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Former wife wants child support from FLDS ranch leader

Published: Thursday, May 14 2009 9:53 p.m. MDT

A best-selling author and the ex-wife of the leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch is demanding child support for their eight children.

In a petition filed in a Texas court, Carolyn Jessop is asking a judge to order Frederick Merril Jessop to pay child support, health insurance, private school expenses, day care, therapy, attorney's fees and other expenses.

"The children have been in the possession of petitioner (Carolyn Jessop) continually since the date the parties ceased living together," Carolyn Jessop's attorney, Natalie Malonis, wrote in court documents obtained by the Deseret News on Wednesday.

Two of Jessop's children, Arthur Jessop and Betty Jane Jessop, are over 18. Malonis wrote that in their case, Carolyn Jessop "is seeking only retroactive child support for the time prior to the children reaching the age of majority." For Carolyn Jessop's 9-year-old son, who is disabled, she is demanding child support indefinitely.

"Petitioner requests the court to order (Frederick Merril Jessop) to obtain and maintain a life insurance policy payable to petitioner (Carolyn Jessop) for the benefit of the children to be applied toward respondent's support obligation under the child support order in the event of respondent's death," Malonis wrote.

Interestingly, Malonis was the court-appointed attorney for FLDS leader Warren Jeffs' daughter Teresa during a contentious court battle during the custody case involving 439 children from the Utah-based polygamous sect. She attempted to depose Frederick Merril Jessop to glean information about the FLDS Church's financial situation as part of that case.

The YFZ Ranch leader is facing criminal charges accusing him of performing an illegal marriage ceremony by wedding his 12-year-old daughter to Warren Jeffs. He is one of a dozen FLDS men facing criminal charges. Court hearings are under way in Texas where defense attorneys are seeking to have evidence seized in last year's raid on the ranch suppressed.

Carolyn Jessop's custody case is being heard in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court, where she won a paternity judgment back in 2005. Frederick Merril Jessop, 72, lives on the YFZ Ranch just outside Eldorado, Texas. Carolyn Jessop's daughter Betty also lives on the ranch and returned to the FLDS Church after she turned 18. Carolyn Jessop chronicled her experiences as her husband's fourth wife and her departure from the FLDS Church in her best-selling book "Escape."

E-MAIL: bwinslow@desnews.com

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