Warren Jeffs is serving 120 years in prison for marrying and sexually assaulting underage girls.
But from his prison cell in Texas, Jeffs still holds an entire Arizona community captive -- Colorado City.
It's a town that's almost entirely composed of members of the FLDS church.
Top law enforcement officials say that Jeffs continues to wield his power through the Colorado City Marshals, the local police force.
It's a department that has been rife with misconduct, records show.
"They are under the thumb of the dominant church," Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said.
When asked by the ABC Investigators if the Marshals are a legitimate police agency, Horne responded "Definitely not."
Horne has worked to shut the Marshals down.
But for the past two years, state lawmakers have stalled his efforts by failing to pass legislation that could decertify and disband the department.
"I'm very frustrated," Horne said.
History of 'Abuse'
Former church members, advocates and victims say that is allowing more than 100 years of abuse to continue.
"Ask them why they sit back and allow the abuse of the woman and children in our state and think that's OK," said Flora Jessop, a former church member.
Jessop said she escaped from the community more than 25 years ago after she was forced to marry her first cousin as a child bride.
She was finally able to help her younger sister Ruby break away six months ago.
"I'm finally finding my voice," said Ruby Jessop in her first television interview ever with the ABC15 Investigators.
Ruby was forced into a marriage at 14 to an adult man.
She said by 15, she was pregnant.
Ruby said she can't even remember the number of times she tried to run away.
"The Marshals Office is the one that brought me back to be placed back into the abuse,"
History of Misconduct
The Colorado City Marshals became an official department in the 1980s.
It's a small force currently with six officers.
But in the last decade, seven Marshals have had their police certifications revoked, according to state investigative records obtained by the ABC15 Investigators.
Those records show:
- One Marshal was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16-year-old girl.
- Another Marshal admitted to molesting a five-year-old girl.
- A Marshal, who was an admitted bigamist, also was accused of failing to report child sex abuse.
- Investigators also discovered two more wrote letters to Warren Jeffs, pledging their allegiance to him while he was a fugitive on the run from the FBI.
The Marshals are also being sued by the Department of Justice for "unconstitutional policing," according to federal court records.
Waiting for Help
"We are literally fighting for our freedom and our civil rights," said Andrew Chatwin, a former church member.
Chatwin broke away from the FLDS church ten years ago.
He's returned to Colorado City and works with private investigator Sam Brower to help others escape.
"There is no law here," said Brower, an author and nationally-known expert on the FLDS church. "This is the most lawless town in America.
"If that's how the state of Arizona and all these politicians think it should be run, I've said it before and I'll say it again, that's shameful. They should be ashamed of themselves."
Horne told us he doesn't understand why lawmakers have balked at holding the Marshals Office accountable.
"I think (the Marshals) are totally dysfunctional," he said. "They participate in the oppression. And that oppression is the worst injustice that's happening in Arizona right now on my watch as attorney general."
The bill Horne helped propose this year would have created a metric to shut down Arizona police departments that have a high-percentage of officers who get decertified.
It passed through the House of Representatives overwhelmingly.
But it died in the Senate without a hearing or vote.
Sen. Chester Crandell is the chair of the Public Safety Committee. He said he's responsible for killing the bill.
"They're getting their orders from Warren Jeffs," he said. "To me, it's a bigger problem than just the police department."
Crandell said he held the bill because it didn't go far enough. He plans to work on a new bill for next year that has a more comprehensive approach.
"Doesn't it stand to reason that you could go higher up and basically try to fix the whole systemic problem," he said.
But no one the ABC15 Investigators spoke with is convinced anything will get done. They've heard the promises before.
"Obviously it's for show. Obviously it's lip service," Brower said. "If they do nothing, then they are safe. That's what they choose. They choose the safe route."
So far, the only real action has come from the Attorney General.
Last year, Horne's office set aside $400,000 to bring in a county sheriff deputy to patrol Colorado City. His office was able to find the money again this fiscal year.
Jessop said it's made a difference.
"They are the good guys," she said. "The only ones you can trust if something happens up there."
It took Flora Jessop 12 years to rescue her sister Ruby and Ruby's six children.
She said without the help of the county sheriff's office, it wouldn't have been possible.
"If it had not been for the Mohave County Sheriff's deputies, Ruby would not have her children today because the Marshals did everything they could to block it."
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