28 Sep 2007

Ontario police open investigation into abuse claims

Toronto Globe and Mail, September 27, 2007

By Michael Valpy


Former students have complained of psychological and sexual harassment; police ask others to come forward


The Ontario Provincial Police yesterday began a formal criminal investigation into allegations of abuse of students at the now closed Grenville Christian College in Eastern Ontario.

The chief investigating officer, Detective Inspector Brian Haggith, also asked former students for access to the private Facebook Internet site where they have been discussing their experiences at the school for the past several weeks. Former student Tyler Holmes, the administrator of the Facebook group site, gave them access.

OPP spokeswoman Sergeant Kristine Rae said the police were appealing to anyone with knowledge of wrongdoing at the school - which closed in July - to contact them.

For the past several days, the OPP have been conducting what they called a "review" of allegations of physical, psychological and sexual abuse at the school, near Brockville on the St. Lawrence River.

Sgt. Rae said the police have now interviewed two witnesses and want "any former student alleging criminal conduct" to call them at 613-925-4221.

The police have named no suspects.

The allegations extend back to the late 1970s. Former students and staff are spread across Canada and the United States.

Meanwhile, Bishop George Bruce, Anglican bishop of the diocese in which the school is located, will conclude his investigation this week into allegations against two priests who were headmasters of the school - Rev. Charles Farnsworth and Rev. Gordon Mintz.

In interviews with The Globe and Mail, the two priests have denied any wrongdoing and have said that allegations of mistreatment of students at the school are without substance.

Bishop Bruce has interviewed more than 20 students and at least one former senior teacher.

After he completes his interviews he will present his findings to the two priests and ask for their response. He will then decide whether to bring priests and former students together in an attempt at reconciliation or refer the priests to a church court. Only half a dozen ecclesiastical courts have been convened in the last century and a half.

One former student has made a formal complaint about Bishop Bruce's predecessor, retired bishop Peter Mason, to the senior Anglican archbishop of Ontario.

Anglican authorities have said they had no jurisdiction over the school but do have jurisdiction over the priests who worked there.

After interviewing several former students, Bishop Bruce suggested to two of them that they might consider contacting police.

Grenville Christian College had an elite reputation among Ontario private schools, charging up to $35,000 annually and listing former lieutenant-governors, a senator and a Canadian diplomat among its patrons.

All but one or two members of the Grenville staff swore what were called "oblate vows" of obedience to the community's leaders.

Former students have told of being held down and beaten with wooden objects, sexually harassed and subjected to psychological humiliation.

The Community of Jesus and the Grenville school staff followed negation of the self as a path to unity with God. Students say they were regularly subjected to harsh discipline for being "haughty" and girls were called sluts, whores and "bitches in heat" because they tempted men.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
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Doctors told take young seriousl

BBC News, UK - September 27, 2007


Doctors must do more to respect the wishes and views of young patients, the General Medical Council has warned.

Children should be involved directly in discussions about their care and given the same rights to confidentiality as adults, new guidance recommends.

It comes after a consultation found children do not always feel doctors take them seriously.

However, the guidelines say doctors have a duty to inform others if there is any indication of serious harm.

This is the first time the GMC has specifically laid out the roles and responsibilities of doctors when treating those under the age of 18 years - accounting for over a fifth of the UK population.

The guide reinforces the position that under 16s should have confidential access to sexual health and contraception services.

But that doctors should share information with authorities like the police or social services if a child is being abused, harmed or threatened into having sex, or under the age of 13, the GMC said.


The recommendations also state that children and young people should be directly involved in discussions about have their care and their views taken seriously.

Cultural or religious beliefs or values should be taken into account when assessing what is in the child's best interests.

Also it should also be made clear to children and young people that they can access healthcare services without their parents present if that is what they want.

And children should be given appropriate information about their condition and treatment.

Vulnerable group

The recommendations were put together after a three-month consultation with 350 children and young people and 600 doctors, parents and organisations.

Professor Sir Graeme Catto, GMC president, said: "This document recognises that children are individuals with rights that should be respected."

Dr Patricia Hamilton, president, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said all doctors, whatever their speciality, have responsibility for children and young people at some stage in their professional lives.

"This is an important step forward in ensuring the medical profession recognises that children are not just 'little adults' and that their specific needs should be met accordingly."

Luziane Tchiegue-Nouta, Acting Lewisham Young Mayor, aged 16, said: "Young people need to know that they can see their doctor in confidence.

"It is important that they are treated as patients in their own right."

Dr Carole Easton, chief executive of CLIC Sargent, the children's cancer charity, said anything that prompts medical professionals to discuss treatment options directly with young people should be encouraged.

"There is some fantastic practice in pockets of the country but it is vital that all sick children are given the opportunity to get involved in decisions about their treatment, and that their wishes are taken into account and treated with respect."


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7015833.stm

27 Sep 2007

Polygamy remains at large in Utah

Warren Jeffs' sect and many others are expected to continue practicing plural marriage, and the state sees little it can do.

By Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 27, 2007


ST. GEORGE, UTAH -- In 1953, the state of Arizona broke up a 385-person polygamous enclave that straddled its border with Utah, arresting all the men and placing the children with foster families.

A judge eventually ruled the action illegal, and members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints returned to their homes. Now, 54 years later, the community numbers about 10,000.

The conviction this week of church leader Warren Jeffs as an accomplice to rape was the most significant blow to the insular sect in decades. In November, Jeffs could be sentenced to life in prison.

But several observers believe that even without the physical presence of the man it believes is a prophet, the FLDS could be as resistant to pressure to conform to state laws as it was in the 1950s. And that, in Utah, plural marriage is not going away.

"Utah is a sanctuary for polygamists," said Jay Beswick, who spent years as a children's rights advocate investigating the FLDS. "I don't recall ever seeing Utah as having the willpower to go after polygamy. It's just beyond their capacity."

Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff has targeted polygamous groups like the FLDS, but says that his office will not prosecute people solely for multiple marriages. With an estimated 37,000 residents living polygamous lifestyles, Shurtleff said in an interview, that would be impossible.

"Anytime a prosecutor is considering prosecuting a series of crimes, you have to consider your resources," Shurtleff said. "We've got 4,000 jail beds in the state. They'd overwhelm our system."

Instead, Shurtleff has settled for trying to stop underage marriages and abuse in polygamous communities. "It's not something I'm happy with," he said of the scaled-back approach.

Jeffs' conviction involved an underage marriage -- not a polygamous one. On Tuesday, the jury convicted Jeffs of being an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry Allen Steed, her 19-year-old cousin. The victim, now 21, testified that Steed forced her to have sex. On Wednesday, local prosecutors filed a rape charge against Steed and issued a warrant for his arrest.

The trial put a spotlight on the marriage practices in the sect run by Jeffs, where men commonly have multiple wives and dozens of children. Jeffs dictated pairings and performed marriage ceremonies that the state does not recognize as legal.

Utah's polygamy is a partial legacy of the Mormon Church, which still practiced multiple marriages when it fled to the state in the 1840s from Illinois. But in 1890, the church ended polygamy as part of its push to gain statehood. The FLDS believes polygamy is core to its beliefs and that the Mormon Church wrongly gave in to public pressure.

The FLDS has virtually operated its own government on the Utah-Arizona border, where two communities meet at the state line and the sect has run the schools, city halls and police departments.

Speaking to church members in 2002, when the two states began to crack down on underage marriages, Sam Barlow, then marshal of FLDS-controlled Colorado City, Ariz.,told believers that those efforts conflicted with 1st Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion.

"We have challenged them on whether or not in a country where the Congress can make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise, whether a legislature can predetermine at what age a person can make a religious covenant," Barlow said in a recording played last week at Jeffs' trial.

Attorney Rodney Parker defended some FLDS men when they were under investigation by grand juries in Utah for taking part in underage marriages. "The men would say, 'If I refuse to recognize the state's authority to regulate marriage, they will put me in prison,' " Parker said. " 'But if I choose to capitulate and become an apostate, I would be damned. I will choose to go to prison.' "

Parker said that the state had a legitimate interest in protecting children, and that the 1st Amendment did not allow people to violate the law for religious purposes. But, he added, the FLDS believes that when the Mormon Church banned polygamy, it committed a mortal sin.

