Judge: Polygamous leader's brothers can refuse to answer questions in child labor probe

IndustriesAssociated Press

A federal judge says two brothers of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs can cite their religion in refusing to answer questions about suspected child labor violations on a Utah pecan farm.

Nephi and Lyle Jeffs, who are considered high-ranking members of the secretive sect, testified in a Salt Lake City courtroom Wednesday that their church doctrine bars them from talking about the group's dealings.

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U.S. District Judge David Sam says those beliefs are sincere. He ruled in September that another Jeffs follower didn't have to testify about the inner workings of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Sam cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision exempting Hobby Lobby on religious grounds from a requirement to cover employees' birth control.

Federal labor authorities suspect sect leaders told as many as 1,400 children to pick pecans on the southern Utah farm in 2012.