By Angela Wills
Willie Jessop defended his prophet with the fierceness of a pit-bull. However, by the time he’d made his way to the fourth-floor hallway at the Sandra Day O’Connor federal courthouse, he’d changed sides. He’s now the government’s star witness, testifying on behalf of outsiders that he’d once viewed as enemies.
Jessop is best described as a middle-aged man with brown hair of no particular shape or style, who has spent years as security chief and spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was likely seen as the highest profile FLDS member as head of the “God Squad”, that is of course with the exception of the group’s prophet, Warren Jeffs.
For some time, Jeffs was on the same level as Osama bin Laden and Whitey Bulger on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Jessop admits as he testifies on the witness stand that he aided the fugitive prophet as he ran from authorities.
At the civil trial, which is expected to reach the jury next week, the government alleges that the FLDS runs Jessop’s hometown like a theocracy, controlling almost every aspect of life in Utah, Hildale and its neighbor, Colorado City, Arizona. Anyone who isn’t FLDS is discriminated against by the cities and their shared police force, according to attorneys from the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
However, the cities say that the federal government is discriminating against them and the FLDS because they practice a religion not favored by others.
Only the cities are on trial: Jeffs and the FLDS are not named as defendants.
Jessop has been on the stand for the majority of the day when a government prosecutor finally asks the question that everyone wanted answered: Why did you switch sides?
His response was one of great unexpectedness as he replied, “Those sons of bitches were raping little girls down in Texas. I knew it and they knew I knew it, and this battle rages on today.”
As he was cross-examined by the city’s lawyers, Jessop fires back, “I’m fully aware that your clients have all taken the Fifth Amendment.” He went on to announce his plans to sue them.
Jessop’s separation from his church started in 2011 when Texas authorities slipped him an audiotape of Jeffs s*xually assaulting a 12-year-old little girl in an FLDS temple.
Jessop’s world came tumbling down after hearing that tape. He could no longer ignore the investigations and s*x charges as evidence of the government’s religious prosecution. He could no longer accept or protect a spiritual leader he now saw as a rapist and pervert, prompting Willie Jessop to speak out and switch sides.