His Cook County neighbors aren't exactly putting out the welcome mat for Seth Jeffs.

"We just want to bring awareness to the community, that there's a landowner here with his past," Cook County businessman Mike Larson said this week. "I trust that he's trying to make a better life for himself. The evidence doesn't dictate that."

Larson is part of a group of Cook County residents who organized two gatherings this weekend in response to the arrival of Jeffs, who has been part of a religious sect with practices that include its leader having sex with underage girls. Criminal complaints allege Jeffs was among a group of sect leaders who watched as numerous such acts took place.

The gatherings include a showing Friday evening of a documentary about the sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). On Saturday morning, a community forum will feature two people from Utah who have extensively researched the sect.

The meetings will take place at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais, but the county isn't involved with them, County Attorney Molly Hicken said in an email.

"The community members who have scheduled the meeting and film showing did so independent of Cook County, paid the expenses themselves, and are renting the space at the Cook County Community Center as any private party is entitled to do," she wrote.

The FLDS has similar roots to the much larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons, but is a separate entity. The Mormon church banned marrying multiple spouses in 1890, but it has remained a practice of the FLDS.

Larson said the concerns he and others have about Jeffs have nothing to do with religion.

"This is not about religious intolerance," he said. "This is not about Mormonism or even polygamy. Everyone is welcome here in Cook County. This is (about) a well-documented pattern of criminal behavior. And it's disturbing."

Included in those concerns is a criminal complaint filed in Salt Lake County District Court in Utah alleging that Seth Jeffs' brother, Warren S. Jeffs, sexually abused a girl beginning when she was as young as 8 as Seth Jeffs and others watched as part of a religious ritual.

Warren Jeffs was sentenced in 2011 to a life sentence plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two girls he said were his wives.

Seth Jeffs was leading an FLDS compound in Pringle, S.D., when he was arrested for food stamp fraud during a raid in 2016. He pleaded guilty for defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and was released from jail with credit for time already served.

It's not certain that Jeffs still is part of the sect. A call to a phone number listed in correspondence between Jeffs and Cook County officials was answered by a man who identified himself as "Seth." When a reporter identified himself, the call was disconnected, and a follow-up phone message and email message to Jeffs went unanswered.

But the size of Jeffs' property acquisition is concerning, Larson said. The 40-acre parcel of land on Pike Lake Road near the Cascade River was purchased on Aug. 7 by Emerald Industries, which lists Seth Steed Jeffs as its agent. Cook County property records and land use permits showed plans to build a 6,000-square-foot "pole building/apartment" on the land.

"A 6,000-square-foot building. That's a large building in Cook County," Larson said.

Cook County granted Jeffs a land-use permit for construction of a 5,760-square-foot building on Dec. 6. It's not certain if construction is underway. Mitch Travis, wetlands and land use specialist for the county, said he has not been to the build site but did see that preliminary construction of a driveway was taking place.

The speakers at Saturday's forum will be Tonia Tewell, founder of a nonprofit that helps people transition from a polygamous culture; and Sam Brower, a private detective who has specialized in investigating Warren Jeffs and FLDS. Organizers are covering the pair's travel expenses, Larson said, but otherwise they are not being compensated.

Larson said he realizes there's no legal path to keeping Jeffs out of Cook County. But he wants residents to be aware of a pattern of the sect setting up compounds in isolated places.

"We've seen this same behavior in other communities ... in Utah, in Arizona, in British Columbia, in Texas," he said. "You have a 'live and let live' attitude, and all the sudden you look and there's a compound and there's nothing you can do."

If you go

• Friday - free showing of the documentary "Prophet's Prey," about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 7 p.m., Cook County Community Center, 317 W. Fifth St., Grand Marais

• Saturday - Community forum moderated by Rhonda Silence of radio station WTIP featuring guest speakers Tonia Tewell and Sam Brower, 9 a.m., Cook County Community Center