Jury awards couple $5.2M in case against Arizona town

2014-03-24T10:10:00Z Jury awards couple $5.2M in case against Arizona townPatrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A jury in federal court in Phoenix has awarded a couple $5.2 million in a case against the Arizona town of Colorado City.

Ron and Jinjer Cooke said town officials refused them water and sewer service because they were not members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Colorado City, on the Arizona-Utah border, is a stronghold of cult-like separatists from the Mormon faith known for practicing plural marriage.

Here's a news release from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne on the verdict:

Attorney General Tom Horne announced a major verdict obtained yesterday against abuse in Colorado City. This includes a $5.2 million jury verdict on behalf of Ron and Jinjer Cooke, who were discriminated against by five official Colorado City defendants, based on religion. Colorado City is where young girls are kept in polygamous marriages by older men, and boys are kicked out of town so the older men will not have competition.

Horne stated: “The defendants denied the Cookes water, sewer and electric service based on religion. The Cookes have been without city water service for over five years. The jury also found that the defendants intimidated and interfered with the Cookes’ housing rights. The discrimination was because the Cookes are not members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, headed by Warren Jeffs. Jeffs is serving a life sentence plus 20 years in a Texas prison.”

Horne added: “Discrimination based on religion will not be tolerated in this state.”

The defendants are: Town of Colorado City, AZ; City of Hildale, UT; Hildale-Colorado City Utilities; Twin City Water Authority, and Twin City Power.

The jury also found that the defendants violated the Arizona Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against the Cookes and other non FLDS residents. This finding will enable the state to obtain injunctive and affirmative relief to eradicate the discrimination.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

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