A son of jailed polygamous leader Warren Jeffs says he was manipulated, shuffled around the country, and assigned to work crews to atone for his perceived transgressions before leaving the sect last year. The comments by Roy Jeffs, now 23, provide a window into the secretive sect based on the Utah-Arizona border in which cellphones, toys, movies, bicycles, and even swimming lessons were strictly forbidden. He says Warren Jeffs imposed his control over followers by reassigning children and wives to different men, sending people to "houses of hiding," and wielding the constant threat of exile. He says he lived a childhood almost entirely cut off from the outside world and didn't see a movie at a theater until he was 20, when he slipped away to one in Tucson, Arizona.
Jeffs says his father ordered him to confess his thoughts and temptations, then would punish him harshly for the admissions. "I was scared of him," says Jeffs, who left the sect last year and now lives in the Salt Lake City area. "He told me he knew exactly what I was thinking." Roy Jeffs also says his father sexually abused him before he was 6 years old. He says he's not filing a police report because Jeffs is already serving a life sentence in a Texas prison. "I just want the truth to be out there," he says. "I want that information to be there so when people are questioning things and they are looking around, my story is there." He says the transition is difficult but he is enjoying his new freedom and recently went boating and wakeboarding for the first time—and has seen a lot of movies. (Read more Warren Jeffs stories.)