the only disturbance in the twin towns last week. During the weekend, a cache of books meant for a library operated by a non-FLDS member were stolen and some were burned in an apparent bonfire.
The incidents come as FLDS leaders battle for legal control of the communal property trust that holds nearly all the homes and land in Hildale and Colorado City. The state of Utah took over the trust in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement by FLDS trustees, who didn't respond to lawsuits.
This year, a federal judge ruled the takeover was unconstitutional and, earlier this month, signed a preliminary injunction returning temporary control of the approximately $110 million trust to the FLDS.
But attorneys for the state protested, saying control of the trust shouldn't be returned to leaders who had previously used it to evict people from their homes. Judges at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay blocking the hand-over last week, and on Monday, they denied an FLDS motion to reconsider the stay.