Here is a look at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), a religious sect that broke away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, over the practice of polygamy.
2002-present – Warren Jeffs is the spiritual leader of the FLDS. His brother, Lyle Jeffs, overseas daily affairs.
2011 – Warren Jeffs is sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault of a child under age 14, and 20 years for the sexual assault of a child under age 17.
The FLDS has an estimated 10,000 members, most of whom live in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah. The group also has followers near Eldorado, Texas, and in South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, British Columbia, and Mexico.
The spiritual leader of the FLDS church is considered a prophet of God. He is the only person able to perform marriage and can punish followers by “reassigning” their wives and children to other men.
They believe in practicing polygamy.
Critics of the FLDS maintain that underage females are often forced into marriages with older men.
Eleven of 12 suspects from the 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch have been tried and convicted on charges of child sexual assault, bigamy, or performing an unlawful marriage. The charges against Lloyd H. Barlow, the doctor indicted on three charges of failure to report child abuse, were dismissed.
1890 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, suspends the practice of polygamy in order to gain statehood for Utah. Members who continue to practice polygamy are excommunicated.
1930s – Fundamentalists who practiced polygamy are excommunicated by the Mormon church and settle in Arizona.
July 26, 1953 – Thirty-six men, 86 women, and 263 children are either arrested or taken into custody during a pre-dawn raid in Arizona.
– The men are placed on probation after promising to discontinue practicing polygamy.
– Most of the women and children return to the ranch after two years of being wards of the state of Arizona.
November 1986 – FLDS prophet and leader LeRoy Johnson dies at age 98, after leading the FLDS since 1954.
1986-2002 – Rulon T. Jeffs rules as prophet of FLDS until his death at age 92.
September 8, 2002 – Rulon T. Jeffs’ son, Warren Jeffs, becomes prophet.
May 2005 – A Utah court freezes the assets of the United Effort Plan trust, which encompasses all of the FLDS sect’s land, houses and other assets. The trust, established in the 1940s, is worth more than $100 million. While the trust was established for the benefit of all FLDS members, critics charge that Warren Jeffs has used it to punish dissenters by kicking them out of their homes.
June 9-10, 2005 – Warren Jeffs is indicted in Mohave County, Arizona, on felony charges of arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a 28-year-old man, who was already married. A state warrant is issued for Jeffs’ arrest, although he hasn’t been seen in public for months.
2006 – In the ongoing dispute over the United Effort Plan trust, a judge strips the trust of its religious tenets and allows former church members to join as beneficiaries.
April 6, 2006 – Jeffs is charged in Utah as an accomplice to rape for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and an adult man.
May 6, 2006 – The FBI places Jeffs on its top 10 most-wanted list of fugitives.
August 28, 2006 – Jeffs is arrested after being pulled over for a routine traffic stop near Las Vegas.
January 28, 2007 – Attempts to hang himself in his cell while awaiting trial.
September 25, 2007 – Jeffs is found guilty of two counts of rape by an accomplice in Utah. He is sentenced to ten years to life in prison.
April 4-7, 2008 – In response to phone calls to a family violence hotline alleging abuse and rape, police raid the FLDS Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch in Eldorado, Texas.
– 416 children are initially removed from the YFZ Ranch (The number of children removed rises to 468 after some of the mothers are determined to be younger than 18). About 130 women voluntarily leave the compound.
May 22, 2008 – The Texas Third Court of Appeals in Austin rules that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) illegally removed the children from their families.
May 29, 2008 – The Texas Supreme Court upholds the appellate court’s ruling, 6-3.
July 22, 2008 – A Texas grand jury indicts Warren Jeffs and other FLDS members, on bigamy and sexual assault charges.
June 9, 2010 – An Arizona judge dismisses the four charges against Jeffs of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor, due to his more serious pending charges in Texas.
July 27, 2010 – The Utah Supreme Court overturns Jeffs’ two 2007 convictions by reason of erroneous jury instructions and orders a new trial.
November 30, 2010 – Jeffs is extradited from Utah to Texas to stand trial on two charges of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.
December 29, 2010 – Pleas of not guilty are entered on Jeffs’ behalf. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of up to 99 years in prison.
July 25, 2011 – Trial begins in Texas on charges of sexual assault of a child. Jeffs is granted the request to represent himself.
August 4, 2011 – Jeffs is convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child under age 14 and sexual assault of a child under age 17.
August 9, 2011 – Jeffs is sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault of a child under age 14 and 20 years for sexual assault of a child under age 17.
January 2012 – Texas prison officials find Jeffs guilty of “a major disciplinary infraction” for violating policy by making conference calls to preach to his congregation.
October 9, 2012 – The bigamy charges against already-imprisoned Jeffs and three other sect members are dismissed. The motion states “in the interest of judicial economy, the State moves to dismiss the indictment.”
November 28, 2012 – The Texas Attorney General’s Office announces it has begun legal proceedings to seize the 1,600-acre YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas.
April 17, 2014 – Officials confirm that Texas authorities have initiated the seizure of the YFZ Ranch.
February 23, 2016 – Eleven FLDS members, including Lyle Jeffs, are indicted. They are accused of fraud and money laundering.
March 7, 2016 – A federal jury finds that the city governments in Short Creek — Hildale on the Utah side and Colorado City on the Arizona side — were so corrupted by the FLDS that they discriminated against non-members by denying them police service, water hookups and other utilities. A federal judge has set aside four days in late October for testimony to help him decide what steps to take.
June 2016 – While under house arrest awaiting a fraud trial, it is discovered that Lyle Jeffs removed his FBI tracking bracelet and fled.
April 18, 2017 – Federal Judge H. Russel Holland rules that police in the Short Creek community along the Arizona-Utah border must retrain officers and hire an independent mentor after discriminating against non-members of the sect and turning a blind eye to church misconduct. The order will last for 10 years.
June 14, 2017 – A tip leads to Jeffs’ arrest in Yankton, South Dakota. He had been on the run for over a year.
August 4, 2017 – The court announces Jeffs’ trial is postponed until October.
September 5, 2017 – Warren Jeffs is ordered to pay $16 million to a former child bride.
December 13, 2017 – Lyle Jeffs is sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for his role in food stamp fraud and escaping house arrest.
June 18, 2019 – District Court Judge Richard McKelvie rules that a community board is authorized to decide who is entitled to buy homes and commercial properties in the United Effort Plan trust, ending court oversight that began in 2005.
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