On the EDge: When the badge works against you

(Left) Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan with Sgt. Mike Hoggard at Colordo City, Ariz. (right) Hildale road sign, Hidale, Utah | Photos courtesy of the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and Utah Attorney General's Office

OPINION – Out on the edge of the desert where the bright, blue sky serves as a backdrop to the glowing hills and mesas, the law is a tricky thing.

For years, the primary law enforcement agency in the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., which sit side by side along the Utah-Arizona state line and are commonly referred to as Short Creek, has been the Colorado City Town Marshal’s Office.

A group of six men, all members of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, make up the force.

Technically, Hildale is under the jurisdiction of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado City under the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

Practically, however, Short Creek is, if you believe those who escaped the polygamous community, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, and Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan, under the jurisdiction of Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the FLDS. And, although Jeffs is serving a life-plus sentence in a Texas prison for sexually abusing two young girls – one 12, the other 14 – who he took as spiritual wives, there are many who say Jeffs still calls the shots.

At the age of 14, Ruby Jessop was placed into marriage with an adult man. By the age of 15, she was pregnant. She says she can’t remember how many times she tried to escape the polygamous community, as her sister, Flora, had done in 1986.

“The Marshal’s Office is the one that brought me back to be placed back into the abuse,” she has told interviewers since breaking free.

The marshals are referred to, irreverently, as “The God Squad.”

Although Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies pretty much don’t go into the area unless somebody contacts them directly, the county attorney sends them to investigate, or they are called in by the Town Marshal’s Office, Horne has done all he can to increase oversight by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office on his side of the state line.

He has pushed for legislation that would shut down the marshals on decertification issues and has cobbled together $400,000 to increase pay for more patrol by the county sheriff’s deputies.


“I think (the marshals) are totally dysfunctional,” he has told interviewers. “They participate in the oppression. And that oppression is the worst injustice that’s happening in Arizona right now on my watch as attorney general.

“Young women trapped in polygamist arrangements with much older men — who had escaped from Colorado City — have stated that other women trying to escape were caught by the local marshals and forcefully returned to their husbands. In one case, the husband threatened ‘blood atonement’ if the women tried to escape again, which involves execution by a method too horrible to describe here.”

Sheahan described the town marshals as “security guards for the FLDS church.”

“They are corrupt and work only for the FLDS and Warren Jeffs,” he said.

An investigation by the ABC news team in Phoenix found that over the last 10 years seven marshals have had their police certifications revoked. The investigation also revealed that one marshal was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16-year-old girl; another marshal admitted to molesting a five-year-old girl; and a marshal, who was an admitted bigamist, also was accused of failing to report child sex abuse. Investigators also uncovered two more who wrote letters to Warren Jeffs, pledging their allegiance to him while he was a fugitive on the run from the FBI.

In light of this, I wonder how anybody of good heart, good faith, good soul cannot do everything within their power to move heaven and hell when we hear of reports that Jeffs has ordered three men to impregnate all girls and women 12 and older in the community.

Who is there to stand for these children? Who is there to protect them? Who is there to shelter them from this threat of evil?

We have Jeffs and 10 other men sitting in a Texas prison for raping children at the FLDS Yearning for Zion compound in Eldorado. We have women who have escaped from this treacherous lifestyle telling us how they were raped, molested, emotionally and physically battered. We have journalists who have investigated the culture who have reported on the abuses that take place.

If that is not evidentiary enough for law enforcement on both sides of the state line to take a harder look at this recently reported allegation against Jeffs, what is?


Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

(Left) Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan with Sgt. Mike Hoggard at Colordo City, Ariz. (right) Hildale road sign, Hidale, Utah | Photos courtesy of the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and Utah Attorney General's Office
(Left) Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan with Sgt. Mike Hoggard at Colordo City, Ariz. (right) Hildale road sign, Hidale, Utah | Photos courtesy of the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Utah Attorney General’s Office

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  • Rebecca July 28, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I really appreciate you writing this article Ed, thanks.

  • Rebecca July 28, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I also thought I might mention…

    At the beginning of the article, on the first word, “Opinion” -I think what we are dealing with here, lies far outside the realm of opinion; and much rather into the deep recesses of factual reality. Why? Because we ALL have basic human rights. Simple, true. it’s a fact.

    Need I elaborate on the fundamentals of THAT?

    And no, I am sorry, that is not a calm placid look in my eye, and a demure smile, It’s FIRE, and words I am speaking in love.
    Words spoken because people in our own COUNTY, not just own Country, our own County right next door, ARE SUFFERING, being oppressed, held down and not being allowed to develop themselves as human beings are wont to do. Where is their joy?

