(SALT LAKE CITY) — Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in prison, has ordered most of his followers to stop having sex except for 15 men — and the women the men choose — designated to father all future children for the sect.
The fundamentalist leader, who is still considered the head of the group, issued the edict from prison in Palestine, Texas, where he is serving out his prison sentence for child sex assault, ABC News’ Salt Lake City affiliate reported.
The order effectively bans the church’s members from having sex with the exception of the 15 chosen men and the church’s female members.
“A lot of these revelations are a grab for attention,” said Rick Ross, an expert on cults and the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints. “He is trying almost through the revelations to maintain the illusion that he is God’s elect, he is the prophet. He’s saying: ‘Don’t forget me.'”
A raid in 2008 on the group’s Yearning For Zion compound in Eldorado, Texas, brought the FLDS community into the national spotlight. Authorities found a polygamous community and pregnant child brides. Pictures of women in pastel prairie clothes with tightly braided hairstyles and stories of the controlling, male-dominated environment offered the world a glimpse into the lives of the reclusive group.
In 2011, Jeffs was convicted by a Texas jury of having sex with two girls, who were 15 and 12 years old. DNA evidence at the trial proved Jeffs had fathered a child with the 15-year-old girl.
Membership in the polygamist community has decreased following revelations of sexual abuse.
The church’s remaining 10,000 members live mostly in Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
Despite decreasing membership, there are core faithful who still view Jeffs as a prophet.
Ross said the public can expect to hear a lot more of Jeffs’ “incoherent” revelations as he spends the rest of his life in prison.
“It’s wishful thinking of a deeply disturbed mind,” he said. “Jeffs cannot really exercise the kind of control he once did. These are the rantings of a man who has really lost it.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Arwa Damon, Waffa Munayyer and Bryony Jones, CNN
Melissa Stern, WDAF
Matt Egan, CNN