Son who spoke out against infamous polygamous leader dies
By LINDSAY WHITEHURST
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A man who spoke out against his infamous father who led a polygamous-sect has died, his sister said Tuesday.
Roy Jeffs was abused sexually and physiologically as a child by their father Warren Jeffs, and died by suicide May 29, his sister Rachel Jeffs said.
He was determined to tell his story to help other loved ones break away from the group controlled by their father, who is serving a life prison sentence in Texas after being convicted of sexually assaulting girls he considered wives.
Roy Jeffs, 26, told The Associated Press in 2015 that his father controlled the group based along the Utah-Arizona border with an iron fist, separating families and banning things like movies and bicycles.
Roy Jeffs' mother remained in the group, and the complete separation from her was especially painful for him, his sister said. A funeral is planned for Saturday, and the family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay the costs.
"I know his whole goal was to bring the family together and be more kind to each other in a more loving world," said Rachel Jeffs, who has publicly said her father sexually abused her as well. "I know he just wanted everyone to be happy."
Warren Jeffs refused an AP request for comment made through Texas prison officials on Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney or a representative to speak on his behalf. Lawyers who have previously represented Jeffs did not immediately respond to messages.
The group known as The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have a spokesman or a phone listing where leaders can be contacted. Rachel Jeffs said her father continues to control the group from prison.
Roy Jeffs said he was sexually abused by his father before he turned 6 years old. He finally decided to leave after years of being controlled, manipulated and shuffled around the country to atone for perceived transgressions, he told the AP.
"If I think about too hard, think about everything that has happened, it just breaks me down real bad," he said in 2015.
He said his father imposed his control over followers by reassigning children and wives to different men, sending people to "houses of hiding" and wielding the constant threat of exile. Cellphones, toys, movies, the internet, bicycles and even swimming have been strictly forbidden.
"I just want the truth to be out there," Roy Jeffs said. "I want that information to be there so when people are questioning things and they are looking around, my story is there."
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