July 26th, 2011
11:59 PM ET

Warren Jeffs seeks to control polygamist sect from jail

Editor’s Note: CNN’s Gary Tuchman explores the latest developments in the saga of polygamist Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Part 2 of a special report on Wednesday’s “AC 360” and for CNN Presents, airing Sunday, July 31, at 8 p.m. ET.

El Dorado, Texas (CNN) – Fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs has been held in a tiny jail in this west Texas town for roughly three years. According to his jailers, he has spent his time doing one thing above all else: talking on the phone..

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran told CNN that in one month, Jeffs has spent roughly $3,000 on phone cards.

And while Jeffs was recently held in another Texas jail roughly 50 miles away, he spent close to $10,000 in phone cards in three months.

Reagan County Sheriff James Garner, who oversees that jail, told CNN that no inmate there has ever spent that much money on phone cards.

Authorities say Jeffs has received money from loyal followers and that he uses much of it to buy phone time to deliver lengthy sermons to acolytes in Texas, Utah and Arizona.

Some Jeffs experts say the calls are proof that he’s running his church from behind bars.

And officially, Jeffs still leads the breakaway sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), which firmly believes in polygamy.

Leaders of the mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have repeatedly disavowed Jeffs and say his group of roughly 10,000 followers in no way represents their religion.

The official LDS church banned polygamy more than a century ago.

Jury selection for Jeff’s sexual assault trial began in Texas on Monday. He is charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of bigamy.

Jeffs has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

FULL STORY on the CNN Belief Blog
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Jal

    I'm not going into the case, but CNN's presentation that to spend $1,000 or $10,000 on phone cards for jail calls is exorbitant, well come to California. We have inmates in our county jails with $1000s on their accounts for commissary & phones, and its as high in the state prison system. So, I'm not surprised at all

    July 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm |