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Mon, May 20

'Hitler' comparison drawn by man<BR>ousted from polygamist community<BR>

A church leader compared Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints prophet Warren Jeffs to Adolph Hitler during a recent press conference.

Ross Chatwin held up a copy of a book "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" as he spoke to reporters and state officials at his Colorado City home Friday, said an activist working against abuses within the polygamist community.

"(Chatwin) compared Warren Jeffs to Hitler.

He said there are wives telling on husbands and children telling on parents," the activist, Jay Beswick, said.

"He said Jeffs keeps them all in line with fear and intimidation."

Beswick, who set up the press conference, said Chatwin read six-pages of a prepared speech as dozens of reporters from state and nationwide news organizations listened for about a half hour.

Utah Attorney General's Office investigator Ron Barton, who heads up a task force that investigates closed societies, was also in attendance.

Chatwin, his wife, Lori, and their children answered questions for an additional half hour, said District 3 Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, who also attended the press conference.

Johnson said at one point Chatwin, 35, became overwhelmed with the media attention that he asked Johnson to speak along with him at the conference.

"One of the biggest surprises was when Ross compared Jeffs to Adolf Hitler.

It was astounding to me.

Those were strong words for him to be saying," Johnson said.

"By nature this is a very quiet sect.

To come out and defy the prophet, and the rebellion of the people here, is very courageous."

Johnson said the fact that Chatwin felt compelled to speak even though he still believes in the sect and polygamy shows the depth of abuse going on within the community.

Chatwin, however, has only one wife and six children, the oldest an 11-year-old daughter.

The ousted church leader refused to give his wife, children and home to the church, as he was commanded to do so when he was excommunicated Jan.

10 along with 20 other church leaders, including Dan Barlow, the only mayor in the 19-year history of Colorado City.

Chatwin's family decided to stay with him rather than be assigned to a new husband, as is routinely done.

Johnson said that when Chatwin was ousted from the church he was asked by Jeffs to "go out and apologize" for wrongs committed, although Chatwin has no idea what he did wrong.

"This is a power struggle," Johnson said of the cloistered border towns, including Hildale, Utah, that practice polygamy.

"Jeffs wants all the power."

During the press conference Chatwin read from a prepared speech, which was obtained by the Miner.

"Almost all the families in this society are really good and hard-working people.

They are just taught (brainwashed) from infancy to just trust, believe and follow like sheep and not to ask questions," Chatwin wrote.

"If we don't understand something, then we were told 'put it on the shelf of belief.' Well, I'm tired of being kept ignorant, and my shelf was so stacked up it broke."

Chatwin went on to say that, "we need help to stop Warren S.

Jeffs from destroying families, kicking us out of our homes, and making our children into some kind of political dollar brownie point system.

"This Hitler like dictator has got to be stopped before he ruins us all and this beautiful town," he wrote.

However, Chatwin fell short of revealing the inner workings of the communities, which combined have about 10,000 people.

In his prepared speech he said he felt "uncomfortable" doing so.

"I've come to realize, however, that this secrecy is not good for the society.

It creates a tense environment and a suspicious people," he wrote.

"There are few systems of checks and balances to govern how Jeffs operates."

The possible threat of violence at the press conference prompted Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan to send 10 deputies to Chatwin's home.

Sheahan said there was no trouble Friday but that extra deputies would be assigned to the Colorado City area for an indefinite period.

Warren Jeffs - the son of prophet Rulon Jeffs, who is said to have had between 35 to 75 wives - assumed leadership of the church 16 months ago at the death of his father.

The church, through its communal United Effort Plan, owns most of the homes in Colorado City.

Chatwin said he believes that Jeffs is now the sole owner of the UEP, which Chatwin estimates to be worth about $100 million, according to an Associated Press report.

The mainstream Mormon Church abandoned polygamy a century ago as the Utah territory sought statehood, but fundamentalists refused to give up the practice.

The men of the fundamentalist church are taught they must have at least three wives to ascend to heaven but many take more.

Throughout the West there are believed to be about 30,000 practitioners of polygamy and 100,000 nationwide, according to a Jan.

23 AP report.


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