House Judiciary Committee passes bill that may lead to polygamous commune investigation
PIERRE, S.D. — The House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill which is based on concerns about a fundamentalist Mormon outpost in Custer County.
The vote was 12 to 1, and the bill will now go to the chamber’s floor.
Newscenter1 brought you a special report on the issue this past week.
The compound is 140-acres, with a guard tower and is surrounded by barbed wire fencing. It was started more than ten years ago and is led by Seth Jeffs, who is Warren Jeffs’s brother.
Warren Jeffs is currently serving life in prison for child sexual abuse.
State law requires births and deaths to be reported, but the Department of Health says no such records have been filed from the compound’s address since its establishment.
One former resident says births have occurred on the site, including two of her own children.
The bill would make it a misdemeanor to not report births and deaths. This would potentially give the State Attorney General a reason to investigate the commune.
Not obtaining birth certificates is an established way that fundamentalist Mormon communities use to avoid being indicted for child sexual abuse and the practice of forcing children into marriage. This is because registering for the certificates often requires information on the age of the mother and identity of the father.