"It's a real problem, and it may be an insoluble one," Parker said of the conflict between FLDS beliefs and the law. If the state persists, "they will just drive the community and the practice underground and make it invisible."

Those directing the campaign against the FLDS hope to change the group. Authorities have taken over Colorado City's school district, decertified FLDS police and seized the trust in which the church held all community assets.

Greg Hoole, a Salt Lake City attorney handling several lawsuits against the church on behalf of youths who were exiled from the community or forced into underage marriages, said Jeffs had predicted the end of the world three or four times. When the apocalypse did not come, he shifted the timeline. "If he can go back on a doomsday prophecy," Hoole said, "he can retract a bit on underage marriages."

Though public attention has focused on Jeffs' group, there are several other polygamist organizations in Utah.





The Kingston group, in the Salt Lake City area, owns several large businesses and a mine, and is relatively wealthy. The Allred group, also in northern Utah, frowns on child marriage. Smaller enclaves dot the deserts and mountains.

The persistence of polygamist groups is an embarrassment to many in Utah, especially the 70% who are Mormon. As the religion spreads and becomes more mainstream, the sects that practice multiple marriage are an increasing handicap, said Richard Cowan, a professor of church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

"It's more of a problem than say 50 or 75 years ago, when the Latter-day Saints were more of a regional group," Cowan said.

Critics contend that polygamous families are also a drag on social services, with higher rates of child poverty. Some wives declare that they are unmarried to secure welfare benefits for their children.

Daniel S. Medwed, a law professor at the University of Utah, said that a lack of prosecutorial resources was not the only reason authorities were reluctant to go after polygamists.

"There's also a strong strain of libertarianism that pervades Utah and the Mountain West," Medwed said. "The idea of autonomy, freedom -- religious and sexual -- and minimal governmental interference."

Former state Sen. Ron Allen, who wrote a bill in 2002 to stiffen penalties for forcing girls into multiple marriages, said he was heartened by steps state authorities had taken.

He said "word on the street" was that other polygamist groups had vowed to stop underage marriage amid the crackdown on the FLDS.

"They're making tremendous progress," Allen said of state authorities. But, he added, "I don't think you can do anything about consenting adults. You're just going to have to focus on specific criminal behavior."

"This fundamentally started 150 years ago," he said. "It's going to take a few years to straighten it out."



http://www.latimes.com/news/
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Warren Jeffs Still Dominant Force Even After Conviction

ABC News, USA

Sep. 27, 2007

Scott Michels


Though Warren Jeffs is facing up to life in prison, the fundamentalist Mormon leader will continue to control the lives of thousands of his followers, people familiar with the polygamist sect say.

Jeffs was convicted Tuesday of being an accessory to rape for coercing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin. The verdict set off speculation over what will happen to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints if he is given a lengthy prison term.

But, former members say Jeffs will probably still be revered as the prophet, the leader of the sect who is regarded as God’s voice on Earth. They said they expect Jeffs, for the time being, to continue to be a dominant force in the lives of the estimated 10,000 sect members who live along the border of Utah and Arizona.

“For those who believe, he is a prophet anointed by God,” said Dan Fischer, a former member who started a network to care for boys who were kicked out of the sect so older men could have multiple brides. “There is nothing that man can do to change that.”

Fischer added, “Should he decide that someone should be ousted [from the sect], he can still pull that off from prison, just like a mafia boss can run the mob from jail.”

The polygamist sect broke off from the mainstream Mormon Church 72 years ago; under its rules, the prophet can only be replaced when he dies, said Brenda Jensen, another former member. It’s still possible, she said, that Jeffs could anoint a successor or that a splinter group could form.

In Jeffs’ absence, it is thought that other senior members of the notoriously insular sect have taken day-to-day control of running the group. Among those members are Wendell Nielsen, believed to be Jeffs’ closest confidant; Lyle Jeffs, Warren’s brother; and William Jessop.

Several people told ABC News that some families have started putting Nielsen’s picture up on their wall, next to photos of Jeffs, and that some have started listening to tape recordings of Nielsen’s sermons.

It was not clear whether Jeffs’ confidants would take the sect in a new direction, though Benjamin Bistline, a former member and author of a history of the group, said he thought Nielsen may not be as harsh as Jeffs.

“I don’t think he will be taking people’s wives away from them,” he said.

As prophet, Jeffs paired the community’s girls and women with the men he said God told him in revelations were meant to be married. Sect teachings emphasize that young girls and women are to be obedient to their husbands and serve them “mind, body and soul” to achieve salvation in the afterlife.

The prophet was God to us,” Jeffs’ accuser testified during the trial. “He was God on Earth and his counselors were pretty much the same, so they had jurisdiction over us.”

Those who disobeyed Jeffs risked excommunication from the sect and banishment from their homes. Their families often were told not to have any contact with them.

Bistline, however, said Jeffs had been losing power even before his arrest.

The sect once controlled a trust that held virtually all of the land and buildings in the sect’s communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. The trust gave Jeffs power over sect members, Bistline said, placing them in risk of losing their homes if they did not follow his commands.

A court gave control of the United Effort Plan Trust to a fiduciary, Bruce Wisan, in 2005.

“That’s what took the power away from him,” said Bistline. “Since then, he can’t use that extortion over the people anymore. That’s when people started leaving.”

Wisan said many group members were still wary of taking title to their homes for fear of being excommunicated.

Wisan and former group members said that they thought the sect’s leadership would be more cautious about marrying off underage girls and that Jeffs’ conviction could inspire some people to leave the group.

None of the former members, however, who spoke with ABC News, expected rapid change and none expected the group to stop practicing polygamy.

“He’ll always be in charge,” Shannon Price said of Jeffs. “Polygamy will always be part of the culture in one way or another.”


http://www.religionnewsblog.com/19492/warren-jeffs-81

Ex-Husband Charged With Rape After Guilty Verdict In Polygamist Leader’s Trial

AP, via CBS News, USA

Sep. 26, 2007



(AP) Prosecutors filed a rape charge Wednesday against the ex-husband whose marriage was at the center of polygamous-sect leader Warren’s Jeff’s trial.

The charge came a day after Jeffs was convicted of rape by accomplice.

Allen Glade Steed was 19 and his bride _ also his first cousin _ was 14 when they were married in 2001. Steed is accused of having sex with the girl against her will after the arranged marriage.

Steed testified at Jeffs’ trial that he did not force himself on the girl and said she initiated their first sexual encounter.

The rape charge was based on a complaint filed by a sheriff’s investigator, who said the trial established that the pair had sex and that the woman, now 21, convinced jurors it was without her consent. The investigator, Jake Schultz, said Steed lives out of state most of the time.

Steed’s defense lawyer, Jim Bradshaw, didn’t immediately return a message Wednesday from The Associated Press.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below.

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) _ Jurors rejected a defense attorney’s argument that the prosecution of a polygamous sect leader was religious persecution, convicting him as an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old follower to marry her 19-year-old cousin.

The victim in the case didn’t accept it either, telling reporters the case was about child abuse.

“This trial has not been about religion or a vendetta. It was simply about child abuse and preventing abuse,” the woman, now 21, said in prepared remarks after the verdict.

Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, could get life in prison after a trial that threw a spotlight on an insular community along the Arizona-Utah line where followers practice polygamy and revere him as a prophet with dominion over their salvation.

Jeffs stood with a stoic look on his face as the verdict was read.

Prosecutors said Jeffs, who performed the ceremony, forced the girl into marriage and sex despite her objections. Jurors said they agreed that Jeffs rejected the girl’s pleas and later refused to release her from the marriage when she complained about relations with her husband.

“He was pretty much her only ticket out of the relationship,” said juror Jerry Munk, 36.

Defense attorney Wally Bugden, who had told jurors that Jeffs was a victim of religious persecution, declined to comment.

