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The Polygamy Blog
Nate Carlisle
Reporter Nate Carlisle and photographer Trent Nelson cover polygamy for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow the Polygamy Blog on Twitter at @tribunepolygamy. Follow Nate Carlisle on Twitter at @natecarlisle. Follow Trent Nelson on Twitter at @trenthead.

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FLDS leaders controlled elections, were on a hit list in the 1980s

Officials in the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights lawsuit didn’t just depose active law enforcement agents, as we previously reported; they also deposed Willie Jessop.

In the embedded transcript, Jessop discusses working security for the FLDS Church and mentions that years ago a member of the LeBaron group had FLDS leader Roy Johnson on a hit list. The situation was so dire the Washington County sheriff swore Jessop in as a deputy.

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Jessop was a high-ranking FLDS official who did church security until he left the organization because, according to his deposition, he learned Warren Jeffs was "raping 12-year-olds."

In his deposition, Jessop also discusses the political process in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, saying the FLDS leadership controlled elections and successfully ordered Hildale Mayor David Zitting out of the community.

Jessop’s deposition stands out because unlike others who testified in the case —including Jeremiah Darger and Shem Jessop — he unambiguously says he has severed ties with the organization led by Warren Jeffs. However, Jessop does say he was baptized LDS and continues to follow "the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith through his prophets." Jessop also doesn’t cite his "First Amendment privilege," which was a major point of contention during other depositions.

And of course, this all is part of the ongoing civil rights lawsuit, which we reported on earlier this month.

— Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @tribunepolygamy

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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