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Polygamist Leader Gets Jail Visits From Doctor, Family

Polygamist Leader Gets Jail Visits From Doctor, Family

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A polygamist church leader who appeared frail and disengaged during recent court proceedings has since April been visited most frequently by a man described as his personal physician, records from a southern Utah jail show.

Dr. Lloyd Hammon Barlow first saw Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the Washington County jail on Feb. 12, about two weeks after he was rushed to a St. George hospital for undisclosed treatment.

Barlow's visit also came three days after the transcript of a motion for "privileged physician contact" was filed under seal in 5th District Court in St. George.

Jeffs, 51, is in jail awaiting a trial on two first-degree felony counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in a 2001 spiritual marriage between a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin. No trial date is set.

Purgatory Correctional Facility records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request also show that Jeffs' mother, two of his wives and a son have visited.

Barlow is a Utah-licensed family practitioner and surgeon with a degree from the University of Utah, records show. He also has medical licenses in Arizona and Texas, where the FLDS owns a 2,000-acre ranch.

Until about two years ago, Barlow's practice was based out of the Hildale Health Service Center, a private clinic used exclusively by members of the Hildale, Utah-based church, former members say. "Dr. Lloyd got called to Texas to be Warren's personal physician," said Isaac Wyler, an ex-member who still lives in Hildale. "He moved his family and everything. We heard he was the last person who's been to see Warren."

Between April 2 and April 27, Barlow saw Jeffs nine times. It is unclear, however, if he is providing medical care.

Efforts to reach Barlow at the Hildale clinic were unsuccessful. No one answered the phone. Jeffs' Salt Lake City defense attorneys Wally Bugden and Tara Isaacson declined comment.

Washington County sheriff's Lt. Jake Adams also declined comment about Jeffs' medical care, citing privacy laws. He also could not say if the jail was under court order to provide Jeffs with any special medical privileges.

The jail employs a 24-hour nursing staff to care for inmates and has contracts with private physicians for services that nurses are unable to provide. Dental care and mental-health services from psychologists and psychiatrists are also provided by contract, Adams said.

Different arrangements could be made under court order or in case of an emergency, he said. A coalition of media outlets, including The AP, is seeking to have documents believed related to Jeffs' health made public.

Jeffs was last in court March 23, looking pale and skeletal. He occasionally nodded off, had difficulty following court proceedings and at one point drooled on himself.

New questions were raised about Jeffs' mental health on Wednesday after a sealed "Report of a Competence to Proceed Evaluation," conducted by Associated Behavior Consultants, or ABC, of Holladay, Utah, was filed on the court docket. The report is dated April 6, and records show Jeffs was visited by a "Dr. Nielsen" during the week of April 9. No first name was listed. State records list Eric Nielsen, a clinical social worker, as ABC's registered agent. Jail officials could not provide any additional information about him. Nielsen did not return a telephone message from The AP.

Jeffs has been head of the FLDS church since 2004. He is revered as a prophet by followers, who are said to be blindly obedient and believe Jeffs communicates directly with God. Church doctrine contends that plural marriage brings members exaltation in heaven. Wyler and Andrew Chatwin, another former FLDS member, say church members in Hildale and neighboring Colorado City, Ariz., have been told that Jeffs has become "a little bit sick" while in jail.

While on the run from police, Jeffs reportedly prophesied that if caught, he would die while incarcerated at the hands of those trying to destroy the church. Letting followers know Jeffs could be ill would strengthen his position as a prophetic leader, Chatwin said. "It's a way to maintain control," he said. Records for visits between the week of Nov. 6, 2006, and ending the week of April 23 show that besides Barlow, Jeffs' most frequent visitors have been his Utah and Nevada defense attorneys. Visits from family, particularly from a brother, Nephi Jeffs, had been infrequent until April, when Jeffs had two visits from his mother, Merilyn Jeffs, and three visits from his first wife, Annette Barlow Jeffs. Another wife, Naomie Jeffs, who was with Jeffs when he was arrested last year, also came to the jail. Levi Jeffs, 18, a son by Jeffs' deceased second wife, Barbara, visited his father during the second week of April. Several other church members have visited, including Spencer Blackmore, who lives in a church enclave in Bountiful, British Columbia.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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