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Anti-polygamy activist to be deposed in FLDS case

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A judge has ordered an anti-polygamy activist to give a deposition about conversations she had with the woman suspected of making hoax phone calls that sparked the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch.

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs' defense attorneys are seeking to question Flora Jessop about conversations she had with Rozita Swinton. They're seeking to block any evidence from the Texas raid from Jeffs' pending trial in Arizona on sex crimes charges.

In an order issued in Kingman, Ariz., on Tuesday, Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven F. Conn said that despite Arizona prosecutors' insistence that they won't use any YFZ evidence in Jeffs' upcoming trial, the court is not convinced the issue would never have to be addressed.

"As long as the circumstances under which those warrants were issued could become an issue at some point, it would seem that a person having information about those circumstances could conceivably be a material witness," Conn wrote.

Swinton is considered a "person of interest" in the phone calls that sparked the April raid on the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas. Someone claiming to be a pregnant 16-year-old trapped in an abusive marriage to an older man called family crisis shelters for help.

The raid led to the removal of hundreds of children who were later returned to their parents. A dozen men, including Jeffs, have been indicted on charges related to underage marriages. Jeffs' lawyers are demanding to know how much cooperation Arizona authorities gave to Texas law enforcement during the raid.

Jessop agreed to an interview with Jeffs' defense team last month, but the voluntary questioning was canceled when she showed up with a TV camera crew in tow. Criticizing Jessop for failing to cooperate by turning the interview into a "media event, whether for self-promotion purposes or otherwise," Conn ordered her to submit to a deposition. She can have a lawyer present, but no media, the judge said.

Jeffs' attorneys are planning to question Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran, one of his deputies and a Texas Ranger next week about the raid.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com