    Why has so much suffering gone unnoticed?
    Did the children fail to disclose to the “proper authorities” the abuse? Were they afraid? Were they threatened to not tell? Did they have pain inflicted on them to keep silent? Were they under someones influence to not speak of it?

    And why? To be used and abused for another’s purpose and pleasure?

    Individuals used and not even allowed to contribute their unique and precious selves to our world, county, to life itself? They matter. I care.

    What kind of life is for them?

    That women, children, whom we should cherish and revere, the both, are suffering things they can’t even talk about because they are to afraid. Some of them might not even know it’s wrong -some don’t dare.
    My heart aches, tears hot on my face…The Anguish of it all, the individual pain and sufferings.

    They, in the past, and very most likely the present, cannot even report child abuse and have it handled properly, to protect the development of the children, and the fabric of society!!. This world does not need more depravity, only more purity, and children are inherently pure.

    THE CHILDREN….Our Future, all of whom are going to be in the positions the adults are in now.
    To do what, perpetuate?

    To whom ever seeks to stop it-

    -bravo, I applaud. Really, bravo, I want more of it to end.
    I respect all those in authority who are standing up and seeking it’s end. Please don’t turn a blind eye to any of it, not one bit. Every single person is precious, let us not forget, every single one of us. You too.

    Some may say I am being overly dramatic -the acting out of emotion. Emotion is a verb, it is an action in itself.
    Because people are alive, and they feel. Let’s not let them die inside their own hearts choking on their own pain.

    This is a Cause, a great one, to stand for these people. Even the men, and the boys who will become men, they need to be kept precious too, because some might only know what they have been taught, and they are our future too.

    Those people, those women and children too, all of them. They feel, and their hearts should be feeling something not laced in pain.

    These children, the Mothers, are a part of us too. They are our community, they should not be isolated and held back.
    They are precious. If we don’t feel their pain and share their story, who will? They are precious people, not property.

    And Mr. Jeffs, I would say don’t drop the soap…but you’d probably like it, ya filth b-tard. Ew. Keep them kind locked up with each other.

    I have my doubts that this piece will pass the moderator, but hey, can’t blame me for trying.
    …actually, I am sure there are those that would find a way to blame me for, well, anything.
    But those are the kinds I am talking about up there, abuse comes in many forms, false blame being one of them.

    Permission for reprint granted by me, copyright 2013 RLN.

    • Bright One July 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      OMG! SHUT UP!!

    • Shemp July 29, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Oh my heck. What a bunch of crap. Do you read what you write before posting at all? To think you feel the need to copyright such utter babbling is funny. I believe this article to be true in many ways and has facts, not just emotional BS like your extended “feel good about yourself manifesto.”. My advice is to take a writing class and try not to latch onto somebody elses work.. As always Ed, I enjoyed your piece. You are a real writer.

  • Darren July 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Come on St. George News people.. These stories about the FLDS are pathetic and single sided. It seems as though you group every cop, every man women and child under one group and it has gotta stop.. We are individual people and have very very different views on various topics. One or two bad apples in the police force, church or community should NEVER ruin the religious rights as Americans, Thank you

    • Hoorah July 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      “One or two bad apples”. No you idiot, we are talking about pedophiles. Are you one of them?????

    • Bright One July 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      …So I take it you’re a polyg.

      • real life July 28, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        Or just a person who sticks up for child rapists.

      • Dave Jarrett July 29, 2013 at 4:52 am

        I agree Darren.

    • FONDUE July 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Well Darren, give us just a couple positive things about the FLDS? Okay how about just one! And being able to shag a minor doesn’t count!!!

  • Victoria Prunty July 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    It is so easy to talk the talk about caring for Utah’s children–but to walk the walk, and DO the right thing, is something we are still eagerly waiting for Utah state officials to do. If this is supposedly a rumor, after all the abuse that we know has gone in this community, than why is the AG’s office not giving us more information. Silence is another PR tactic of politically AVOIDING.

  • Dan Lester July 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Yes, we have the right to worship, or not, as we wish. We do NOT have the right to have sex with minors or other illegal activities. The point of the piece is that the law officials are violating the law, not following it.

  • Tyler July 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the article. I wonder how long it will take for polygamy to be legal. I also wonder what hypocritical stance the Mormon church will take once it is legal

    • Tyler July 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      To think mormonism started from this… Gag!

  • John July 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Even if it was made legal which it shouldn’t man law has nothing to really do with religion

  • Tyler July 28, 2013 at 6:43 pm


  • real life July 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Wow. These are some sick individuals among us. Nothing more dangerous than a pedophile with a badge.

  • sarah james July 30, 2013 at 1:39 am

    “Nothing more dangerous than a pedophile with a badge.”. You got that right!

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