A judge in South Dakota has ordered the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound near Pringle, SD to be sold at auction. It was the third major FLDS compound established outside the church’s traditional base on the Utah/Arizona border after FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs seized control of the church following the 2002 death of his father, Rulon Jeffs.

The first of those compounds, the 1,691 acre YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, was seized by the State of Texas in the aftermath of THE 2008 police raid that led to the arrest and conviction of Jeffs and several of his followers on charges ranging from child rape to bigamy.

Jeffs was convicted in 2011 and was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison on two counts of child rape. He is currently held in the Poweledge Unit near Palestine, Texas.

A second compound near Mancos, Colorado was previously seized and sold.

The South Dakota property, located in the scenic Black Hills, occupies approximately 140 acres and includes several homes, living quarters and other structures, including a hillside watchtower. Despite the fact that a gravel county road cuts through the property, most of the compound is shielded from view by fencing and tall pine trees.

Seventh Circuit Court Judge Matt Brown ordered the sale of the South Dakota property to satisfy a $1.7 million judgment Claude Seth Cooke, Patrick Pipkin and Andrew Chatwin won in federal court after proving that their civil rights were violated by the church and town marshals. It was also determined that Pipkin and Chatwin had been unlawfully jailed.

The incident that led to the lawsuit occurred on October 13, 2015 in Short Creek, an FLDS stronghold on the Utah/Arizona border that is actually two towns, Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.

A showdown took place on the Arizona side of the border with a dispute over who controlled a property that once housed the town’s zoo. As things developed, Cooke, Pipkin, Chatwin and Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies were pitted against Chad Johnson and the Colorado City Marshall’s Office.
Pipkin and Chatwin were subsequently jailed by the marshal’s office. It was later established in federal court that Cooke, Pipkin and Chatwin did indeed have right to the property and that their constitutional rights were violated when they were detained by town marshals as well as when Pipkin and Chatwin were jailed.

Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechaley is charged with overseeing the sale of the property on February 25th outside the Custer County Courthouse. He estimates about 20 people still live at the compound and has told reporters that he does not anticipate problems if and when he has to evict them following the sale.