Mike Terry, Deseret News
Dan Fischer

Affidavits submitted to Congress in the aftermath of a hearing on crimes within polygamy are accusing a prominent ex-member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church of abuse.

But Dan Fischer accused the FLDS of using him as a distraction from the scrutiny being leveled against the polygamous sect.

"It is evident that my work with the Lost Boys and my congressional testimony last week has made the FLDS sect pretty angry, enough so that they would attack me," he said Friday.

One of Fischer's ex-wives, some of his children, and family friends wrote affidavits that were sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee claiming Fischer was abusive. The affidavits were submitted Thursday by Rod Parker, a Salt Lake attorney acting as a spokesman for the FLDS Church. They were included in a packet outlining the church's clarified policy on marriage and a letter from Parker chastising the committee for not soliciting FLDS testimony.

However, they may be too late to be included in the printed hearing record. That deadline was Wednesday, according to Erica Chabot, a spokeswoman for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Fischer, who made his fortune in the dental products industry, left the FLDS Church in 1995 with only one of his three wives. In the years since, he has created a foundation to help the so-called "Lost Boys" — teens who either leave or are kicked out of the FLDS Church — providing them with shelter, counseling and education. He has also bankrolled lawsuits against the polygamous sect.

The affidavits were drafted in response to Fischer's testimony before the committee, which is investigating crimes associated with polygamy.

"When I left Dan, I didn't want to stir anything or have any bad feelings toward him but just to live my own life and let him live his," said an affidavit written by Marcia Barlow, Fischer's third wife. "I was very careful not to mention to my children bad things about Dan or about the other ladies. But after I personally witnessed Dan's testimony on the July 24 hearing, where he lied about his father, about Uncle Warren, and about our religion, I wanted to tell the truth and let the other side be heard."

Some of his children claimed they were beaten. One of Fischer's daughters, Melinda Fischer Jeffs, described being beaten black and blue for flirting with boys.

"I felt unreal, dazed, hated. I wanted to die," Jeffs wrote. "I wanted Dad to suffer as I had. I decided to call the police. I had my hand on the phone ready to dial 911. I didn't dare."

Fischer called the allegations of abuse "exaggerated beyond any level of equity" but acknowledged "physical confrontations on all sides" involving his wives. He denied anything more than common corporal punishment with his children.

"I can't say that I've been a perfect parent," he said. "That said, it is interesting that the charges of FLDS 'affidavits' trying to malign me really amount to charging me with living an FLDS lifestyle and conducting myself in accordance with the teaching of the leadership and the typical day-to-day life of FLDS adherents."

The affidavits are the latest in a family feud of sorts that erupted immediately after the Senate committee hearing concluded in Washington, D.C. Family members made the same allegations against Fischer and questioned the credibility of Carolyn Jessop, another ex-FLDS member who testified. FLDS supporters and critics argued in the hallway, loud enough that police moved the group away from the Senate offices.

The hearing was prompted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is pushing for a federal task force to investigate crimes in polygamy, particularly in the FLDS Church.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com; lee@desnews.com