I have just finished reading the book Escape, written by Carolyn Jessop, who married Merril Jessop in polygamist Colorado City, and gave birth to eight children in the following fifteen years. So dangerous were her later pregnancies, that after the final birth, doctors performed a hysterectomy to save her life. She gives a harrowing picture of life in that polygamist society, and pulls no punches as she describes the impossible task of keeping sweet in her relations with her sister wives and her husband. The daily grind of back-breaking work, the jealousies and depression in the household, the husband who ignored her except for occasional, perfunctory, clothed sex, are all described in painful detail.
Not long after the rise of Warren Jeffs to the position of FLDS Prophet, when he began to ramble on about the Apocalypse and the End Times, and introduced draconian measures into the daily lives of all his followers, Carolyn realized that she would have to leave. She fled with her eight children in the middle of the night, and found friends and family members who were willing to help her make her way through the maze of social services in the outside world. Merril Jessop pursued her, but Carolyn was able to obtain a restraining order, and was eventually granted custody of her children.
A thoroughly good read about the way in which an intelligent woman was able to outwit the FLDS.
And today we learn of three more under-age girls transported to the United States in 2004, to be sealed in marriage for time and all eternity into the cult headed by so-called Prophet, Warren Jeffs.
Daphne Bramham, who had done outstanding work throughout the investigation into polygamy in B.C. and the United States, wrote today in the Vancouver Sun:
Three more underage girls — including the 15-year-old daughter of Bountiful’s bishop — were transported in 2004 into the United States to become the brides of older men loyal to fundamentalist Mormon prophet Warren Jeffs, The Vancouver Sun learned Monday.
Last week, The Sun reported how nine girls — some as young as 12 and 13 — were secretly moved across the international border in 2004 and 2005 by their fathers and brothers to become “celestial wives” in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).
The new information comes from Jeffs’[s] diaries, seized by a Texas law-enforcement officer in 2008 during a raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch and used in the convictions of six FLDS men on charges of child sexual abuse.
The voluminous diaries outline in detail how men such as James Oler, Bountiful’s bishop, were rewarded for handing over their daughters with underage brides in return.
“I called Jim Oler last night,” Jeffs writes in June 2004. “And [I] told him to bring his daughter ... that Jim Oler would receive a wife, that Brandon Blackmore [of Bountiful] should come and receive training and that Brandon’s daughter should come and be married.”
The FLDS prophet instructed the fathers to drive their two girls to Cedar City, Utah, stay there and await his call.
On Friday, June 25, Jeffs performed 18 weddings. The first started at 11:13 a.m., the last at 6 p.m.
At 1:23 p.m. Oler was a witness as his daughter was “sealed for time and all eternity” as the second wife of James Leroy Johnson.
Eleven minutes later, the 40-year-old Oler took a 15-year-old American girl as his plural wife — his second marriage in six months.
And, at 1:45 p.m., Blackmore witnessed his teenage daughter’s marriage to 67-year-old Merril Jessop.