BOISE CITY, Okla. (AP) — A family who says they were excommunicated from Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect has moved to a small city located in the Oklahoma Panhandle, raising concerns among some residents.
George Barlow served as mayor of Colorado City, Arizona, from 2011 to 2013, where many of the residents are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Jeffs, who is the sect’s leader, is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two of his child brides.
Barlow worked remotely in the role from North Dakota before resigning from the position and moving to Boise City, a small city about 330 miles northwest of Oklahoma City and in the westernmost county of the state. He told The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/WvDzph ) he was excommunicated from the church. Several of Barlow’s brothers have also moved to the area.
About 300 people recently gathered into the local banquet hall to discuss their concerns about the new residents.
Jennifer Adee, 33, and the mother of a 3-year-old, made no secret of her distrust of the newcomers, especially one man whose name was mentioned several times during the meeting.
“I’m not judging him on his religion . If he wants to practice the way he practices, that’s fine. But I’m not going to let my child be a victim, and I’m not going to let anybody else’s child be a victim.”
George Barlow, 52, and his wife, Virgina, 48, said they came to Oklahoma for the work.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see this place needed some help,” George Barlow said.
Most of the new men in town are finding jobs as electricians, carpenters and installing drywall. George Barlow works as a mechanic. He and his wife also volunteer at the Cimarron Heritage Center Museum.
The couple said they don’t participate in polygamy, don’t believe in child marriage and say any sexual abuse of children that occurred was not in line with teachings of their faith. Both declined to discuss Jeffs.
Gary Engels works as an investigator for the prosecutor’s office in Mohave County, Ariz., where Colorado City is located. Sam Brower, a Utah private investigator, spent seven years researching and writing a book published in 2011 about Jeffs and the FLDS.
Brower and Engels answered questions during the recent town meeting.
Brower said members usually keep their status secret and that Jeffs most likely had instructed his followers in Boise City to tell outsiders they were no longer believers, even if they were.
Both Brower and Engels said recent developments in Boise City are a pattern they’ve seen sect members follow before in other parts of the country. The newcomers settle in, start working and then send money to Jeffs.
“My feeling is the money being made here is going to enrich the FLDS leadership, including Warren Jeffs’s commissary in Texas state prison,” Brower said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com
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