“Religion was definitely involved, but I don’t think it was about that,” said juror Heather Newkirk, 32.

The jury deliberated for about 16 hours over three days. On Tuesday morning, the judge replaced a juror with an alternate for undisclosed reasons.

Jeffs’ attorneys haven’t said if they plan to appeal. His sentencing is set for Nov. 20, and he faces five years to life in prison for each of the two counts of rape by accomplice.

At the trial, widely different versions of the relationship _ and Jeffs’ influence _ were presented by the woman and her former husband, Allen Steed, 26.

At their wedding in 2001 at a Nevada motel, the woman said, she cried in despair when pressed by Jeffs to say “I do” and had to be coaxed to kiss her new husband. The woman testified that FLDS girls receive no information about their bodies or reproduction. She said she didn’t even know sex was the means by which women conceived.

The woman said the couple were married for at least a month before they had intercourse, and that her husband told her it was “time for you to be a wife and do your duty.”

“My entire body was shaking. I was so scared,” she testified. “He just laid me on the bed and had sex.”

Afterward, she slipped into the bathroom, where she downed two bottles of over-the-counter pain reliever and curled up on the floor, she said. “The only thing I wanted to do was die,” she said.

The Associated Press generally dos not name those who allege sexual abuse.

Steed testified that his teenage bride initiated their first sexual encounter, approaching him after he fell asleep in his clothes after a 12-hour day at work.

Under Utah law, a 14-year-old can consent to sex in some circumstances. But sex is not considered consensual if a person under 18 is enticed by someone at least three years older.

For reasons prosecutors have never explained, Steed has not been charged with a crime.

The couple was finally granted an FLDS divorce, or a release, as it is called, in 2004 when the teen bride became pregnant with another man’s child. She has since left the faith.

Members of the FLDS practice polygamy in marriages arranged by the church prophet. Polygamy was not on trial here _ the couple was monogamous _ but the case focused attention on its continued practice.

Brought to Utah by members of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, polygamy was abandoned by mainstream Mormons as condition of statehood in 1890. The Mormon church now excommunicates members who engage in the practice. It disavows any connection with the estimated 30,000 self-described Mormon fundamentalists who continue to believe plural marriage brings exaltation in heaven.


Jeffs succeeded his father in 2002 as president of the FLDS, who since the 1920s have lived in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.

In Arizona, Jeffs is charged with eight felonies for being an accomplice to incest and sexual misconduct with minors in connection with marriages involving two underage girls.

In addition, Jeffs is under federal indictment in Utah on charges of fleeing to avoid prosecution. He was arrested last year during a traffic stop near Las Vegas after about 18 months on the run.

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/19485/allen-steed

About time, ex-Bountiful member says about Warren Jeffs conviction

Vancouver Sun, Canada

Sep. 26, 2007

Kelly Sinoski

www.canada.com

Ex-members of the polygamist community of Bountiful renewed calls Tuesday for B.C. to prosecute polygamists on this side of the border after a U.S. jury found prophet Warren Jeffs guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old by assigning her to marry her cousin.

Debbie Palmer, who grew up in Bountiful, near Creston, and was assigned to marry 57-year-old Ray Blackmore when she was 15, said she was happy to hear of the guilty verdict Tuesday.

She said she hoped it will push B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal to “look harder at the prosecution of the some of the elders in Bountiful.”

“It’s about time one of these polygamist cult leaders that has caused as much damage and [committed] horrific crimes against women, children and men is held accountable,” Palmer said.

“It’ll help make more people in the community realize that if they take that step to talk about the abuse in the community the law will respond,” she said. “Up until now it has been a hopeless job.”

Jeffs, 51, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for counselling Elissa Wall to marry her first cousin Allen Steed against her will. Jeffs performed the wedding ceremony and told them to “go forth and multiply.”

Most North American polygamists follow Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s revelation that only men with three or more wives can reach the highest realm of heaven. They believe in assigned marriages, in which the prophet or church elders determine which man a woman will marry.

Palmer was assigned to two other men after marrying Ray Blackmore, and bore seven children before she managed to escape the community 24 years ago with all of her children.

Others haven’t been as lucky, she said, and there should be laws to prevent sexual abuse of women, girls and young men in the community.

She said while “there will be some freedom gained” from Tuesday’s ruling, it could also lead to more tension in the compound.

Bountiful is home to about 700 fundamentalist Mormons who practise a polygamist lifestyle. The community is divided, with hundreds of members supporting Jeffs and others Bountiful bishop Winston Blackmore.

Merrill Palmer, principal of Bountiful elementary-secondary school, which is controlled by Jeffs, did not return phone calls Tuesday.

The testimony of prosecution witness Jane Blackmore, a midwife who was Winston Blackmore’s first wife, was believed to have helped convince the U.S. jury to convict Jeffs.

Jane Blackmore said Tuesday she feels positive about the verdict, but said there is still a lot of work to be done if any changes are to be made. She couldn’t predict what it would mean for Bountiful at this stage.

“I feel like this is just the beginning and I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference overnight,” she said. “It’s going to be an ongoing process. How it plays out . . . it will take a lot of time.”

Oppal said Jeffs’s conviction for being an accomplice to rape is “very unusual” but sends a clear message that they believe he committed a crime.

Oppal said his office may look at similar charges in Bountiful, but is still investigating whether they can be laid.

Polygamy in Canada is illegal — it was banned in Canada’s first Criminal Code in 1892 — but prosecutions are rare.

Oppal earlier this month appointed lawyer Leonard Doust to take a “more aggressive approach” in reviewing allegations of misconduct in the Bountiful community.

Doust was appointed to review a decision by special prosecutor Richard Peck, who recommended no charges be laid against Bountiful members because there was not a substantial likelihood of conviction. Doust’s report is expected shortly.

“It’s always been my view that polygamy can be harmful to women and children, and in this case the jury obviously believed the prosecution witnesses and came to the proper conclusion,” Oppal said.

Audrey Vance, co-chairwoman of Altering Destiny Through Education in Creston, said she was delighted with the verdict. She maintains that while Jeffs was found guilty of being an accomplice, some Bountiful elders have gone beyond assigning marriages and have married young girls themselves.

Winston Blackmore has publicly admitted that several of his more than 20 wives were only 16 and at least one was 15 when they married.

Since 1990, his family has grown to include more than 105 children.

“I want something done with Bountiful,” Vance said. “I don’t think this can continue. These are young girls who are told they’ll go to hell if they don’t get married and start having children.”


http://www.religionnewsblog.com/19480/warren-jeffs-78

Jurors: Girl’s age was crucial to decision in Warren Jeffs trial

Deseret Morning News, USA

Sep. 26, 2007

Nancy Perkins



ST. GEORGE — Jurors in the Warren Jeffs case said Tuesday they were convinced of the polygamist sect leader’s guilt on charges of rape as an accomplice because of two “simple facts.”

“She was 14. She didn’t have to say anything for rape to occur. Warren Jeffs was her only ticket to getting out or not getting married,” said juror Gerald Munk, 36, a maintenance worker for St. George.

The guilty verdict could send Jeffs, 51, to prison for life. Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 20 in 5th District Court.

Jeffs is the president and prophet of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, whose tenets include polygamy and a belief in arranged marriages through revelation by God to the FLDS prophet.


But religion did not play a part in the jury’s decision, jurors said during a debriefing with reporters following the verdict. Defense attorney Wally Bugden argued during his closing statement that Utah had made a political decision to charge Jeffs with rape, when it could have filed charges of performing an illegal, underage marriage.

“Religion was definitely involved, but I don’t think it (the case) was about that,” said Heather Newkirk, a 32-year-old mom and massage therapist.

The issue before the jury, Newkirk said, was the age of the victim and the jury’s strict interpretation of the law.

“Rape can be very subtle” when the victim is 14 years old, she said.

Under Utah law, a 14-year-old can consent to sex in some circumstances. But sex is not considered consensual if a person younger than 18 is enticed by someone at least three years older.

