Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A 15 year old Bride is Brought into Bountiful

Today we heard anonymous witness #4. She told that court that she was 24 years old, and had been born into the FLDS at Hildale/Colorado City in the United States. She was transferred to Bountiful at the age of 17, married into a plural marriage and has one child now aged five.

In response to questioning from FLDS lawyer Wickett, she continued, “I believe that men and women are sealed for all eternity. I fell in love when I had a dream in which I saw a man's face, and told my father that I wanted to marry. The Prophet asked me if I had anyone in mind, and he turned out to be the man whose face I had seen in the dream. I took it as a revelation from God, and after the marriage ceremony I came to Canada on a student visa. If I had not been allowed to enter this country, I would have gone back to the States. If I had not liked my situation in Bountiful I would have told my mother and my biological sisters, and other members of my family.

I received a Grade 12 Graduation Certificate (from Bountiful), and am now a 3rd year accounting student in Cranbrook. I want my own business, and I need a work visa to work in Canada. I was the one who decided on this course for myself.

My marriage was made in heaven; I made the right decision and I am happy. There are 24 children in the house. Relations with the children are quite good. If there are disagreements with sister wives, I go off and pray about it, or seek a solution about what we need to do to make it better. We discuss problems with the children, talk about it, remove privileges – there is no violence. We are always bumping shoulders, helping others out.

I have visited several places outside Bountiful, including Vancouver (buildings too tall and too many people), Sundre, Dawson Creek, California, Colorado, Las Vegas (“playing around”). I like the quiet life in a small town. The isolation at Bountiful doesn't bother me. I love to come back to the peace of Bountiful. My future hope is to start a small business.”

When the BCAG counsel began his cross-examination, the questions became much more probing. Her responses were as follows:- “ I have four sister wives to live with. We all live in one house and we talk to each other. We meet each night to go over what happened during the day, about the children, about whether we need to make any changes in our routine, and we go out together on walks, to the park, ice skating and we play basketball. We dress conservatively – covered from neck to ankles. Wives make clothes, and wives know each other as well as they know their own brothers and sisters. We also have friends. We know every sister wife's birthday, (though not too many of the kids' birthdays). We arrange for a cake and gifts for every birthday – a sister wife's or a child's.

The families of sister wives come to visit sometimes, and the wedding anniversary of each sister wife is celebrated.

I had been married six months when a new sister wife came into the family. She was younger than me [sic] – at least two years younger. I found out about the new sister wife during a phone call from my husband. Yes - I had known her while she was growing up, and she came from the U.S. None of the sister wives attending the marriage. I don't know where it took place. The Prophet in the U.S. Performed the marriage; Warren Jeffs is my Prophet.

My husband's new wife was 15 years old. We had talked about a new wife, but age had never been discussed. My husband was in his late 30's or early 40's. I don't know what kind of visa the new sister wife used to get into Canada. She arrived from the U.S. with family members, but I don't know if they gave a letter of permission.”

The witness was then asked if the 15-year-old sister wife went to school, and she replied that the child entered Grade 9 at the Bountiful School.
Did anyone accompany her to school? Were there any concerns about her age?”
Not that I was aware of.”
Did nobody at Bountiful consider this tender age abnormal? Objectionable? Did anyone report it to the outside authorities? Did you have concerns?”
No. Age was not really an issue. She seemed a very responsible girl. I did not try to sway other people's opinions. Nor did I talk about birth control. As far as reporting the situation about the 15 year old, I don't know if anyone did. I would report harm to another. No-one ever came up to me and said 'I think something bad is happening.' It was God's will.”
“I’d think that if I went away to a foreign country and married a 15-year-old girl and brought her home, I’d expect the police to welcome me, and not a celebration.”
When was a baby born [to this youngster]?”
When she was 17 years old.”

[During these exchanges, you could have heard a pin drop in the courtroom.] The witness then declared that the child had no immediate family members at Bountiful.

In answer to further questioning, the witness told us “I learned the identity of my husband half an hour before the ceremony. No other sister wives attended. My husband phoned them afterwards to inform them. When a new wife is being considered, other sister wives do have the right to tell a husband not to go ahead with it. I agree with the change in policy [to 18 years of age at marriage]. I believe it is better than 15 – I guess.”

Do men or women leave the community to go on to further education in anything except subjects that would benefit the people of the FLDS? Such as midwifery, nursing, teaching, mechanics?”
Without compromising your anonymity, can you tell us if you are equal to your husband? Does he hold a position of status in the FLDS?”
I am not the equal of my husband. My husband does hold a position of status in the FLDS.”

I felt great shock when going into the real world. I was shocked by people doing things I didn't agree with. They're not respectful in the classroom. I don't agree that my upbringing has ill-prepared me for going into the outside world. I know how to say no!”

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