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William E. Jessop and his ordination — the back story

Published February 26, 2013 9:57 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There wasn't room in my profile of William E. Jessop to include the strange story of how Rulon Jeffs made him an apostle. And like most FLDS stories, the details of what transpired are murky.

But here, at least, is the outline of what happened, as written by The Tribune's Brooke Adams in 2007:

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According to John Nielsen, a former FLDS member, William E. Jessop was supposed to be set apart as a counselor to Fred Jessop around 2002 by then-prophet Rulon T. Jeffs.

Here's where the story gets interesting.

Rulon T. Jeffs had been waylaid by several strokes and was in poor health by then; he died in September 2002. He had, apparently, taught that people impaired by strokes couldn't give ordinations, a position that could be traced back to the whole affair with Joseph Musser and Rulon Allred. Musser was disabled by a stroke when he appointed Rulon Allred to the fundamentalist's priesthood council, which other members opposed.

The result: the split that led to the creation of the Apostolic United Brethren.

So here is Rulon T. Jeffs, in a similar condition, giving an ordination to William E. Jessop. According to Nielsen, Rulon T. Jeffs slipped up and gave Jessop the whole package, including an apostleship.

"It was kept quiet,' Nielsen said. 'They hushed that up. Not many people knew about that."

••••••

Even if the appointment was an accident by a delusional, elderly man, Warren Jeffs apparently took the ordination serious enough to hand power to Jessop in 2007.

What other questions do you have about Jessop and how he is leading?

— Nate Carlisle

Twitter: @natecarlisle