Elissa Wall, now 21 and married to a different man, testified she objected to an arranged marriage that placed her with Allen Steed, her 19-year-old cousin. Wall testified that no one in her family, including her mother and stepfather, Fred Jessop, who was second counselor in the FLDS Church presidency, would listen to her pleas to avoid the marriage.

Several weeks after the wedding, which Jeffs conducted in a Nevada motel, Wall testified that Steed forced her to have sex, leaving her feeling “dirty and used.” Wall said Jeffs, who was first counselor in the FLDS Church at the time, ignored her complaints that Steed was touching her in ways she didn’t like, admonishing her to repent and give herself “mind, body and soul” to her husband.

Steed testified tearfully that he loved his wife, tried hard to be a good husband, and had sex with Wall that was consensual. Jeffs dissolved the marriage after Steed discovered Wall was having an affair. Steed has not been charged with a crime. He testified that police never interviewed him before charging Jeffs.

Jurors said they did not fully believe Steed’s testimony, although they did wonder why he was not charged with rape if Jeffs was being tried as an accomplice to the rape.

“We talked about it, whether there was an actual rape,” said juror Ben Coulter, 26, who works in retail sales. “But it was her age. She was 14.”

Jeffs, he said, was “the only one who could have released her (Elissa Wall) from the marriage.”

Jury foreman David Finch said the jury thought Steed “contradicted himself several times on the stand” when it came to the timeline of events.

The first rape occurred between April 23, 2001, when Steed and Wall were married, and May 12, 2001, when the couple took a trip to Canada. The second count occurred sometime between May 13, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2003.

Juror Diedre Shaw, 32, a housewife and mother of four, said the group talked about whether there could be an accomplice to rape if there wasn’t a rape. Other adults in Wall’s life also did nothing to stop the marriage. Wall testified she never told anyone she was being raped.

“We talked about Allen Steed, her mother, her sisters and the fact that she (Elissa Wall) said she ’sugared up’ to Allen eventually,” Shaw said. “But they weren’t on trial.”

Steed must have enticed Wall into sex, Shaw said, because Wall testified she consented to sex at times in order to get money or see family.

Three jurors said they were “inclined toward innocent on at least one of the counts” when they began deliberating Friday. On Monday afternoon, the jury informed Judge James Shumate they were deadlocked on one count, which prompted the judge to ask them to continue their discussions.

The jury was released for the night at 8 p.m. on Monday after telling the judge they were close to a verdict on both counts.

By Tuesday morning, a female juror was excused for an undisclosed reason. That dismissed juror, Andrea Powers Harold, told KSL-TV that a fierce argument broke out between her and another juror over what she called “misinterpreted words.” An alternate juror, Rachel Karimi, 28, a mother with young children, was seated on the jury. Shumate instructed them that they were a “new panel.” Less than three hours later, the jury returned with a guilty verdict.


http://www.religionnewsblog.com/19479/warren-jeffs-77

26 Sep 2007

Anglican bishop reviewing allegations of cult practices and abuse at Grenville Christian College

No GCC complaints yet OPP Police reviewing online allegations

September 25, 2007 edition of the Brockville Recorder & Times

By KIM LUNMAN Staff Writer


An Anglican bishop reviewing allegations of cult practices and abuse at Grenville Christian College has been advising former students who believe they were the victims of criminal acts to file formal complaints with police, said a senior official for the diocese.

It's the latest twist in the unfolding drama involving the now-defunct Christian college mired in scandal since it suddenly shut its doors in August.

"On a couple of occasions when Bishop (George) Bruce heard their stories, he said that if they felt their experience violated the criminal code of Canada, he suggested they go to the OPP," said Wayne Varley, diocesan executive officer with the Anglican Diocese of Ontario.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Provincial Police confirmed they are reviewing allegations against the school made in the media and on Internet chatrooms.

"We're reviewing what has been reported on in the media," said OPP spokesman Sgt. Kristine Rae. However, she said there is no formal police investigation to date because there have been no official complaints filed with the authorities.

Varley would not say how many students and teachers Bishop Bruce has met with during his inquiry or reveal the nature of their allegations.

However, he emphasized in a telephone interview from the diocese's Kingston offices the bishop is not influencing any of the former students to file criminal complaints to the police.

"He left it totally up to the students," Varley said, noting the bishop's inquiry is focused on canon law.

"We continue to honour the process of inquiry."

Bishop Bruce has been receiving written and oral complaints from former students and teachers over the past two weeks alleging cult practices, physical, and psychological abuse.

The inquiry should be completed on Oct.1.

It has been reported that the complaints revolve around two Anglican priests connected with the school but Varley has refused to identify them or release specific details about the allegations against the clergy.

Former students at the school have alleged in the media bizarre disciplinary practices at the school, including physical and psychological abuse. Some have claimed there were so-called "light sessions" in which staff members hauled them out of bed at night to shine bright lights in their eyes and call them sinners.

The church is following the procedure laid out under canon 35 that covers complaints and discipline. Under canon 35, Bruce will meet with the complainants and then must inform anyone against whom those complaints have been lodged of the allegations and allow them a response. If there is a finding of misconduct, penalties range from a reprimand to suspension to removal from office.

School officials blamed its closure last month on dwindling enrollment, saying it was so cash-strapped that it could not have remained open for another year.



http://newsfeed.recorder.ca/cgi-bin/LiveIQue.acgi$rec=23819

25 Sep 2007

Polygamist leader convicted of sex charges in arranged marriage

Baltimore Sun - September 25, 2007

By Jennifer Dobner | The Associated Press


ST. GEORGE, Utah - The leader of a polygamous Mormon splinter group was convicted today of being an accomplice to rape for performing a wedding between a 19-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl.

Warren Jeffs, 51, could get life in prison after a trial that threw a spotlight on a renegade community along the Arizona-Utah line where as many as 10,000 of Jeffs' followers practice plural marriage and revere him as a mighty prophet with dominion over their salvation.

Prosecutors said Jeffs forced the girl into marriage and sex against her will.


The jury deliberated about 16 hours over three days. This morning, the judge replaced a juror with an alternate for undisclosed reasons.

While polygamy itself was not on trial -- the couple were monogamous -- the case focused attention on the practice of polygamy in Utah, where it has generally been tolerated in the half-century since a government raid in 1953 proved a public relations disaster, with children photographed being torn from their mothers' arms.

Jeffs succeeded his father in 2002 as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Former members say he rules with an iron fist, demanding perfect obedience from followers and exercising the right to arrange marriages as well as break them up and assign new spouses.

At the trial, widely different versions of the relationship -- and Jeffs' influence -- were presented by the woman, now 21, and her former husband, Allen Steed, 26.

At their wedding in 2001 at a Nevada motel, the woman said, she cried in despair when pressed by Jeffs to say "I do" and had to be coaxed to kiss her new husband. The woman testified that FLDS girls receive no information about their bodies or reproduction. She said she didn't even know sex was the means by which women had babies.

The woman said the couple were married for at least a month before they had intercourse, her husband telling her it was "time for you to be a wife and do your duty."

"My entire body was shaking. I was so scared," she testified. "He just laid me on the bed and had sex."

Afterward, she slipped into the bathroom, where she downed two bottles of over-the-counter pain reliever and curled up on the floor, she said. "The only thing I wanted to do was die," she said.

But Steed testified that his teenage bride initiated their first sexual encounter, approaching him after he fell asleep in his clothes after a 12-hour day at work.

Under Utah law, a 14-year-old can consent to sex in some circumstances. But sex is not considered consensual if a person under 18 is enticed by someone at least three years older.

For reasons prosecutors have never explained, Steed has not been charged with a crime.

The mainstream Mormon Church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, renounced polygamy more than a century ago, excommunicates members who engage in the practice, and disavows any connection to the FLDS church.

Jeffs is also charged in Arizona with being an accomplice to both incest and sexual misconduct with a minor for arranging marriages between two underage girls and relatives of theirs. In addition, Jeffs is under federal indictment in Utah on charges of fleeing to avoid prosecution.

