RELIGION

Town once run by polygamist leader is divided between loyalists and defectors to modern world

  • In this Dec. 16, 2014 photo, a girl runs past a street sign in Hildale, Utah. The sister cities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., once run by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, are split between loyalists who still believe he is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

    In this Dec. 16, 2014 photo, a girl runs past a street sign in Hildale, Utah. The sister cities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., once run by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, are split between loyalists who still believe he is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)  (The Associated Press)

  • This Dec. 16, 2014 photo shows Hildale, Utah, sitting at the base of Red Rock Cliff mountains, with its sister city, Colorado City, Ariz., in the foreground. The two towns separated by the Utah-Arizona border, once run by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, are split between loyalists who still believe he is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

    This Dec. 16, 2014 photo shows Hildale, Utah, sitting at the base of Red Rock Cliff mountains, with its sister city, Colorado City, Ariz., in the foreground. The two towns separated by the Utah-Arizona border, once run by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, are split between loyalists who still believe he is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Dec. 16, 2014 photo, girls stand in a playground in Colorado City, Ariz. The sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, once run by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, are split between loyalists who still believe he is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

    In this Dec. 16, 2014 photo, girls stand in a playground in Colorado City, Ariz. The sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, once run by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, are split between loyalists who still believe he is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)  (The Associated Press)

Nearly four years after polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides, the community he once led on the Utah-Arizona border is divided.

The sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, are split between loyalists who still believe Jeffs is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society.

The signs of change include a compound built for Jeffs that has been converted into a bed and breakfast by his former bodyguard and the opening of an elementary school that had been closed for 13 years.

Still, those small changes are overshadowed by indications that Jeffs' flock remains large and loyal.