Warren Jeffs’ son won’t pursue sex abuse charges against the FLDS leader

Posted at 3:32 PM, Oct 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-03 00:08:01-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The son of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs continues to speak about about the child sex abuse he claims he suffered at the hands of his father.

In an interview with FOX 13 on Friday, Roy Jeffs said he wants to share his story to help others within the cloistered Fundamentalist LDS Church.

"I'm just hoping that somehow my story will put the point across to them that it's actually true," he said.

Roy Jeffs, the son of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, in an interview with FOX 13's Ben Winslow.

Roy Jeffs, the son of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, in an interview with FOX 13's Ben Winslow.

Jeffs alleges he was sexually abused as a child by his father. Now 23, he said he finally broke away from his family and his church after years of isolation.

"In my mind I still believed my father. So I thought, 'You know, either I can live the rest of my life absolutely miserable in here or maybe get a little more joy out there.' Either way, I'm going to be destroyed," he said, referring to FLDS beliefs that people who leave are "apostates."

Warren Jeffs is serving a life, plus 20-year sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage "marriages." Roy Jeffs said he did not believe his father's crimes until he left the church, and also confronted his own past.

"The way he did it is he made me feel like I was the one at fault," he said. "I always thought it was my problem."

Most recently, others in the Jeffs family have accused their father of sexual abuse. Roy Jeffs said three of his siblings have said it happened to them.

"There's probably hundreds of victims out there that have been abused by him," said Tonia Tewell, the executive director of Holding out Help, a group that helps people leaving polygamous communities.

But Roy Jeffs told FOX 13 he is not interested in pursuing criminal charges against his father.

"I feel like my father's got what he's deserved. As far as justice, he's got a life sentence," he said, referring to Warren Jeffs' conviction in Texas.

Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap said in an email to FOX 13 that he would be interested in speaking with Roy Jeffs and his siblings to determine if a criminal case could be leveled against Warren Jeffs. It is unknown if there would be a statute of limitations issue until more was known about the allegations, Belnap said.

See photos of Warren Jeffs and some of his alleged wives obtained by FOX 13 (faces blurred to protect any alleged crime victims):

Roy Jeffs said he wrote a letter to his father in prison confronting him about the abuse -- a letter that went unanswered. He said what he would like to see is his father's communication from the Texas prison cut off, saying he believes his father's visitors record his messages and replay them to his followers.

"That's how he's still affecting so many people's lives," Roy Jeffs said.

Tewell said with Warren Jeffs' edicts and rules becoming increasingly strict and fracturing families, many are choosing to break from the FLDS Church. She said her group now has a "waiting list" for people seeking help after leaving.

"People need to step up, the state needs to step up," Tewell said. "We need to get some funding in place to get some housing and counseling services that can help all the people that want to leave and are waiting to leave."

Information on Holding Out Help can be found here.