Custer area residents expressed growing concern about a lack of information about children being home-schooled and about a lack of birth or death certificates for residents at a secretive religous compound near Pringle in Custer County, reports the Custer County Chronicle.
Concerns were expressed during a public meeting hosted by the newspaper, which had hosted a recent screening of the film Prophet's Prey. The film focuses on allegations of child sexual abuse by male leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The church's leader, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life prison sentence in Texas for child sexual assault and aggravated child sexual assault of 12- and 15-year-old girls.
A Newsweek/Daily Beast report in 2012 indicates that heavy equipment and people from the church's headquarters in Eldorado, Texas, were moved to the Custer County compound that year. The compound had been established as a "land of refuge" in 2003, shortly after Warren Jeffs took the reigns of leadership of FDLS. Observers of the church believe the move to the Custer County site was prompted by the state of Texas moving to seize the Yearning for Zion Ranch at Eldorado, with the state alleging "bigamy, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault" on the property.
Local officials told the Custer crowd that they keep in contact with and monitor what happens at the compound. There has been no indication from state of South Dakota officials that they are considering following the steps taken in Texas.
Need more information? Read more about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the compound in Pringle on the Black Hills Knowledge Network and visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network archive.