BANNOCK COUNTY, Idaho - The Bannock County Sheriff's Office discovered nine boys had been denied food, beaten and forced to go outside in cold weather without coats. The boys are members of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect based on the Utah-Arizona border.
The boys, between the ages of 11 and 17, were removed July 10 after one boy ran away to Salt Lake City, Utah, and found the nonprofit group Holding Out Hope, focused on helping anyone who wants to get away from a polygamous situation.
Nathan Jessop, the man the boys were staying with, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor child abuse.
The boys are out of the house now. Some are with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare while others are with their mothers. The sheriff's office said the important part is that they are no longer subject to abuse.
"We don't care their religion, their beliefs, other than if it crosses that border into abuse then we're going to react on it," said Det. Lt. Toni Vollmer, who handled the case. She said this is the first case of its kind in the area, though there have been offshoots of the FLDS church known in Power County.
When a younger boy ran to Salt Lake, he discussed the abuses he and the other boys had faced while at the 9897 Clifford Drive, located just outside the Pocatello city limits. That led to FBI involvement and the investigation by the sheriff's office followed suit.
"They were sent to this boys home to work on their behavior, so they could go back to that community and be productive members of their community," said Volmer.
They were sent on what the boys described as a repentance mission, but Jessop was also there on a repentance mission as well.
Jessop pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor child abuse. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and will be on probation for two years.