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FLDS Church fined nearly $1 million in child labor case

Company claims FLDS children used in harvest weren’t employees
Posted at 1:23 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 16:25:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has fined the Fundamentalist LDS Church and some of its members for child labor violations.

In an order issued this week, U.S. District Court Judge Jill Parrish fined the church and its bishop, Lyle Jeffs, as well as the owner of a southern Utah company where hundreds of children were put to work on a farm picking pecans. She ordered them to pay over $900,000 in damages and back wages.

"The court now issues a default judgment on the issue of back wages and liquidated damages as to these defendants," Judge Parrish wrote in the order.

A judge previously fined Paragon Contractors over $1 million for child labor violations stemming from the 2012 incident. Hundreds of children in the church were put to work on a Hurricane farm in 2012. Video of it was captured by CNN. Federal authorities claimed the children were pulled out of school under orders from church leaders, including Lyle Jeffs.

Lyle Jeffs was convicted and sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison in 2017 from a massive food stamp fraud case involving the FLDS Church. He is the brother of imprisoned FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in Texas for child sex assault.

The FLDS Church has been dogged by numerous criminal investigations and civil lawsuits for years, related to the practice of underage "marriages" within the polygamous faith and communal property disputes involving land in Hildale, Utah, and neighboring Colorado City, Ariz.

Read the judge's order here: