Man fighting eviction says he did nothing to lose church status

Associated Press/March 4, 2004

Judge James Chavez scheduled a March 18 hearing for attorneys to present closing arguments in the effort targeting Ross Chatwin, 35, a father of six children who has been directed to leave the home he's occupied for more than three years. Plaintiff's attorney Rodney Parker argued that Chatwin is a "tenant at will" subject to eviction at the whim of the United Effort Plan, the trust that owns most of the land in Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, Utah. The trust is controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a splinter offshoot of the mainline Mormon church.

From the home he's been asked to vacate, Chatwin held a Jan. 23 press conference denouncing the dictates of the church.

Chatwin's wife, Lori, testified Tuesday that UEP President and self-proclaimed church prophet Warren Jeffs directed her to stop sleeping with her husband so that he would be "disciplined."

Ross Chatwin testified he had been brought up with the belief that he would be a lifelong tenant of church-held property.

He refuted the suggestion that he engaged in any behavior that would cause him to lose status as a church member.

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