Best-selling author Betty Webb to address polygamy for downtown lecture series

March 13, 2014

The journalist responsible for casting a national spotlight on polygamist Warren Jeffs says the practice is alive and well in the state of Arizona, and the man with 78 wives is still calling the shots in prison.

Author Betty Webb will present “Polygamy in Arizona” as part of the spring 2014 Humanities Lecture Series at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Hosted by the School of Letters and Sciences, the lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., March 20 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, room 128, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. portrait of author Betty Webb Download Full Image

The lecture series, now in its sixth year, is open to the general public and is free.

“We are honored to have Betty Webb accept our invitation to talk about the intriguing subject of polygamy,” said Mirna Lattouf, series lecture organizer. “As a human rights issue, this topic is so essential and yet complicated, as it involves families and children. It is our community’s obligation to better understand this issue, as it is at the heart of the human condition.”

The theme for this year’s series is titled “The Human Condition.” In addition to polygamy, subjects explored this semester include the legalization of marijuana, race and human sex trafficking.

Betty Webb was a hard-bitten, tough-as-nails reporter with the East Valley Tribune when she decided to write full-time as an author. Her two prize-winning mystery series – the Lena Jones books and the Gun Zoo series – offer a fully-realized picture of Arizona, from barrios to mountaintop mansions.

Her second book, “Desert Wives,” was reviewed by the New York Times, became a national best-seller and shed light on the ritualistic sexual abuse and widespread welfare fraud committed by Warren Jeffs, the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints in Colorado City, Ariz.

Money talks, according to Webb.

“The sexual abuse of little girls wasn’t going to make a bit of difference to officials, but I knew if I followed the money trail, then people would feel very differently about polygamy, and that’s exactly what happened,” Webb said. “Officials started to look into Warren Jeffs and welfare fraud, and that’s what ultimately brought him down.”

Webb said that during her research in Colorado City, she was followed by local authorities and chased off at gunpoint. Later, when her book came out, she received several death threats and was intimidated by male members of the sect at several book signings.

“I had three polygamist men come to my first few signings in Phoenix, and they would sit in the front row and cross their arms and scowl,” Webb said. “Then they’d follow me out to the car and try to intimidate me. That all stopped when I introduced them to the audience and told them to stand up. They got up and left, and I never saw them again.”

Despite the fact that Jeffs was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in 2007, Webb says he still calls the shots from behind bars.

“Jeffs is allowed a telephone in prison and he delivers his sermons via speakerphone and everybody listens to him in a meeting hall in Colorado City,” Webb said. “He is their Lord and master, and they still follow him.”

Webb will follow the lecture with a signing of "Desert Wives" and a few others from her Lena Jones series.

The lecture series will conclude on April 17 with Dominiqe Roe-Sepowitz’s presentation of “Human Sex Trafficking in Arizona.”

A recording of Webb's lecture can be viewed at

For more information on the spring 2014 Humanities Lecture Series, call Barbara Lafford at 602-496-0623, or email her at

Reporter , ASU News


Act One Culture Pass available at all ASU Libraries

March 13, 2014

Phoenix-based Act One, which has provided educational field trips to the visual and performing arts for Arizona's underserved schools since 2011, has adopted the ever-popular Culture Pass Program. The Act One Culture Pass is available at 43 local libraries, and allows library-goers a free admission for two at participating arts and cultural institutions.

All that is needed is a library card. Download Full Image

Passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. They are not renewable and “holds” cannot be placed on them, nor will library staff be able to pull them for you. The display for the Culture Pass Program is at the front of each library.

Library-goers find the destination in which they are interested, and take the card to the checkout desk. Staff give them a date-due slip admitting two people for a visit to the museum in the next seven days. Passes may be limited to general admission only. Special exhibitions may not be covered, and other restrictions may apply. One pass per family, two passes per month.

Linda “Mac” Perlich, a member of the Act One board of directors, says the founding mission of Act One is "to bring the arts to the school-age students in the Valley. To date, Act One has provided educational field trip experiences for more than 40,000 Valley and Tucson students, with a comprehensive educational plan that compliments the experience on stage.

"We know that arts education is vital, and this expansion into the visual arts, and expanding to include the family makes perfect sense. The Act One Culture Pass will bring families to the wonder-filled museums and attractions in the Valley," Perlich says.

“We are so excited that the programming is returning; patrons state how they've enjoyed checking out new places that they would not otherwise have thought of visiting,” says Teresa Becker from Mesa Public Library. “Because the Culture Pass Program requires users to own a library card, we've seen an increase in new card applications since the program's inception.”

Act One has also expanded the Culture Pass to include live performing arts.

Participating arts organizations include: Arcosanti-Cordes Junction, Arizona Historical Society, Museum at Papago Park, ASU Gammage, Ballet Arizona, Cave Creek Museum, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Childsplay, Deer Valley Rock Art Center, Desert Botanical Garden, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, The Phoenix Symphony, Phoenix Zoo, Pueblo Grande Museum, Rossen House Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Superstition Mountain Museum.

Participating libraries include: Scottsdale Public, Phoenix Public, Peoria Public, Glendale Public, Chandler Public, Mesa Public, ASU, Cave Cree, Tempe, Buckeye and Apache Junction.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library