The Latest: Lawyers seek to counter testimony by ex-wife

AP News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2016 2:15 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — The latest on a trial marking one of the federal government's boldest efforts to crack down on polygamous towns on the Arizona-Utah border (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

Attorneys defending two towns in Arizona and Utah in the federal government's discrimination suit got the ex-wife of a leader of a polygamous church to confirm that local authorities did assist her in her child custody dispute.

The lawyers were trying Wednesday to contradict Charlene Jeffs' testimony that notifying the Colorado City, Arizona, marshal's office in advance about a custody hearing might result in her children being hidden from her.

The lawyers cited instances when the marshal's office helped her with a welfare check and with her picking up her children after a judge ruled she was entitled to custody.

Jeffs said, however, it did take some negotiation to get the office involved in both instances.

The U.S. Justice Department contends that Colorado City and nearby Hildale, Utah, violated the civil rights of residents who weren't members of the church. The communities deny the allegations.

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11:25 a.m.

The ex-wife of a leader of a polygamous church is testifying in the trial of the federal government's discrimination suit against two towns in Arizona and Utah.

Former church member Charlene Jeffs is the ex-wife of Lyle Jeffs, a brother of fellow sect leader Warren Jeffs.

She testified Wednesday that an officer from the Colorado City, Arizona, marshal's office attended a 2015 custody hearing regarding her children and admonished her for not telling the office in advance about the hearing.

She said she didn't notify the office because she feared it meant her children would disappear in the meantime.

The U.S. Justice Department contends that Colorado City and nearby Hildale, Utah, violated the civil rights of residents who weren't members of the church. The communities deny the allegations.