The charismatic Jeffs was captured in a traffic stop last year just outside Las Vegas after about 18 months on the run. At the time, he was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list, alongside such figures as Osama bin Laden.

Jeffs was in a red Cadillac Escalade in which investigators found more than $57,000, cell phones, prepaid credit cards, wigs and sunglasses.

Since at least the 1920s, members of the FLDS have lived in the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, where the women wear long prairie dresses and have long braided hair, and the men dress modestly too, often in buttoned-up shirts.

All homes and other property were kept in a trust controlled by Jeffs and other church leaders until a judge in 2005 put an accountant in charge because of allegations of mismanagement.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/
news/nation/bal-jeffs0925,0,301115.
story?track=rss

24 Sep 2007

Polygamy and Forced Sex in the Name of God

The view of polygamy as just another lifestyle choice has been countered by the growing evidence of communities rife with abuse.


By Ellen Goodman, Washington Post Writers Group.

September 24, 2007

BOSTON -- I'm glad I didn't fall for the latest Internet hoax. MarryOurDaughter.com? Hello? bridal price on the head of their 15-year-old Ashley ($37,500) or 16-year-old Kristin ($49,995)?

The hoax proved to be the brainchild of John Ordover, a Brooklyn man practicing his viral marketing skills. It was Ordover who hyped this site as an "introduction service assisting those following the biblical tradition of arranging marriages for their daughters."

But before you deep-six your most paranoid fantasy about the arranged marriages of young girls, let us turn to reality. In a courtroom in St. George, Utah, there is a defendant named Warren Jeffs who surely regards himself as a celestial matchmaker.

Jeffs is the autocrat and reigning prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), a polygamous community of about 10,000 that regards itself as the one true Mormon faith. It survives much to the embarrassment of mainstream Mormons, who gave up polygamy in 1890, and much to the horror of the state.

Jeffs is either deeply creepy or downright evil depending on how you label religious leaders who consider themselves the voice of God and marry multiple women, including 30 of their late father's youngest widows. He is infamous, among other things, for kicking hundreds of teenage boys out of his community and matching hundreds of their sisters into plural marriages. For those hooked on "Big Love," Jeffs makes Alby Grant look appealing.

But the man is not on trial for being a polygamist, let alone a creep. As the judge and prosecutor told the jury, this case is not about polygamy. Jeffs is being tried as an accessory to rape. He's charged with intentionally aiding the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl by her husband.

To hear the alleged victim, known only as Jane Doe, describe her marriage is to be as deeply saddened as the jury was. After resisting Jeffs' order to marry her 19-year-old first cousin, she found herself at the altar, head hanging, forcing out the words, "OK, I do." After refusing sex, she went back to Jeffs for counsel and was told to "repent," to "do your duty," and be "obedient." And so the girl who didn't know what sex was or where children came from says she was forced to submit to her husband.

Did this teenager make her own choice? We forget how the rules governing consent have changed. Conflicting state laws now navigate between a girl's sexual maturity and her vulnerability. In many states, including Utah, a girl can marry with her parents' permission at a younger age than she can have sex.

But this case raises a different question about consent. How much power did the religious leader wield over the 14-year-old? If you refused to marry the chosen husband, Doe testified, you would "lose your chance at salvation." How could she refuse to obey the husband who was "my ticket into heaven"?

No, polygamy is not on trial. But its history is interwoven with questions of consent. Opponents to plural marriage in the 19th century included women's rights advocates who equated polygamy with slavery. No mature woman, they believed, would voluntarily enslave herself.

In the late 20th century, the idea arose that consenting adults could make their own sexual arrangements from serial monogamy to, well, polygamy. Indeed, at this trial, FLDS women described themselves as "empowered." But the view of polygamy as just another lifestyle choice has been countered by the growing evidence of communities rife with abuse.

Doe's forced marriage falls easily into the moral category of child abuse. So I sympathize with the desire to get Warren Jeffs. Get Al Capone for tax evasion. Get O.J. for chasing down his memorabilia. But I'm troubled by the charge that Jeffs is an accessory to felony rape. University of Utah law professor Daniel Medwed calls it "an ill-fitting suit draped over this case." I'm afraid he's right.

The argument is that Jeffs told Doe to submit or be damned. It will be hard enough to prove that he was explicit in encouraging rape by her husband. For that matter, how can you convict a man as an accessory to rape when the alleged rapist himself -- the husband -- hasn't been charged? On the stand, he denied forcing her.

This case highlights what it's like to be a girl imprisoned in the FLDS world. Have no tolerance for a community, even a religious one, that so estranges its young from shared values, including liberty.

But this charge doesn't fit Warren Jeffs' moral trespasses. It's too much. And way, way, too little.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/63071/

23 Sep 2007

Arizona, feds pursuing cases against Jeffs

Deseret Morning News - September 23, 2007

Ben Winslow


ST. GEORGE — Regardless of whether he is found guilty or innocent of rape as an accomplice, Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' legal troubles are not over.

The polygamous sect leader is still facing criminal charges in Arizona, and a federal grand jury in Utah has indicted him on a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, stemming from his time on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

"We're ready and willing to get going on it," said Gary Engels, an investigator for the Mohave County Attorney's Office. "We've waited quite a while."

On Monday, the jury in Jeffs' trial here in St. George will return to the 5th District Courthouse to resume deliberations. Jeffs is accused of facilitating a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. If convicted of the first-degree felony charges, Jeffs faces up to life in prison.

On Friday, attorneys for "Jane Doe," as she has been known, made her name public, along with a photograph of her at age 14. Elissa Wall has been the prosecution's star witness in the case against Jeffs. She may also be a witness in one of the Arizona cases against Jeffs, although her attorney would not comment on that specifically.

"Elissa's committed to making sure that Mr. Jeffs is held accountable for his actions and that these abuses come to a stop," said Greg Hoole, Wall's attorney.

It is unclear where Jeffs will go next.

"The issue is whether or not the federal authorities will try him next or he will go to Mohave County. That question has not yet been decided," Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News. "I am anticipating that he will be coming to Arizona next and starting to prepare for trial here."

In Arizona, Jeffs is facing charges of sexual conduct with a minor, conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, sexual conduct with a minor as an accomplice, and incest as an accomplice. The indictments accuse Jeffs of performing more child-bride marriages.

At least one of Mohave County's cases against Jeffs has been on shaky ground since one alleged child bride refused to testify against her former husband. It led to the dismissal of criminal charges against him. However, Engels said he is confident in the investigations.

"Our cases are a little different," he said, declining to elaborate.

In Arizona, Jeffs could make bail but is not expected to get out of jail anytime soon.

"We do have a detainer based on our federal indictment," said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for Utah.

Jeffs, 51, is facing a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. In August 2006, Jeffs was arrested outside Las Vegas after a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper could not read a temporary tag on a 2007 Cadillac Escalade. The FLDS leader was sitting in the back seat.

Also inside the car, FBI agents seized more than $58,000 in cash, pre-paid cell phones, pre-paid credit cards, papers, wigs, GPS devices and other items.

That evidence will factor heavily in the federal government's case against Jeffs. If convicted on that charge, he faces up to five years in federal prison.

"We're working on the evidence that we have," Rydalch said.

Defense attorneys successfully argued to have some of the evidence returned on the grounds it is protected by Jeffs' First Amendment right to freedom of religion and that some of the documents constitute "clergy-communicant privilege." The U.S. Attorney's Office recently returned many items seized to Jeffs' attorneys.

About 1,500 pages of documents were given to lawyers for the court-controlled United Effort Plan Trust, the financial arm of the FLDS Church. The attorneys have been pursuing assets since the $110 million financial empire was taken over by the courts in 2005, amid allegations that Jeffs and other top FLDS leaders had been fleecing it.

Meanwhile, more criminal cases could be stacking up against the FLDS leader.

The Utah Attorney General's Office has been investigating Jeffs and the FLDS Church for financial crimes related to the UEP Trust. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has told the Deseret Morning News he would like to see the evidence seized by the FBI as part of an organized crime probe.

http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695212453,00.html

Jeffs verdict irrelevant to followers, polygamist community

The Spectrum - Utah

Editorial - September 22, 2007


With all due respect to the judicial system, the Warren Jeffs decision is one of those rare times when a jury's verdict is irrelevant.

