Colorado City family faces civil action against polygamist church

A Colorado City family faces eviction from their home when their civil case goes to trial next month in Mohave County Superior Court.

At issue is the United Effort Plan, a trust that owns the property that Lenore and Milton Holm and their children have lived on for more than 27 years.

The United Effort Plan is a business arm of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints.

The church broke away from the Mormon Church and practices polygamy mostly in Colorado City, at the northern tip of Mohave County, and adjacent Hildale, Utah.

In 1976, the trust gave Milton Holm and his previous wife permission to occupy the vacant lot on Carling Street in Colorado City as it had with other members of the church.

Then church leader, Leroy Johnson, told Holm he could build a house and live there forever.

No documents were signed, Lenore Holm said.

Holm has since built a six-bedroom, 3,600-square foot home on the lot that, when finished, is expected to be a 5,000-square foot home.

In early 2000, Lenore Holm said the church forced them out of their home because she refused to allow her then 16-year-old daughter, Nicole, to marry Wynn Jessop, a 39-year-old church member, who already had a wife and children.

In September 1999, then-15-year-old Nicole Holm, started working at a Colorado City hardware store.

The store's manager was Jessop, whose marriage was arranged by church leaders to girl despite the fact he was 39 and already married.

Jessop was an acquaintance of Warren Jeffs, who is currently the FLDS prophet succeeding his father Rulon Jeffs who recently died.

Jessop had worked on Warren Jeffs' home laying carpet and other work, Holm said.

At first, Lenore Holm reluctantly agreed to the arranged marriage then changed her mind.

"I realized that if I allowed it to happen, I couldn't live with myself," Holm said.

The very next morning in February or March 2000, her husband called the church's leaders trying "to be in line with the prophets," Lenore Holm said.

Church leaders, however, told him that Rulon Jeffs wanted him to move far way.

UEP served an eviction notice to Holm in June, she said.

When church members started to take their property away, the Holms contacted the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

A lawsuit was issued and the case was sent to Superior Court and the church backed off from seizing the Holms' property.

Lenore Holm, a former member of the church, said she is still not sure if she or her husband have been ex-communicated since she has not had any contact with the church.

Nicole Holm was taken to various church members' home in the community and even as far away as Canada breaking off any contact with her mother, Lenore Holm said.

Holm said her daughter had been brainwashed by the church to go against her mother and compared her to Elizabeth Smart, the Salt Lake City teen-ager who was allegedly kidnapped for nine months by a Utah couple.

Lenore Holm said she has only started talking with her daughter in the past few months.

Now 19, Nicole Holm, is living with Jessop and has a child of her own.

She and Jessop live in Idaho are no longer members of the church, Holm said.

UEP denies Holm's objection of the arranged marriage in 2000 had anything to do with the trust's eviction of the Holms, Salt Lake City attorney Rodney Parker said.

Parker, who is representing UEP, said the use of the real estate property in question is for church members only and the Holms are no longer members of the church.

Parker said the Holms were ex-communicated after they left the church because they were not in keeping with the church's principles.

Parker also said Nicole Holm ran away from her family.

The Holms currently still live on the contested property.

Milton Holm now works in drywall construction in Las Vegas, Lenore Holm said.

In 2000, Milton Holm saw job opportunities quickly disappeared in Colorado City and neighboring areas.

He was forced to work out of state including Colorado.

Lenore and Milton Holm have been married since 1993.

Lenore Holm's daughter, Nicole, is from a previous marriage.

Other older children have fled the area because of the family's banishment from the church, she said.

The one-day civil trial between the Holms and UEP is scheduled for May 15 in Superior Court Judge James Chavez courtroom in Kingman.

"It'll be a decision whether we have a home or not," Lenore Holm said.

"We're just hoping the FLDS church will pay us for the value of our home."