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Hana Gartner: DO YOU THINK WARREN JEFFS IN FACT HAS DONE
YOU LEGISLATORS, LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATIONS A HUGE FAVOUR?
Mark Shurtleff: Listen, it was never – and I know by calling it these names it sounds like I'm – this is Mark versus Warren. That this is somehow I've targeted him from day one. It's not that. It's ah, we found out that there were abuses going on within this and some other polygamous sects ah primarily relating to women and children. And my job is to do something about it.
I was quite frankly shocked and amazed that nothing had been done for 50
years. There – these – these crimes have been committed for many
years and the fact that no law enforcement agency, no government official
did anything about it, the fact that officially the state of Utah and the
state of Arizona turned a blind eye to what was going on in those communities,
gave encouragement to the likes of Warren Jeff to continue these practices
and to feel that they're above the law to do anything they wanted to
And he continues to flaunt that, that I'm above the law, by fleeing prosecution.
Hana Gartner: WHAT CRIMES HAVE AH HAVE THESE FUNDAMENTALISTS
COMMITTED IN THE STATE OF UTAH?
Mark Shurtleff: Well besides bigamy which is the legal term we use for polygamy here, they have committed child sexual assault, child rape, ah incest, ah civil rights violations. We believe and are continuing to investigate allegations of white collar crime, tax evasion, welfare fraud, Rico type – racketeering type operations and those types of things.
Hana Gartner: WHICH IS GOING TO BE EASIER TO PROVE BECAUSE
THESE ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE HAVE BEEN CIRCULATING FOR A LONG TIME AND
WITHOUT A COMPLAINANT DO YOU HAVE A CRIME?
Shurtleff feels very passionately about this issue and met with British Columbia Attorney General Wally Oppal in December 2005 to share what he has learned about polygamy and offer help. At the press conference in Vancouver they admitted they have to work together if they are going to take on polygamy.
Hana Gartner: THAT'S USUALLY INTIMIDATING.
Mark Shurtleff: Very intimidating, very difficult. Ah more difficult is the fact that they are such a closed society that you can't infiltrate them. How do you – how do you get the word to victims that you're a victim and that there's somebody here to help you?
Now in addition to all that we've done from an investigation-prosecution standpoint, we've done a great deal more in the state of Utah on what we call a safety net approach and that is getting funding, getting organizations in place that provide services to be able to get the word into the community that we're here to support victims within this community. Not the prosecutorial angle but we're here to help. Because here's the problem.
Hana Gartner: BUT THEY DON'T TRUST YOU SO WHY SHOULD –
Mark Shurtleff: They don't trust us. They've been taught from the cradle you don't trust. We're the beast, we're the enemy, we're the devil. Ah and that's what make it very, very difficult. It takes time.
But we're making progress. We work with polygamists who support us in getting the word into these communities who oppose absolutely oppose the abuses that have gone on and want to help us get the word in to these communities about what's available to help them. And the reason why it's so difficult for a woman primarily to come out and to testify against her husband or against Warren Jeffs who ordered her to marry him when she was a minor, ah and that is the fact that from the cradle she's been taught that she is nothing but property. She's chattel.
Hana Gartner: WHEN YOU TOOK OFFICE IN 2000 THIS WAS A BIG
DEAL FOR YOU. WHY DID YOU MAKE IT SUCH A PRIORITY?
Mark Shurtleff: It wasn't – it wasn't – I didn't mention the word polygamist one time the first time I ran for office. I grew up here. I – you know, mea culpa, I was like everybody else.
I knew they were polygamists. I went to school with them. I mean I grew
up and lived just less than a mile from the Warren Jeffs' compound
when he lived in Salt Lake City before he moved everything down there to
get himself into position to become the leader.
He ran the school. He had a huge polygamist compound at the mouth of one of our canyons there. I live near there. I went to school with Steeds, who are polygamists.
And it was always kind of the same thing. You're weird, you're different. You know, I don't know how to interact with you so I'd rather just ignore you. I was not aware coming into office of the number of child bride marriages.
I was only in office for four months when the Mohave County Attorney came
to me and said I want to prosecute Tom Green which was the first big nation – worldwide
kind of media case on Tom Green. And he said I can't afford to do it
in my little county.
