- Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2015

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) - Witnesses set to testify in a civil rights lawsuit against polygamous towns on the Arizona-Utah line include a former bodyguard for Warren Jeffs, an ex-wife of a polygamous leader and a onetime chief of the towns’ marshal service.

Federal attorneys have revealed names of the 44 witnesses they plan to call in the case, including Willie Jessop, Charlene Jeffs and Helaman Barlow, The Spectrum newspaper in St. George reported Friday (https://bit.ly/1PSn93d ).

Prosecutors say the towns systematically denied housing, water services and police protection to people who weren’t part of the Jeffs-led polygamous group. Jessop, also a former spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is expected to testify about the workings of the group, surveillance by church security and alleged harassment of non-members, according to court records.

The U.S. Justice Department says that town marshals have confronted people about their disobedience of church rules, failed to investigate crimes against them and returned an underage bride home after she had fled. The towns also are accused of refusing to provide water services to non-members and preventing them from building homes.

Lawyers defending the allegations against Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, plan to call 46 witnesses, including town officials, police and utility workers. The lists include Hildale mayor Philip Barlow, who is expected to testify that the town government isn’t entangled in religion and all residents are treated equally, court records show.

Some of those called to testify are expected to be hostile witnesses. The towns plan to call Bruce Wisan, an accountant who was appointed to manage the group’s property trust after it was taken over by the state of Utah. Wisan is typically at odds with Jeffs’ followers.

Some witnesses appear on lists for both sides, like Colorado city Mayor Joseph Allred, though federal authorities complained on Wednesday that he’s dodged attempts to give him a subpoena.

City employees have denied seeing him, and a receptionist refused to talk and shut off an intercom once the mayor’s name was mentioned during one attempt to serve him, Justice Department attorneys say in court records.

No one has answered the door at his home during two subpoena visits, even though people were inside, federal lawyers contend. On the second visit, paper or cardboard was placed on the home’s windows to block the view inside. The Justice Department wants permission to post the subpoena on the door of Town Hall.

The trial is set to begin in Phoenix on Jan. 19 and will be decided by jurors from northern Arizona. The Justice Department is seeking a declaration that the towns have violated a fair housing law and court orders requiring steps to prevent future discrimination.

The Jeffs-led group broke away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when it disavowed polygamy more than 100 years ago. Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides but still holds sway over the group.


Information from: The Spectrum, https://www.thespectrum.com

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