The outcome really only impacts Jeffs and his freedom. It is doubtful it will have much impact on his followers, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A guilty verdict places him in the category of religious martyr while a not guilty verdict serves as a reaffirmation of faith for FLDS members and win, lose or draw, the practice of plural marriage will continue.


What has emerged from this trial, however, is a rare look inside of a very private, secretive segment of our society. And, when you pull back the layers, what is exposed is a culture of innocence and naivete.

It was startling to hear testimony that a 14-year-old girl had no knowledge of even the most rudimentary details of human reproduction; that a 19-year-old man thought he could gently introduce his young wife into sexual relations by exposing himself to her in a public park. How childlike and innocent they appear when introduced into the same news cycle as Britney Spears and O.J. Simpson. How different their world must be from that of the young people you encounter on the streets these days.

I wonder: Were they sheltered or neglected?

On the other hand, there is some charm in this rejection of worldliness. There are, after all, plenty of things in this world that we would be better off without. It would also be of great benefit to us all to not be so judgmental, so cynical, so tired, so world weary.

Of course, the innocent are easy marks, which means they can easily be had emotionally, physically and spiritually. They can be manipulated by religious charlatans and scam artists when forced to encounter the world. Still, there is comfort in knowing that not all of the people on this planet are hardened and suspicious.

There is a prurient curiosity attached to this case, of course, but the FLDS lifestyle runs much deeper than embracing polygamy. And, it's all so difficult to grasp.

I mean, we have here an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which itself, in many circles, is an unknown entity. So, if the mainstream followers of the Book of Mormon are a wild card to most of America, imagine how they must feel about members of the FLDS faith. How can we possibly come to understand others, from Muslims to Buddhists, when we can't understand those within our own country who follow a different spiritual path?

This trial was supposed to be a decision on whether Jeffs was guilty of rape as an accomplice for allegedly arranging a marriage between this 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin. Warren Jeffs was the accused, polygamy and the FLDS Church were not supposed to be on trial,

But, did that happen?

We'll never really know.

http://www.thespectrum.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070922/OPINION02/709220309

Ontario Police study abuse allegations

Globe & Mail - Canada

Police are 'reviewing the information that's out there,' spokeswoman says, but have not received complaints

MICHAEL VALPY

September 22, 2007

The inquiry into Grenville Christian College has entered a new phase with the Ontario Provincial Police confirming they are studying allegations from former students who claim they were abused and assaulted at the now-closed private school.

Officers from the Grenville County crime unit are examining what has been posted on websites and published and broadcast in the news media, as well as talking to people with knowledge of what went on in the school, located outside Brockville.

OPP spokeswoman Sergeant Kristine Rae said there is no formal criminal investigation because to date, she said, the OPP have not received complaints.

"No one has come to us. But we are reviewing the information that's out there. We need to know what's out there."


Two former students, who asked not to be identified, have said they will file complaints with the OPP next week.

One of them said he had been advised by Bishop George Bruce of the Anglican diocese in which the school is located, that he might want to talk to the police.

Bishop Bruce has been receiving written and oral complaints from former students over the past two weeks alleging cult practices and physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

The complaints have been made against two priests connected with Grenville: Rev. Charles Farnsworth, headmaster for nearly two decades until he retired in 1997, and Rev. Gordon Mintz, the school's last headmaster when it closed in August. They deny any wrongdoing.

There also have been complaints to Bishop Bruce that his immediate predecessor, retired bishop Peter Mason, knew about cult practices at the school but took no action.

Bishop Mason, who retired five years ago, has previously told The Globe and Mail he was aware of "a controversy around styles of leadership" at the school.

He also said that he visited the Community of Jesus for two or three days because he was curious to learn more about it, and that he was aware of the light sessions, which he described as "situations in a person's life that they felt needed to be addressed and they would do it in a group."

He said: "It might not be my cup of tea and I'm thinking in some ways it wasn't. But I don't recall being of the impression that I would blow a whistle on them."

He said at no time was he aware that students were being subjected to any of the practices engaged in by adult staff. "I am surprised to hear it," he said.

He also said that none of the complaints about Mr. Farnsworth brought to him by staff were serious enough to warrant an investigation.

Bishop Bruce has indicated to those who have met with him that his inquiry will continue until the end of the month.

He has said the Anglican Church and his diocese at no time had control over how the school operated - that it was an institution independent of the church - but he has acknowledged jurisdiction over Mr. Farnsworth and Mr. Mintz.

The diocese's canon laws prescribe that a bishop, after hearing formal complaints against a priest, will decide whether to refer the matter to a rarely convened ecclesiastical court or bring priest and complainant together for reconciliation. At least one former student has told the bishop she will not meet Mr. Farnsworth under any circumstances.

In 1973, Grenville became a satellite of a Massachusetts-based organization known as the Community of Jesus, labelled in U.S. media as a cult. The school staff, with one or two exceptions, swore "oblate" vows of obedience to the community and its leaders.

The school abruptly announced in July that it was closing, citing rising operating costs and declining enrolment.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070922.GRENVILLE22/TPStory/TPNational/Ontario/

'Jane Doe' no longer seeks anonymity, shows photo

Salt Lake Tribune - September 22, 2007


Nearly two years after leveling first civil and then criminal allegations against Warren S. Jeffs, a young woman has moved away from anonymity.
Elissa Wall on Friday released a photo of herself and agreed to the publication of the name she used in 2001, when she was the 14-year-old bride of her 19-year-old cousin. On Saturday, she released a photo of herself being fitted in her wedding dress.
She wants to remind people how young she was at the time of the wedding, performed by Jeffs, and subsequent alleged rapes by her husband, said Greg Hoole, one of her attorneys.
"A photo will help people keep that in mind," Hoole said.
Now 21, married, and the mother of two children, she is in a witness protection program and has legally changed her name, he said.
The date of the photo released Friday is unknown. Wall's attorneys say she estimates it was taken in autumn 2001 during a trip to Canada.
He added he also hoped to satisfy reporters' curiosity about Wall and pre-empt them from seeking her out.
On Monday, a jury will resume deliberations on two counts of rape as an accomplice against Jeffs.
The photo released Friday by Wall was not used as evidence in the case. Instead, jurors saw the photo released Saturday along with others of Wall and her husband, Allen Steed.
While Wall has been testifying in Jeffs' high-profile criminal trial, she also has been negotiating for a significant settlement in her own lawsuit against him.
That lawsuit was filed in December 2005, before the criminal charges were filed against Jeffs. She sued him, his sect - the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - and a communal property trust it once ran in its traditional home base of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
Her proposed settlement with the trust calls for her to receive eight building lots in the towns, four acres in Maxwell Canyon in Hildale, and the creation of a $1 million education/assistance fund for teens displaced from the polygamous community.
Hoole said Wall wants her lawsuit to also benefit others. "It's to help anyone who is trapped in that community to get out," he said.
- Brooke Adams and Nate Carlisle

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_6969028

Jeffs' role: Coercion, devotion?

