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Judge orders Utah-based polygamous sect to sell South Dakota compound

Undated aerial photograph of FLDS compound in South Dakota.
Undated aerial photograph of FLDS compound in South Dakota.
Provided by Sam Brower/Jon Krakauer

PRINGLE, S.D. — A South Dakota judge ordered a secretive polygamous sect to sell its compound in the Black Hills to pay for a lawsuit settlement.

Court documents show that a sheriff has been ordered to sell the Fundamentalist LDS Church property near Pringle in Custer County.

The sect still owes nearly $1.7 million to three men as part of a 2017 settlement in federal court. Two of the men were allegedly detained and unlawfully jailed in Arizona after a dispute over access to a property that the sect had leased to the men.

The 140-acre property includes nine parcels of land, KELO-TV reported. It will be sold as one during an auction Feb. 25 at the Custer County Courthouse, said Sheriff Marty Mechaley. The compound sits along a gravel road and is shielded from view by tall pine trees, a privacy fence and a guard tower.

Seth Jeffs, who authorities have said led the FLDS compound in South Dakota, is the brother of Warren Jeffs, who is considered by the group to be a prophet. Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered to be his brides.

In recent years, the group has lost hundreds of members and control of the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, amid a major leadership void started by Warren Jeffs’ imprisonment.

Seth Jeffs took a plea deal in a Utah multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud case in 2016. His brother Lyle Jeffs was sentenced in 2017 to prison for his role in carrying out the scheme.