Foster care in Ariz. polygamist enclave draws eyes

Foster care in Ariz. polygamist enclave draws eyes

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COLORADO CITY, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona is placing foster children in the polygamist enclave of Colorado City near the Utah border and that's raising concerns about their future and Arizona Child Protective Services' judgment in finding homes for abused and neglected kids.

Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson has identified one foster parent as a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints whose family was "reassigned" some years ago by church leader Warren Jeffs, according to The Arizona Republic.

Johnson notified Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer this week and asked Attorney General Tom Horne for help to bring the child back to Lake Havasu City, where the child's mother still lives.


The boy and his two brothers had been living with a foster family in Lake Havasu since CPS removed them from their mother, Johnson said.

He said CPS recently moved the youngest to Dan Wayman's home and the boy's brothers to a foster home in Prescott.

"His wife and children were taken away from (Wayman) by the priesthood," Johnson told The Republic. "They got reassigned, so he's a single man now."

Johnson has prodded state and federal officials for years to dismantle the polygamist FLDS. He said foster children should not be placed in Colorado City, where he believes child labor, arranged marriages and abuse run rampant.

"You're putting them in an environment where you're setting them up to fail," Johnson said. "They're pretty much cut off from the real world."

Wayman did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

Tasya Peterson, communications director for the state Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS and the foster-care system, did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press. Horne's office also did not immediately respond to an email from the AP.

You're putting them in an environment where you're setting them up to fail. They're pretty much cut off from the real world.

–Buster Johnson, Mohave County

Among the factors DES considers when deciding whether to license foster and adoptive homes is fitness of the parents, including mental health history, lifestyle, domestic violence or past illegal practices.

Johnson has long been frustrated by the lack of action by Utah and Arizona officials against the polygamous sect.

In his letter to Horne, Johnson said Wayman was involved in a Las Vegas leasing company with ties to Jeffs, who's serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting two underage girls he considered his brides.

Jeffs continues to try to lead the sect of about 10,000 people from jail. The sect is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

Last year, Horne agreed to pay for Mohave County deputies to patrol Colorado City after state lawmakers rejected a bill to abolish the Colorado City Marshal's Office.

Horne said the marshal's officers are FLDS followers and put Jeffs' orders above the law.

Last June, the U.S. Justice Department sued the twin polygamist towns of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, alleging discrimination against residents who are not FLDS members.


Information from: The Arizona Republic,

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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