FLDS: Polygamy in Practice
What's unnerving in the reports, however, is the degree to which the FLDS has insinuated itself into local governments. Here's one section of an LA Times story:
Charged with protecting and serving their community, Colorado City police have long had a reputation for protecting and serving church interests instead.That's terrible, and the state needs to step in--aggressively. Unfortunately, another excerpt from the LA Times article gives quotes from people like Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and former Arizona governor Fife Symington--where they're pandering to or defending these communities for their votes.
The force, which covers Hildale as well, is reportedly handpicked by FLDS leaders. Call 911 here, say state investigators, and it is the same as calling the FLDS.
Former police employees and state investigators say officers either ignore molestation allegations or send them to the church rather than to outside prosecutors.
Paul Musser, a former dispatcher for the Colorado City police, was eyewitness to the daily activity of the station.
“Sex crimes were handled very delicately, very discreetly,” he said. “They were taken to the prophet.”
Sam Roundy, a polygamist and former Colorado City police chief, moonlighted as a church security officer. He told investigators from the police standards boards of Arizona and Utah who were evaluating his training that between 20 and 25 times he failed to report child sex abuse cases as required by law.
As a result, state child welfare agencies were often unaware of molestation allegations and unable to help or intervene on behalf of possible victims. Another result was the reluctance of victims to call police in the first place.
Monitoring and prosecuting polygamists might alienate a lot of Utahn voters...but the kind of sexual exploitation, forced marriage, child abuse, spouse abuse these articles describe should be sufficient to get moderate Mormons onboard with serious state intervention. I usually describe myself as being ambivalent about the practice of polygamy in theory, as it were, and I have to suspect that I don't really want to think too hard about it. The stories tricking out of the FLDS show that this isn't the vague-on-details-but-vaguely-benevolent polygamy we prefer imagining our great-great grandfathers and mothers practicing, and it's important not to let our sentimental version of the past (which, whatever else, is past) blind us to present evils.
What else could the states do? Isn't there any way to shift the police officers to a new post in a different town? Can that judge who gave a man who sexually abused five of his daughters 130 days (13 served) be moved to a different time zone? Maybe voters in these states should also hold politicians' feet to the fire; anyone praising, as Symington did, this group's "family-oriented lifestyles" should become a political pariah, and you could go from there.