Friday, January 7, 2011

Video Testimony - Richard Ream (ex-FLDS)

I took a short detour this morning from Courtroom 55 to the room next door, where Inderjit Singh Reyat was to be sentenced after being found guilty last September of perjury in the Air India case. He received a sentence of 9 years in prison, minus 17 months credit for time already served in custody. I make no comment.

In OUR courtroom this morning, we listened to testimony from a lapsed FLDS member

Richard Ream described a childhood in which, during school days, he “had to be careful about revealing FLDS teachings, because if the separation in the U.S. Between Church and State. I learned about sex through home, and was told that marriage was a sacred bond designated by God through the Prophet. We had no right to choose our wife, and I thought it was crazy that we had no input into the selection just because we were not allowed to put God aside in order to make our own choice. I was fourteen when I made the decision to choose my own wife, but I soon learned that marriage was reserved for the purest and holiest of men, and I was a rambunctious kid.

We were told that marriage could not be broken under any circumstances, and then Warren Jeffs came to town and started breaking up families and marriages, and moving people all over.

I handed over my paycheck every week to my Dad – I didn't keep anything. And we tithed to the church. People who have everything appreciate nothing – people who have nothing appreciate everything. Manual skills were considered more important for the End Times, so they didn't bother giving us a real education.

Today I drive a tractor-trailer. It was easy as a child to drive a car or a tractor. I worked 16-hour days, but I never reaped the proceeds of my work. I had a relationship with a girl at public school in my teens. My parents were upset worse than I had ever seen. Dad spoke to the Bishop about me; the Bishop said I need indoctrination, so I was sent to Salt Lake City. I lived for a year with an uncle, and made it two-thirds of the way through the school year, but I was expelled because of a relationship with a girl. At sixteen I was back home, got my driver's license, and was told by Dad that I was being sent to Canada, to Winston Blackmore's place. I found that Winston could communicate well with adolescents. He really appreciated the force of an attraction between a boy and a girl. It was possible to let Winston know that you liked a certain girl, and then be joined together in marriage by Winston. [So much for the chain of command through God, the Prophet and the Bishop!]

After my brother died, I tried really hard to become a good, upstanding member of the church – I really did. I became a 'model' person because I wanted a wife and kids, and I was honestly trying, but it never came about. My desire to be part of the church began to fade. I wanted to start a family. I don't think I made the wrong choice. At nineteen and a half I walked away. I felt I was in a dead end life.

Warren Jeffs had told me that I would never be assigned a wife. He told too many lies. I was a 19-year-old kid and I called him out, told him he was a liar and a wrecker of families. For the sake of my own life I had to go. Jeffs threw me out. I went through some heavy stress over the conflict in my mind between the principles I had been taught, and the life I wanted to live. I had been taught good principles and I was a little sad to leave all that. I don't know of any society that is one hundred percent righteous. I'm no longer with any organized church.

Life is just like a sandwich – the more you put in, the better it is. I think God has given me more than I deserve. Any time I come home from work and I got my son on one knee and my daughter on the other – don't matter how tired I am, I'll hold 'em till they fall asleep. I've learned to accept God's hand in my life. There's no way you'll ever see me trying to hold a family together with more than one wife.

The Lost Boys case was against Warren Jeffs, who told a church member who owed me money not to pay me for a lot of work I had done, because I was an apostate, and was being expelled. John Jessop was the youngest boy I knew to be expelled – he was thirteen. I don't know how they came up with the name The Lost Boys 'cos I'm very good with directions. Warren Jeffs got this word from God, or outer space, or from whatever planet he lives on, that he should not participate in the case, so we won by default. And I worked with lawyers to stop Warren Jeffs in his tracks.”


My Comments: I wrote down Ream's testimony as closely as I could, but you'll have to forgive my writer's “adjustments”. It was a real pleasure to hear the story of one young man who had escaped his church and made a life for himself, by deciding for himself what he wanted in life, and not being forced by others in authority over him to do as he was told, for fear of divine retribution or banishment from the group. Somehow, he had taught himself how to think, and that skill is the one most feared by cult leaders.

Throughout his testimony Ream displayed a calm, cool demeanour, a delightful sense of humour, a genuine sensitivity, and a deep love for his family.

For a cogent assessment of the proceedings so far, check out

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