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7:31 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

Officials suggest solutions to Colorado City problems

Mohave County officials disagree about whether federal officials should investigate alleged criminal activity in the polygamous community of Colorado City.

District 3 County Supervisor Buster Johnson said the state Attorney General's Office or the federal government should investigate Colorado City.

Johnson said investigators could enter a home and request birth certificates and seek DNA samples to determine parentage of children.

"If I was going in, go to a house with numerous children," he said.

Johnson said allegations that he sexually harassed two former female employees in his Lake Havasu City office do not damage his credibility in fighting alleged sexual abuse of children in Colorado City.

Activist Flora Jessop, who fled Colorado City when she was 16 years old, agrees.

"Buster Johnson has been instrumental in getting what little has been done in the state done," she said.

County Attorney Bill Ekstrom disagrees with Johnson, saying federal agencies such as the FBI should stay out of Colorado City.

"The last thing we want to have is to have the federal government coming into our communities and telling us how to live," he said.

"They should spend time on national security issues."

Jessop and others who want to do something about Colorado City need to contact their representatives in Congress, according to District 1 County Supervisor Pete Byers.

His district includes Colorado City.

Press contacts for the two Republicans representing Arizona in the Senate, John McCain and Jon Kyl, could not be reached for comment.

Sheriff Tom Sheahan recommended the formation of a two-state unit to investigate alleged criminal activity because Colorado City borders the Utah town of Hildale, which also in polygamous.

The multi-state unit could investigate welfare fraud, sexual abuse and "a multitude of allegations," Sheahan said.

Jessop agreed in part.

"The biggest thing that needs to be done is Arizona needs to decide to work with Utah instead of sitting on our thumbs," she said.

Jessop ally Linda Binder, who is finishing her second term in the state House of Representatives and was elected to the state Senate Nov.

5, called for more cooperation.

She is a Republican from Lake Havasu City.

"Everybody need to link up together," she said.

"People can't or shouldn't be silent on this issue if they are in positions of authority in this community, in Mohave County.

They need to join together and stand up and be counted that they will not tolerate the abuse of women and children and also the abuse of our welfare system and tax code."

Binder, who is finishing her second term in the state House of Representatives, said polygamy needs to be stopped.

"Maybe somebody should introduce legislation to make polygamy a crime," she said.

When Arizona became a state in 1912, it was required to have a provision in its constitution prohibiting polygamy, County Attorney Bill Ekstrom said.

However, the Legislature never enacted a criminal statute making polygamy a crime.

Dan Barlow, the mayor of Colorado City for 17 years, has a different perspective.

"My thoughts (are) that the people are living their lives, and there is very little crime in our community," he said.

"If there are situations like child molest(ation), we handle it through the proper channels: the sheriff's office, the county attorney's office."

Asked about the conviction of his son, Dan, for child molestation, Barlow said, "Whenever you have people, you have some people problems.

I can't control a 50-year-old son."

Barlow said the community would cooperate with any investigation.

"We have said repeatedly that our police department is open and the city functions are all above-board," he said.

"Our community is a very open community, and the people are a friendly people, and all the things that are said against us are just made up," he said.