Utah detective has chased polygamist outlaws to Sundance

First Published      Last Updated Sep 04 2016 07:02 pm

Documentary “Prophet’s Prey” will introduce Sam Brower and the FLDS to a new audience.

Colorado City, Ariz. • Black cowboy boots swung from the sports-utility vehicle and landed on the red dirt road. Sam Brower started walking toward the man who was blocking his way.

Brower and Andrew Chatwin had been photographing and filming workers at a granary a few days before Thanksgiving 2014. Boys who appeared to be ages 10 to 16 poured grain into barrels and drove forklifts to load them onto trucks.

Colorado City and adjacent Hildale, Utah, are home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a polygamist sect that has a history of using boys as laborers.

As Brower and Chatwin tried to leave, a man pivoted a livestock gate across the public road ahead of them while an oversized pickup truck with tinted windows — what Brower calls a "Pylg Rig" — blocked Brower's SUV from behind.

The man at the gate was wearing ear buds and talked as though he was on his cell phone. Brower assumes he was talking to the marshals in Hildale and Colorado City. But Brower wasn't waiting for them.

"Move your hands or I'm going to move them for you," Brower said politely.

Then Brower, who in his boots stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds, pushed the man away from the gate, opened it, got in his SUV and drove away.

"He is fearless and doesn't shy away from confrontation," author Jon Krakauer said of Brower in an interview last week. "I worry that he won't back down."

Brower has had numerous confrontations with FLDS members over the years while working on behalf of people he regards as victims.

Soon, a new audience will see what Brower has been doing in Hildale and Colorado City, collectively known as Short Creek.

"Prophet's Prey," a documentary based on his 2011 book of the same name, premieres Monday at Sundance.

The film features Brower and reflects his view of the FLDS Church — that it's a criminal organization, like the Mafia or a drug cartel, which trafficks in child brides and child labor with the aid of corrupt members of the local police and government.

The film may move people to ask, "Why isn't more being done about the FLDS?"

The 60-year-old private detective believes he knows the answer and hopes the film will lead to a solution.

The hunter • Brower's interest in the FLDS started with sympathy and curiosity for its outcast members. It has turned into a career.

In addition to writing the book and working on the film, Brower has helped the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Justice investigate FLDS-owned businesses for possible child labor and civil rights violations. He previously has been an investigator for a variety of FLDS-related lawsuits.

Brower insists his investigations into the FLDS have not been lucrative. He still has other clients, though the FLDS consume most of his time.

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