Salt Lake tribune - September 22, 207

Prosecution and defense close with powerful but dueling presentations of the case

Brooke Adams

ST. GEORGE - It is now up to a jury to mull over who used power, control and manipulation - Warren Jeffs, Allen Steed or Elissa Wall - in a case that could put Jeffs, a polygamous sect leader, behind bars for life.
The defense view: A "laser beam of guilt" has been focused unfairly on Jeffs because he is the leader of a religion the state doesn't like.
The prosecution view: The only reason Wall entered a marriage at age 14 and then had sex with her cousin was because Jeffs told her to do so.
After attorneys gave closing arguments, the jury deliberated for about two hours Friday. They asked one undisclosed question before recessing until Monday.
Four women who had been serving as alternates were dismissed; the jury now consists of five men and three women.
After jurors left the courtroom, 5th District Judge James L. Shumate praised the attorneys, telling the audience: "You've seen the art of advocacy at its highest state. You have seen excellent, excellent lawyering."
Jeffs, 51, is charged in connection with the 2001 marriage he conducted between Wall, then 14, and Allen Steed, her 19-year-old cousin. Wall on Friday approved the media's use of her name at the time of the marriage.
Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, faces five years to life in prison if found guilty.
In more than three hours of pointed and personal closing arguments, the prosecution and defense gave jurors dueling portrayals of both Jeffs' power and the relationship between Wall and Steed.
Prosecutors said Wall was a naive teen who had been taught all her life to view "boys as snakes" and to be submissive to priesthood authority. The defense said she was a strong-willed girl with a distorted view of her arranged marriage, Jeffs' teachings and his actions.
Jurors will have to weigh the credibility of Wall, 21, and Steed, 26. Each cried while giving vastly different - and sometimes shifting - accounts of their marriage, their first sexual encounter and Jeffs' advice about their troubled relationship.

'Please don't make me'
Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap told jurors that Wall's actions and words clearly said she did not want to marry or have sex with Steed.
She balked at her wedding, saying "OK, I do" only when prompted. She told him, "Please don't make me" nearly three weeks later when she alleges he raped her.
"She didn't want to kiss him, she didn't want [to] touch him, let alone have sexual intercourse with him," Belnap said.
And at every step - before the marriage, during it and later when Wall sought his counsel - Jeffs ignored her protests, Belnap said.
Jeffs was her former teacher, principal, a first counselor in the FLDS faith and "mouthpiece" for his father, then-prophet Rulon T. Jeffs. He held authority that Wall was powerless to overcome, Belnap argued. And he used that power to deliver one message to young girls like Wall: They were to obey, be submissive, or risk the eternal consequences.
"If Warren Jeffs had listened to Elissa when she said, 'My heart is telling me no,' would Allen Steed ever have had sexual intercourse with Elissa Wall?" he asked jurors.
"When there is no consent, there is rape," he said. "No consent, sexual intercourse, rape."

'This is not Ms. Submissive'
But defense attorney Walter F. Bugden argued that what's really on trial is an unpopular religion "dressed up as a crime called rape."
He reminded jurors that Steed, the supposed rapist, had never been interviewed by police or charged with a crime.
The state - which he argued had "gone crazy for political reasons" - could have charged Jeffs with solemnizing an unlawful marriage but instead "dropped a nuclear bomb on Hildale and Colorado City and charged Mr. Jeffs with rape," he said.
The case was built solely on testimony from Wall and her two sisters, who distorted FLDS teachings about ''persuasion through love'' and translated a "terrible marriage'' into a rape, Bugden said.
Of all the people who had influence on Wall - her mother, stepfather and sisters - only Jeffs was being held out for blame, he said.
"My client should be be judged by the same standard as everyone else in that family," Bugden said. "And no one else in that family . . . thought rape was going to take place."
And there was no rape, he argued, as he reminded them Wall had in the past described her former husband as a victim and told police she did not want him "pursued."
Steed was an unsophisticated, awkward man and Wall dominated the marriage, Bugden said. When sex happened, it was because she initiated it, he said.
''What happened in the bedroom wasn't different from what happened in other aspects of their lives," he said. "She did exactly what she wanted to do," from dropping out of school to working two jobs and, finally, having an affair.
"This is not Ms. Submissive, this is not Ms. Robot, this girl," he said. "She was not stripped of her independence."
She had family in Salt Lake City, Canada and, later, Oregon, he said, arguing she had a way out.
"Elissa told no one, absolutely no one, she was being raped," he said, not even her "fiercely loyal sisters."
Wall's story of her marriage began to evolve, he said, when she met with a Baltimore civil attorney famed for winning large settlements from churches. She filed a lawsuit against Jeffs before meeting with police, he noted.
"Money changes everything," Bugden said.
Focus on Jeffs
But Belnap, who addressed the jurors before and after the defense, said the case "is about Mr. Jeffs and his actions."
While others around Wall may share responsibility, he added, "other people's culpability doesn't excuse yours."
Defense witnesses described the FLDS culture as forbidding even flirting before marriage, he pointed out. Steed could not have gotten close to Wall without Jeffs performing their marriage, he said.
"The person who put Allen Steed in that position was Mr. Jeffs," he said.
Belnap said Steed claimed he had been advised to go slow in wooing his wife but admitted to a "shrinking" time frame for their first sexual encounter. If Wall was truly the strong personality that Bugden claimed, Belnap added, why didn't she leave or tell anyone she was being raped? At 14, she didn't even know what the word meant, he said.
He also asked jurors: "Do you really think Elissa Wall was initiating sex with her 19-year-old husband?"
Remember, he said, that the FLDS culture teaches girls to treat boys "like snakes."
Jeffs manipulated Wall at every point, from the arranged marriage to his directive that she work it out with her husband, Belnap said.
"That's wrongful," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's motivated by love, it doesn't matter what it's motivated by."

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_6969027

22 Sep 2007

Single-minded lawman pursues polygamists

CNN - September 20, 2007

(CNN) -- Pinning down a prophet is lonely work. Just ask Mohave County, Arizona, investigator Gary Engels.

The plain-spoken Engels' sole focus since October 2004 has been to pursue Warren Jeffs and his polygamist sect in Colorado City, Arizona, a town on the state line across from Hildale, Utah.

He hasn't gotten a lot of help from the locals, including the police, whose loyalties have been called into question.

A state oversight board has stripped six members of Colorado City's tiny police force of their badges since 2003 -- all members of Jeffs' FLDS church.

Some were decertified for having plural wifes and others for failing to help catch Jeffs when he was a fugitive, according to The Associated Press. Read

Townsfolk turn their backs on Engels when he tries to talk to them, and most of those who do talk are evasive, says the former police officer.

"There is nobody that works in this city, that works for this city, that is not a loyal FLDS member, and that's from the mayor all the way through the employees right down to the last marshal here, and the last police officer that works here is loyal to Warren Jeffs," Engels told CNN.

"It's my experience ... that these police officers are not real police officers. They're enforcers for the FLDS church. They're enforcers for Warren," he said in another interview.

"I know that if it comes down to it, I can't count on them at all for backup," he said. "In fact, I believe that if guns started being pointed, that their guns would probably be pointed at me."

The FLDS is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the polygamous sect that Jeffs runs. The FLDS, now with perhaps 10,000 adherents, broke away from the Mormon church more than a century ago when the latter disavowed polygamy.

It was Engels' investigation that led to Jeffs' arrest on charges including being an accomplice to rape. The charges stem from Jeffs' alleged practice of arranging marriages between adult male followers and underage brides.

Closing arguments are set Friday in Jeffs' trial across the state line in St. George, Utah. The FLDS leader also faces similar charges in Arizona. So far, Engels has steered clear of the Utah trial. But his investigation is ongoing.

Ever since his office was burglarized, the investigator always carries his files with him, he told Court TV, which is part of CNN's parent company, Time Warner.

Engels' work might be lonely, but he's rarely alone. He says he is followed by young men in vehicles with tinted windows every time he shows up in the sect's stronghold.

"Sometimes if they're stopped at a stop sign or something, they'll try to take off real fast, throwing gravel on my vehicle," he told CNN. "Or the diesels, you know, they'll accelerate real fast, blowing a lot of black smoke out."

But he has never let the surveillance and the glares stop him. He is on a mission.

"I think, eventually, justice will win out," he told CNN shortly after Jeffs' arrest. "If I didn't, I couldn't continue to do this. So we just keep pushing and pushing, and -- and see where it leads us. I'm not -- I'm not done yet. I'm not ready to give up."

He elaborated in a 2005 interview with National Public Radio.

"I would just love to see this whole community brought back into the United States, where everybody has equal rights," he said.

"These people don't have the right to voice their opinion. They don't have the right to criticize," he told NPR. "If they do, then they stand to lose their house, they stand to lose their family, and they stand to lose their job, and most important to most of these people, they stand to lose their salvation."