I said, well I'll pay for it. I'll give you two investigators to do the job. My investigators came back to me and said this – first of all Tom Green got his 12 and 13 year old brides from – some of them – from FLDS, Hilldale, Colorado City.
And they said, by the way it's much more widespread. It's not just Tom Green. It's many of them. And I said, why is isn't somebody doing something about it? And ah that's what started it all. I said I cannot sleep. I mean how can you? Many people in Canada might think, what do we care in the huge – you know, world, Canada that why would we care about this tiny sect of a thousand people down in some remote corner of British Columbia?
And why would Utahans care so much about this little remote group down in southern Utah that are geographically isolated. It's easier just to ignore what's going on. But I think every one of us has to see that if you allow that injustice to occur then where does it stop? Martin Luther King said it best. He said: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and people have to know.
And one of the greatest things that's come out of all of this is media attention, is the fact that we – that you are all shining light of truth on what's going on and people hear about it, people want to do something about it. It motivates them to find a way to help, whether it's to motivate elected officials to take action or to get involved in non-profit organizations like the one now that's working to provide help to those lost boys who have been kicked out of their community. People will respond when they learn about what's going on.
Hana Gartner: WHAT SPECIFICALLY HAVE YOU BEEN DOING? I KNOW YOU WENT TO BRITISH COLUMBIA AND YOU SPOKE WITH WALLY OPPAL, THE B.C. ATTORNEY GENERAL.
Mark Shurtleff: I went to the Attorney-General of Arizona first. In fact, when the new Attorney-General was elected there, Terry Goddard, several years ago, I didn't wait till he took office. I went and met him before he came into office and said, Terry, you kneed to know what's going on way up on your northern border. He had no clue. Once he learned about it he's self-motivated. Arizona has handed out more indictments than Utah. Arizona has seized the school district down there. I mean they're motivated.
I went to the Attorney-General of Texas when Warren moved many of his people and built that big compound down there. I've talked to Mexican attorneys-general along the border. And so I think everybody needs to know.
That's why of course I went to Canada to talk to the Attorney-General of British Columbia a couple of years ago and then again when ah Mr. Oppal was put into office to go back and educate him about what's going on.
Hana Gartner: NOW HE'S ON THE FBI'S MOST WANTED
LIST. SO HOW DANGEROUS IS WARREN JEFFS?
Mark Shurtleff: Ah he – not such a concern that he himself is dangerous but he has surrounded himself with his protectors, his –
Hana Gartner: BODYGUARDS?
Mark Shurtleff: His bodyguards.
Hana Gartner: THEY'RE ARMED.
Mark Shurtleff: They're armed.
Hana Gartner: WILL THEY WILL – BE READY TO KILL?
Mark Shurtleff: I believe they definitely will do anything they can to protect their prophet.
Hana Gartner: WHAT IS YOUR WORST FEAR?
Mark Shurtleff: That he'll be – that he'll be found and that there will be a confrontation and that there will be violence. That's why every chance I get, perchance he's listening to your program, Warren, turn yourself in, please. We don't want a violent confrontation.
Warren tells his people that God is protecting him, that his God is fighting
his battles. That he's protected. Well then prove it. Again, the same
rules don't apply to Warren Jeffs. His followers that have been indicted,
they all turned themselves in. They came in and they said, well we're
going to turn ourselves in. We're going to argue that our practice
is protected by the Constitution in America or by the Charter in Canada.
We're going to – we're protected by that. But Warren won't do it. Why won't Warren turn himself in?
Hana Gartner: ARE YOU – SO OFTEN WE HEAR – WE'VE HEARD THE NAMES WACO AND JONESTOWN INVOKED. IS THIS THE SERIOUS FEAR ON YOUR PART?
Mark Shurtleff: There are some who tell us that. There are some that are very concerned about that. We – we heard initially years ago of weapons caches and there was some concern what would happen when they dedicated their huge new temple in Texas. But we're learning that that probably isn't the case. Prior leaders before Warren did not want guns. They didn't want their people to own guns.
So I don't believe there will be something like that, although if Warren asked his people to, I think that they're – that they're – that they're strongly committed to do whatever he tells them to do.
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