One of the dozens of wives of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has escaped the cult’s compound — but only after being caught in her first attempt and drugged to keep her from trying again.
The told her story to sheriff’s deputies who helped the 25-year-old woman leave the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints compound in Colorado City, Utah, said Washington County Detective Nate Abbott.
He said deputies arrived on a “keep the peace” call at about 3 p.m.
“She asked for assistance in leaving the community and a deputy facilitated that request,” he said.
“The Washington County Sheriff’s Office helped a woman leave a polygamous community in Colorado City on Tuesday that is run by jailed fundamentalist sect leader Warren Jeffs,” reported Nur Kausar for the St. George Daily Spectrum.
He said no standoff took place but that he could not release where the woman was taken for reasons concerning her safety.
Willie Jessop, a former spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the Associated Press that he contacted authorities on the woman’s behalf, but declined to provide other details.
Colorado City and nearby Hildale, Utah, are the Jeffs’ former headquarters. According to court documents, Jeffs, 55, who is now serving a life sentence in prison, has at least 78 wives. DNA evidence presented during the trial proved Jeffs had fathered a child with a 15-year-old child bride. Audio recordings were played on which jurors heard him sexually assaulting a 12-year-old and instructing other minors on how to please him sexually.
By submitting to his sexual needs in sessions that Jeffs branded “heavenly” or “celestial,” the girls were told they were pleasing God and helping to atone for the sins of their community.
‘If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree,’ Jeffs wrote in a chilling journal entry from 2005 – one of thousands of pages of notes seized by authorities.
The Washington County Attorney is looking into allegations that the 25-year-old woman was held against her will and drugged to prevent her escape.
According to the British newspaper the Daily Mail, she had been living with her parents inside the cult compound and escaped, taking refuge at Jessop’s home. He is a former spokesman for the cult and has left the group.
Isaac Wyler, another former sect member who still lives in the community, said the sheriff’s deputies helped diffuse what had become a stand-off with FLDS men outside Jessop’s office — demanding that the 25-year-old be turned over to them.,
Jessop told the Salt Lake City Tribune that he contacted authorities on the woman’s behalf
“She came to me under duress for some help. We’ve got her help. She’s deciding what she wants to do and how we can help facilitate that. One hundred percent of the focus now is on whatever is in her best interests.”
The sect, which has about 10,000 members, practices polygamy in arranged marriages that have sometimes involved underage girls.
Leaving the devout community has historically been difficult for members because family and friends are required to sever all contact.