A high-profile member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church is pursuing a restraining order against a private investigator who has spent years tailing members of the polygamous sect.

Willie Jessop, who has acted as a spokesman for the FLDS, filed for a restraining order accusing Sam Brower of trespassing.

"Defendant has become more aggressive and confrontational in the last few weeks. He now has no problem trespassing on plaintiff's property and photographing his children," Jessop's attorney, Rod Parker, wrote in court papers filed with a judge in St. George's 5th District Court late Tuesday.

Parker accused Brower of inviting a TV news crew to tag along as he drove past "no trespassing" signs while conducting surveillance on June 7 at Jessop's properties in Hildale and in the Canaan Gap.

"The incident ... has so upset and frightened plaintiff's children and family that he can no longer tolerate defendant's intrusions," Parker wrote.

Brower denied any wrongdoing and suggested Jessop and FLDS leaders may be nervous about what he's been investigating.

"It's just unequivocal lies," he told the Deseret News late Tuesday. "I fully expect the FLDS and their attorneys to make desperate attempts to stifle me for my investigations into their activities."

The private investigator has worked for attorneys suing the FLDS Church on behalf of ex-members. He has tracked down leaders and members to serve court papers, uncovering FLDS enclaves scattered across the western United States.

Brower also recently filed an affidavit in support of a restraining order for Jessop, preventing him from contacting a 16-year-old girl subpoenaed to testify before a Texas grand jury. In it, Brower accused Jessop of harassment and threatening behavior toward the girl.

He said Jessop's request for a restraining order "is an attempt to retaliate for the affidavit for the restraining order in Texas."

Parker said Jessop's restraining order was not retribution against Brower. The attorney said his client is not interested in pursuing criminal trespassing charges.

"We just want him to leave Willie and his family alone," Parker said.

A judge was said to be considering the motion for the restraining order, which was filed late Tuesday. If granted, a full hearing would be scheduled sometime in the next 10 days.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com