Colorado City Woman Escapes Forced Marriage

PHOENIX (Tuesday, January 22, 2013) -- A 26 year-old Colorado City woman who was compelled into marriage at the age of 14 by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, and held against her will for more than 10 years has been granted temporary custody of her six children and left the community, Attorney General Tom Horne announced today. 

Ruby Jessop was granted temporary custody of her six children and was able to leave Colorado City earlier this month. Her departure was made possible because Mohave County Sheriff’s Deputies have a greater presence in Colorado City to provide law enforcement protection. $420,000 for added patrols by Deputies was made available by Horne to Mohave County in 2012.

“It is unacceptable that anyone would be married against her will and forced to live in a community in which she feels unsafe, “ Horne said. “Ruby Jessop was forced into marriage by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs who compelled her to marry her second-cousin Haven Barlow in 2001.  Her exact whereabouts were unknown for years until very recently when she was able to escape the town.  Because of the $420,000 I made available from this office to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, and which the Board authorized for Sheriff Tom Sheahan, more Deputies are now working in Colorado City.  Those Deputies were instrumental in making sure that Ruby and her young children could safely leave.”

In 2001, Ruby’s sister Flora Jessop approached the Attorney General’s Office complaining that her sister Ruby, who was then 14, was being held against her will in homes in Colorado City and Hildale, Utah. Arizona and Utah officials launched a major effort at that time to find Ruby, but she could not be found. It was only weeks ago that she finally escaped Colorado City.

Flora Jessop left the FLDS Church in 1986 and has been working to tell Ruby’s story to the public.  She is also helping others who want to escape from Colorado City.

 “Since taking office in 2011, I have worked to have legislation passed that would ensure proper professional law enforcement is available in Colorado City. One reason is to make sure that people like Ruby can leave if they want to do so,” Horne added. “While I will continue that effort in the legislature, making nearly half a million dollars available to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office was absolutely crucial in getting Ruby Jessop to safety. There are more people like Ruby in Colorado City, and these funds will run out in approximately six months. Therefore, I urge Arizonans to contact their legislators and ask them to support a bill that would authorize Mohave County Sheriffs Deputies to do the policing in Colorado City rather than the local marshals who are under the control of the dominant church.”

Horne concluded, “I want to thank Sheriff Tom Sheahan and the Board of Supervisors for their dedication to public safety throughout Mohave County, including Colorado City. I also want to recognize the efforts of Victoria Stazio, who is representing Ruby and has done tremendous legal work to get Ruby temporary custody of her children.”