A federal jury on Monday found that the twin border towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, violated the constitutional rights of certain residents when town officials functioned as agents of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Members of the polygamous sect make up the bulk of the populations of both towns.
The jury found that the towns denied non-FLDS members basic services, such as police protection, building permits and water hookups.
The verdict announced Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Phoenix awarded $2.2 million to the six individuals who sued the local governments. However, a settlement on that part of the case was reached between the parties shortly before the jury verdict was announced, so the towns will have to pay only $1.6 million, according to The Associated Press.
The judge will now decide what the towns must do to correct the problems.
The federal government is waging another legal battle with the church. The AP writes:
“The U.S. Labor Department has a separate action against a ranch with ties to the church over a pecan harvest in which children were forced to work long hours with few breaks.
“During the civil rights case, the Justice Department said town employees assisted the group’s leader when he was a fugitive and took orders from church leaders during closed-door meetings about whom to appoint to government jobs.
“They say local police ignored … food stamp fraud scheme and marriages between adult male church members and underage brides.”