There is concern among polygamous watchdog groups that from behind bars Warren Jeffs has ordered all woman and girls who are at least 12 years old in his fundamentalist sect are to become pregnant.
The 57-year-old Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas on convictions of sexually assaulting two underage girls. From jail, Jeffs still controls his followers through messages and even phone calls and many still call him their prophet and are wary of outsiders.
Word of the pregnancy plan has spread through the polygamous towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. The area is headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Residents say the plan calls for a small group of men to father all of the children.
“It won’t be by their husbands or by any kind of relationship that they know about, it will be by these three men,” said Ross Chatwin, a former FLDS member who still lives in Colorado City. “That’s all that is deemed to be worthy enough.”
Rumors of the mass impregnation plot have reached the Utah Attorney General’s Office, according to spokesman Paul Murphy, who recently asked those dealing with the polygamous communities to be extra vigilant in their efforts to prevent child abuse.
Ex- members of the FLDS church say they worry that if it is true, Jeffs’ faithful flock will allow the plan to happen.
“They obey without question; they blindly follow,” Chatwin said. “They will turn their daughters over at the door and say: ‘OK, here’s my daughter, here’s my daughter. Yes, she’s going through puberty now. Yes, here she is. Here she is.’”
Observers of the polygamous sect surmise the rumored plan could be a way for Jeffs to jumpstart growth among his followers after recent years of turmoil in which hundreds fled the church and sexual relations between husband and wives were banned.