The Yearning for Zion Ranch, an idyllic religious compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is located 45 miles southwest of San Angelo, Texas and 4 miles northeast of El Dorado, Texas. Warren Jeffs (in 2003) called the new sequestered community the ‘lands of refuge.’
Why did Jeffs want to move his operation from Colorado City, Utah to an obscure parcel of Texas real estate? Did he see the Yearning for Zion Ranch as his new utopia where he’d be free to carry out his polygamist sexual rituals unabated?
Jeffs’ mistake is he underestimated Texas law enforcement.
Of particular interest are the two audio tapes being played this week in a courtroom in San Angelo. Warren Jeffs is charged with sexually assaulting two girls, one 12-year-old and a 15-year-old.
A tape provided as evidence for the prosecution (procured by Texas Ranger Nick Hanna) was made on Aug. 7, 2006 at the YFZ Ranch.
There are two known copies of the tape; one was confiscated from the compound during a raid in April of 2008, and the other was found on Jeffs’ car when he was arrested in Nevada in August of 2006.
Apparently, Jeffs was pitching the tape around as a model for ways to inculcate new brides into this questionable hybrid of marriage, sex, and two-dimensional religion.
The contents of another 90-minute tape were played for the jurors and guest audience on Tuesday. The particulars of this audio tape are hatched out with an eye for detail in The Salt Lake Tribune (Jeffs tells girls to cooperate with sister wives, including in sex, tape reveals by Lindsay Whitehurst and Nate Carlisle).
I would urge you to review the content of these two tapes (I know you will), where a brazen Warren Jeffs has no shame in his aberrant behavior, since he sees himself as under a shield of protection by the shifty themes of polygamy and paternalism, wrapped in a cloak of ritualistic splinter beliefs (FLDS is a black sheep of the Mormon faith).
My purpose is not to merely rehash the disgusting canticles of tradition-bound oppression and power-mongering, or otherwise offenses towards God, but rather to ponder the likelihood of a conviction for the fallen prophet.
Audio tapes are hard evidence, irrefutable. The jurors had headphones and a printed transcript.
In light of such strong evidence, a guilty verdict is likely. And since Jeffs has fired his actual attorneys, and is representing himself, a presentation of a good defense case is unlikely.
As we wait for the outcome of the trial, you may choose (like me) to review this long, complicated case. When did FLDS begin? When and why did Jeffs assume leadership?
Why was YFZ Ranch built? This reminds me of Jim Jones fleeing San Francisco and moving his utopia to Guyana.
There are lots of books, articles, and video sources that you can get to fill in the picture. There’s a trailer of Banking On Heaven on YouTube and also a popular local production for Arizona, Colorado City and the Underground Railroad.
The Wikipedia entry is informative and gives you good leads that go to other more primary sources.
We have to ask the question why these people (FLDS) have gotten away with these crimes for so many years? Is it only because of an American belief of freedom of religion?
I’d say the chief reason is ignorance. People were not aware that this was going on. Not until these idiots tried it in Texas.