PRINGLE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota judge ordered a secretive polygamous sect to sell it’s compound in the Black Hills to pay for a lawsuit settlement.
Court documents show that a sheriff has been ordered to sell the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ property near Pringle in Custer County.
The sect still owes nearly $1.7 million to three men as part of a 2017 settlement in federal court. Two of the men were allegedly detained and unlawfully jailed in Arizona after a dispute over access to a property that the sect had leased to the men.
The 140-acre (57-hectare) property includes nine parcels of land, KELO-TV reported. It will be sold as one during an auction Feb. 25 at the Custer County Courthouse, said Sheriff Marty Mechaley. The compound sits along a gravel road and is shielded from view by tall pine trees, a privacy fence and a guard tower.
The FLDS is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the faith abandoned the practice in 1890 and prohibits it today.
Seth Jeffs, who authorities have said led the FLDS compound in South Dakota, is the brother of Warren Jeffs, who is considered by the group to be a prophet who speaks for God. Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered to be his brides.
In recent years, the group has lost hundreds of members and control of the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, amid a major leadership void started by Warren Jeffs’ imprisonment.
Seth Jeffs took a plea deal in a multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud case in 2016. His brother Lyle Jeffs was sentenced in 2017 to prison for his role in carrying out the scheme.
This story has been corrected to reflect that a South Dakota judge ordered the sale. It was not the result of a foreclosure, as KELO-TV had originally reported.