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HILLDALE -- Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he intends to look into allegations that girls are secretly being held, possibly for sexual purposes, by followers of imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs.
This latest allegation comes in the context of rising tension in Jeffs' church. The prison walls did not crumble at New Years as he supposedly prophesied. Now, there is even more turmoil among his followers.
Printed documents attributed to Jeffs are piling up at the Attorney General's office. The purported revelations generally predict doom and destruction and they've been mailed by FLDS officials regularly in recent weeks to government offices, churches and even schools around the country.
They're called 'houses of hiding.' The worry is that there are still children being trafficked in potential sexual crimes or being held for the prophet for that purpose.
–Utah AG Mark Shurtleff.
"We read it just to see if there's any specific threat from him or from his people or any kind of order to do anything that might be a public safety concern," Shurtleff said.
So far no specific threats have been identified, according to Shurtleff. Meanwhile, in the FLDS community of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah somewhere between 1000 and 2000 people were reportedly told they are not righteous enough to attend regular meetings of the FLDS church.
One man in the blackballed group said his wife and ten children were taken by church leaders at 3 in the morning. Private investigator Sam Brower said the man called him in tears.
"He had been left destitute by Warren," Brower said. "All of his money and everything he had had been going to the church, and now he'd lost his family. So it's very sad. (It is a) very volatile situation out there."
Shurtleff said he has heard allegations that underage FLDS girls are being held, without their parents, in secret places around the country.
"They're called "houses of hiding." The worry is that there are still children being trafficked in potential sexual crimes or being held for the prophet for that purpose," Shurtleff said. "We don't know exactly. But that is a concern and that is something I intend to look into."
Texas officials have temporarily suspended Jeffs' prison phone privileges because he apparently broke the rules by speaking to his congregation on the phone Christmas Day.
Branded as a traitor
Dan Fischer left the FLDS fold for good 17 years ago, became a dentist and founded a company called Ultradent. For years, he's been using his wealth to help others escape the polygamist community. If that's disloyalty, he's not ashamed of it.
Warren Jeffs' purported revelations in prison, mailed out by leaders of the FLDS community, predict doom and destruction. So far, the documents have made no actual threats, according to Shurtleff.
But the latest so-called revelation singles out Dr. Dan Fischer as a liar and traitor.
"I would consider it an honor to be outside his camp and not inside his camp," Fischer said.
Since leaving the FLDS faith, Fischer has never hidden his feelings about Warren Jeffs, calling what he's done to the community "an atrocity." He organized The Diversity Foundation to help others escape and rebuild their lives outside Warren Jeffs' control. He said recent FLDS turmoil has caused more departures.
"Particularly the young people," Fischer said. "Many of them are getting discouraged, dismayed, and they're simply leaving."
He says Jeffs, from prison, has ramped up an old tactic, dividing his community into two camps. The most righteous are exalted. The less righteous, the so-called Evil Ward, are being stripped of privileges and sometimes wives and children.
"They're not actually kicked out. They're actually on probation if you will," Fischer said.
He compares Jeffs to Hitler in using fear to control people.
"For those that are devout, they're getting more solid," he said. "The more he scares them, the more the frenzy goes up, the more the mysticism goes up, the more panicky it gets, the more certainly committed they become that they must do whatever Warren Jeffs says. I think there's a significant number, however, who are beginning to say 'enough's enough. This is craziness.'"