- A former FLDS cult member told Insider he was forced to work in construction as a child.
- From the age of 14, he said he was operating heavy machinery at job sites around the country.
- He said companies with ties to FLDS were contracted to work at the build sites of major hotel chains.
When Wendell Jeffson was 14 years old, he said his father — a now-imprisoned leader of a polygamous cult — accused him and other teenage boys of wanting to have sex with some of his more than 70 wives.
That was four years before Jeffson, now 21, left the Fundamentalist Church of Later-Day Saints — a radical group that splintered off of the mainstream Mormon church 93 years ago. The Mormon church abandoned the practice of polygamy over a century ago and is not affiliated with FLDS.
Jeffson explained that in the FLDS, which is widely considered a cult, there was no talk of the “birds and the bees.”
The adolescent didn’t understand what he was being accused of, nor was it true, but the punishment stood regardless, he said.
Jeffson said that he and other boys who came under the ire of his father and cult leader, Warren Jeffs, were “cast out” of the massive FLDS ranch in Texas — which Jeffson said his father continued to control from his cell — and made to work for construction companies owned by members of the cult.
Jeffson said working long days off-the-books, often unpaid, the children who were sent to work for these companies operated heavy machinery on construction sites, building hotels and housing communities around the country in the 2010s.
Multiple outlets have reported about accusations of the use of child labor by companies linked to FLDS. In 2021, FLDS was ordered by the Department of Labor to pay nearly $1 million for violating child labor laws,