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Utah AG soliciting tips on civil rights violations in FLDS towns

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Posted at 4:56 PM, Dec 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-12 23:56:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Arizona Attorney General's Office is planning a meeting on Monday to discuss civil rights issues within the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.

The Utah Attorney General's Office plans to be in attendance, hoping to use the opportunity to solicit tips about crimes and civil rights abuses on its side of the border.

"We hope that people will let us know if there are problems going on," Missy Larsen, a spokeswoman for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, told FOX 13 on Friday.

The meeting, at El Capitan School in Colorado City, will deal with the aftermath of a lawsuit leveled by Ron and Jinjer Cooke, who sued the towns alleging discrimination in getting utilities because they were not members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church. The couple won a multi-million dollar verdict and a federal judge ordered the town governments not to discriminate.

At Monday's meeting, the Utah Attorney General's Office would hand out these cards:

A card being distributed by the Utah Attorney General's Office soliciting information about civil rights violations in Hildale.

A card being distributed by the Utah Attorney General's Office soliciting information about civil rights violations in Hildale.

"We would want to hear if people don't have ways of getting utilities, if people are feeling unsafe because of certain problems that are going on within the community, if people feel like they don't have what they need just to exist as a human being," Larsen told FOX 13.

The Utah Attorney General's Office would neither confirm nor deny any ongoing investigations into criminal activity in Hildale. The U.S. Justice Department is in the midst of a lawsuit against the town governments, accusing them of civil rights violations.

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage "marriages." He is still in charge of the FLDS Church and has told faithful followers not to cooperate with state officials.

Larsen acknowledged that because of that edict from Jeffs, people may still not come forward.

"We urge people to come forward if they feel unsafe in any way," Larsen said. "If they feel like their rights are being violated in any way, we urge them to let us know. They have a choice not to, and we can't do anything about that."