In 2008, the “Yearning for Zion Ranch,” where hundreds of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) worshipers lived, was raided.
FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was arrested and many families were separated.
— Viva, La Nacion (@nacion_viva) March 26, 2018
One of Warren’s many sons, Roy Jeffs, is now speaking out about the raid and his life before he left FLDS in 2014.
As KTVB reports, Roy admitted that he had “a great life” in FLDS, one that was filled with many happy memories thanks to his mom and — at times — his dad.
“I had a great life. With my mom, we used to tend the garden together, we would play games with my dad for a couple hours, then have a big dinner. Every once in a while he’d throw a party.”
The 24-year-old explained that the 2008 raid was bittersweet. While he understands that his father wouldn’t be behind bars if the police weren’t able to collect the recordings that revealed Warren having sexual relationships with underaged girls who he claimed to be his “spiritual wives,” Roy also feels for the many children separated from their families.
According to KTVB, over 400 children were handed over to CPS following the raid. Roy said being separated was something they were used to, but that shouldn’t have been the case:
“We had already been put through that kind of situation by my dad.”
Roy’s brother, 23-year-old Raymond Jeffs, agreed that while the raid allowed them to see that life outside the church wasn’t all bad like they were taught, it was also very traumatizing for them as children.Raymond Jeffs/Instagram
Raymond, who left the church a year after his brother, explained:
“It was scary. It was uncertain. We were told the world wanted to kill us, that people wanted to destroy us and our moral values.”
Following the raid, Roy returned to the ranch. But as he got older, his father began punishing him for his sins.
As a form on punishment, Warren would send away members of his family who he felt needed to repent. Roy was 12 when he was first sent away with his mother and several more of Warren’s wives.
Two years later, Roy was sent away again, this time to a ranch in Wyoming without any family members. Though he had 54 siblings (some half, some full), Roy was forced to get through his teen years being isolated from kids his age.
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) October 2, 2015
Roy told KTVB that after he returned from Wyoming and was reunited with his family, he was sent away again three weeks later when Warren, who was in jail at the time, learned Roy was having feelings towards his father’s younger wives.
Roy and other members of the church believed that Warren was able to read minds. After leaving the church, Roy began to realize that his father couldn’t read minds at all. Instead, “his father always knew what he was thinking because he was always confessing.”
This son of prophet and polygamist Warren Jeffs has 54 brothers and sisters. Yet former the Fundamentalist Mormon church member said he felt alone, https://t.co/cZcLNJGVqf via @KristaJ1993 pic.twitter.com/9iZVBGs2dr
— Linda Dono (@LindaDono) April 8, 2018
Roy explained that his father told them:
“The confessions were necessary because God revealed to him all of the details of your life. If you didn’t confess, you weren’t being honest, and that in itself is a sin. You’ve got to do it as an insurance policy.”
Roy said his dad told him he would be “destroyed” if he left FLDS. However, he ultimately left after he thought about what it would be like to start his own family with in the FLDS. He said:
“If I finally get married here in the FLDS, I will live in constant fear of my dad taking my family away because he’d done that to almost every man.”
Roy credits the 2008 raid to opening the eyes of many members of FLDS. He explained:
“[It] definitely opened our eyes to what the world was really like and that peace and happiness exist out here. Without it, I don’t think this many people would’ve left.”
Warren was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 2011. The 62-year-old will be up for parole on July 22, 2038.