Feds claim FLDS children put to work frequently on southern Utah farm

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An image by CNN of the 2012 pecan harvest in southern Utah where hundreds of FLDS children were put to work in what federal authorities claim was a violation of child labor laws.

SALT LAKE CITY — In a new court filing, the U.S. Department of Labor accuses a company of repeatedly putting children from Warren Jeffs’ polygamous church to work harvesting pecans at a southern Utah farm.

The filing is a counter to one filed in U.S. District Court by Paragon Contractors, who insist they have done nothing wrong. However, the federal government alleges they have repeatedly violated child labor laws.

The court battle stems from a 2012 incident in which hundreds of FLDS children were seen at a southern Utah farm picking pecans. The U.S. Labor Department said FLDS leaders ordered the children pulled from school to work on the harvest.

“Instead of going to school, hundreds – if not over one thousand –of children were performing the duties related to Paragon’s contract with SUPR. Some children were taken out of school to perform these duties on a year-round basis to prepare the ranch for the harvest. Other children were taken out of school for weeks at a time to perform these duties during the actual harvest,” the court filing states.

A hearing has been scheduled next month on whether the company should be held in contempt.