Tensions have flared again in twin towns dominated by a fundamentalist Mormon sect on the Arizona-Utah border, where three businessmen say they were arrested and prevented from operating a farm for not sharing the towns’ majority religion.
The Oct. 12 lawsuit in Prescott Federal Court came the week before a hearing in a Department of Justice lawsuit accusing Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah of discriminating against non-members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That case, originally filed in 2012, already has brought a $1.6 million settlement for non-members who were denied basic utilities.
The Fundamentalist Church, run by imprisoned “prophet” Warren Jeffs, also is a defendant. Jeffs is serving a life sentenced for child sexual assault. Jeffs’ actions, and the operations of the twin towns, have brought numerous lawsuits and indictments in recent years.
When the plaintiffs tried to get water and garbage service at the property, they were told to pay a $500 deposit. After paid the deposit, they say, Colorado City told them the services would not be connected because they did not have the permission of the prior registrant.
“The prior guy was Fred Jessop, and he’d been dead for 10 years,” Walker said.
Services were connected after five months, after the Justice Department obtained a settlement against the two towns.
The men seek compensatory damages for lost earnings and punitive damages for conspiracy and civil rights violations.