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Tonight on AC360: Forced child labor? Picking pecans for their polygamist prophet
December 5th, 2012
06:04 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Forced child labor? Picking pecans for their polygamist prophet

For years, we've reported on the mysterious enclave of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints near the Utah-Arizona border. We thought we've seen it all. But tonight Gary Tuchman reports on a development that raises new questions about the Church run by jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

Gary received a tip that Jeffs, from his prison cell, ordered all schools closed this week so the children could harvest pecans. Gary went to the ranch in question and found hundreds of children in the fields. As soon as he got out of his car, the children all started scattering away from him, and eventually running in the opposite direction.

Gary talked to the owner of a neighboring hog farm, who told him the child labor has gone on for a week or two over a period of years.

"In the past, I've seen them here when it's past dark," said Dorothy Laub. "In the winter, I don't let my kids out when the sun comes down. It's too cold and they're working," she added.

So who runs the pecan farm? And why are these children being taken out of school to work there? Gary went in search for answers, and as you might suspect it wasn't an easy mission. Don't miss his report at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on Thursday.

 

Update: Watch Gary's report here

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Filed under: FLDS • Gary Tuchman • Tonight on AC360
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Chuck Farley

    Come on, this is america, there is a thing called religious freedoms as long as no laws are being broken, leave them alone. Also, why do we have summer off from school only in america??? for harvest season, 3 months a year kids missed school to help farm every day from before sun up till sun down,( some still do). to think there is anything wrong with kids doing this for up to 2 weeks a year is just plain wrong. Moms and the kids look like they are having fun together and not working that hard, it was the outsiders that came in the judge and video them that made them freak out. Girl scouts sell cookies and cub scouts rake leaves and clean road sides, all for no personal gain and no one even says a thing about that. The amish do the same thing, you see the whole family harvesting wheat or corn out in the field with no machines, and no one says a thing about all the kids in their fields, and those kids are home schooled.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Fred

      Religious freedom for children? More like the parents are practicing their religion on the children. Some serious brainwashing going on behind those barbed wire fences... It's news nowadays though. The sooner religious dogma fades away the better, and it will...

      December 11, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  2. betty jasinski

    i do not like anything about the flds and their treatment of women and children.
    BUT having grown up in the south it has always been common for children to be let out of school to pick whatever is ripe at the time. i remember picking pecans as a child in texas and my children went to school in kentucky where everyone went out to pick strawberrys when they were ripe. school breaks were timed for the local produce. this was before the groups coming to america for short time farm work.

    December 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Cindy

      You don't take kids out of school – away from "real education" for them to do child labor in the fields ! I am sure if you grew up doing it – it was for fun event (one day outing) – these kids are out for a week to do hard labor ! Someone else is making money off them. Its wrong !

      December 7, 2012 at 4:52 am |