A network of safe houses, posters in local businesses and a billboard near a secretive religious compound are being planned to help people who want to leave the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound near Pringle, reports the Custer County Chronicle.
A phone number and basic information promising help are needed on the billboard and posters, while the state Department of Social Services should be ready to step in with assistance, an expert in helping members of the sect told a group of locals who have been meeting regularly. Business owners and providers of safe houses will need training on how to communicate with defectors, who will be "terrified."
The mayor of Custer compared the efforts to the Underground Railroad that helped people escape slavery in the southern United States in the 1800s. The Utah non-profit group Holding Out HELP is assisting the efforts in Custer County.
Wives of the imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs are being housed at the walled compound, in part to prevent them from testifying in court, the Custer group was told.
The group of concerned citizens and local officials began meeting due to concerns that children born at the compound, probably to underage girls, were not getting birth certificates or being educated as required by law.
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.
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