Engels said he's not necessarily interested in stopping the practice of polygamy, according to Court TV.

"When I first got here, it was still a shock," he told Court TV. "I don't even think about it anymore. There are some families up there where polygamy works for them, and some [where] it doesn't. But I think it has to be done among consenting adults."

That's why prosecutions in the case have focused on statutory rape charges. The case has been built by comparing dates on marriage and birth certificates to identify girls who became pregnant by older men before the girls were 16, too young for sex under Arizona law.

"If they get them young enough and get a couple of children, then it makes it very difficult for them to leave," he told CNN. "And the fact that the women are not educated or taught how to deal or take care of themselves in the outside world is another issue."

He doubts change will come quickly to this corner of the desert, even if Jeffs is convicted.

"I think that there are the die-hards that will always consider him the prophet," Engels said. "There are those that are probably questioning it right now."

He said he'll be satisfied if the trial lets women in the FLDS know they have other choices.

"I hope that it will empower some of the women there who may be thinking about wanting to get out, to go ahead and get out."



http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/09/20/jeffs.engels/

Believers 'put their child's life in danger'

The Mercury - South Africa

September 20, 2007

Lawyers acting for a Durban hospital and paediatric surgeon made a mercy dash to the High Court this week, securing a court order allowing them to give a critically ill two-year-old girl a blood transfusion in the face of staunch opposition from her Jehovah's Witness parents.

In granting the order giving Parklands Hospital and surgeon Abdool Shaik authority to do whatever is necessary over the next seven days to save the little girl's life, Durban High Court Judge Herbert Msimang said the court, as the upper guardian of all children, had to act in their best interests.

The parents, Thabani and Simangele Mabanga, who were supported in court by members of their church, had argued earlier that God was the ultimate guardian, and that according to their religious beliefs they would not give consent for a transfusion.

Their daughter was admitted to hospital at the end of August suffering from pneumonia. She was diagnosed with a massive sub-hepatic abscess in her abdominal cavity and was referred to Shaik for surgery.

In his affidavit before the judge, Shaik said she was critically ill - "in the early stages of cardiac arrest" - and in urgent need of abdominal surgery and a blood transfusion to enable the surgery to be performed.

Because of the nature of the surgery, she would lose a considerable amount of blood.

"This will be compensated by the giving of a blood transfusion prior to and possibly after surgery. It is my opinion, and the opinion of the anaesthetist, that in the absence of this, the child is unlikely to survive surgery."

This had been explained to the parents, but they had declined to authorise the blood transfusions "as it is contrary to the tenets of their faith".

On Monday the parents had indicated that if emergency surgery was required, and all efforts to avoid a blood transfusion had failed, and Shaik regarded it as vital to save her life, then the transfusion could be done.

But they changed their minds and withdrew this "conditional authority".

"I am now concerned that the parents might withdraw their consent to the life-saving surgery as well," Shaik said.

The parents suggested during Tuesday's court hearing that the doctor should consider using a synthesised protein product that reportedly helps to oxygenate the blood.

But they only handed in pamphlets on the product and had no medical evidence to back them up. It was also suggested that the product had not been registered for use on small children in South Africa.

Advocates acting for the hospital and the doctor said they respected the parents' right to their religious beliefs but that that had to be weighed against the constitutional right to life. They referred to a similar case in Johannesburg in 2003 in which the court had granted a similar order.

Approached by The Mercury on Wednesday, Gillian Williams, of MacRobert, the firm representing the doctor, said the little girl was being operated on on Wednesday and would be transfused during and, if necessary, after the surgery.


http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=125&art_id=vn20070920052719770C937079

Award Cut in Mormon Church Abuse Case

Associated Press - September 20, 2007

SEATTLE (AP) — Part of a $4.2 million award in a sexual abuse-related lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been overturned on appeal.

A three-judge panel of the Washington state Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday that the church still owed slightly more than $1.2 million to two sisters who said a Mormon bishop had kept one of them from reporting sexual abuse by their stepfather, Mormon high priest Peter N. Taylor.

However, the panel also ruled that the church was not financially responsible for Taylor's liability and returned the case to a trial court for a decision on liability beyond the $1.2 million.

Thomas D. Frey, a lawyer for the church, said church leaders were pleased with the legal clarification.

In late 2005, a jury in Seattle awarded $4.2 million to Jessica and Ashley Cavalieri, now 26 and 21, for abuse that occurred in the 1990s.

Of the total, $1.7 million was assessed against Taylor, slightly more than $1.1 million against the church for outrageous infliction of emotional distress because Bishop Bruce Randall Hatch prevented the older daughter from reporting abuse, and $1.4 million against the church for negligence because Hatch did not report the abuse to civil authorities.

The appeals ruling held that the church could not be held liable for the entire amount assessed against Taylor and overturned the negligence award altogether. The appeals court rejected the sisters' claim that the bishop was similar to a social worker and thus required to report sexual abuse to authorities.

Timothy D. Kosnoff, a lawyer for the sisters, said he might appeal.

Taylor pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation in 2001 and was sentenced to more than four years in prison.

The sisters agreed to let their names be used in news reports in the hopes it would help other abused children after they brought the case in 2002.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gBCi0lM7LsTSWZ0KsM-L_ri1Ir9g

It wasn't rape, ex-husband testifies

Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun

September 20, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah - Who will the jury believe? That's what it comes down to in the trial of Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the largest polygamous group in North America.

Will they believe Jane Doe, the young woman forced by her mother, stepfather and Jeffs to marry at age 14, who says that within three weeks she was raped by her then-husband, 19-year-old Allen Steed?

Will they believe she'd been told by the prophet -- Jeffs' father -- that she didn't have to go through with the arranged marriage and that Jeffs overruled that? Will they believe she begged Steed not to touch her and told him she hated him?

Or will they believe Steed, who cried as he testified Wednesday that he loved her and would never have hurt her?

If jurors choose Steed, Jeffs -- who was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List -- has to be acquitted of two counts of being an accomplice to rape. If they choose the young woman's version, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints could go to jail for life.

Steed has never been charged with rape and risked incriminating himself by testifying. The marriage was annulled in 2004.

Before the marriage, the now 26-year-old truck driver said he was counselled to "be slow, take a long time, to be kind, considerate and respectful" of her by Doe's stepfather, the FLDS bishop.

Growing up in the reclusive, repressive FLDS society, neither Steed nor the girl -- called Jane Doe to protect her identity -- had any sex education and had never been allowed to date. They believed God determined who was to marry and communicated that to the prophet through revelation.

Doe had earlier testified that her first sexual experience was rape. Steed described the first few months of their religious marriage as "rough and rocky," but he said Doe initiated intercourse.

"I came home. I was putting in long hours at my job and I was really, really tired," the sturdily built, soft spoken Steed said.

"I went to sleep in my work clothes and as the night progressed, she woke me up and asked me if I cared about her and I said I loved her. She rolled up close to me and asked me to scratch her back and one thing led to another."

He found himself "guided to her" and they had sex.

Steed said it happened several months after the wedding, but recanted that on cross-examination after being shown a photo of a trip they made to Canada three weeks after the ceremony. By then, Steed said they'd had intercourse.

Conversations about sex are coded in FLDS communities. "Having children" is one of the code phrases. Steed testified Doe told him she wanted to wait as long as five years before having children. Under cross-examination, he changed that.

"She said maybe a couple of weeks, couple of months or maybe five years," Steed said.

"So you took the earliest date?" prosecutor Craig Barlow asked. "Wouldn't you?"

"Of course I did," Steed replied. "I wanted to have a child. I wanted her to know I loved her. I didn't want her frightened."

"Why was she frightened?" the prosecutor asked.

Steed said he never asked her. Steed said he didn't recall Doe crying or asking him to stop that night, or telling her the prophet wanted them to have children. He didn't recall whether she bled.

Barlow asked if Steed's idea of going slowly was having sex three weeks after marrying a 14-year-old who had no idea how babies were created and had told him she didn't want him touching her?

"It seemed like a long time to me," Steed said.

Did he think her perception might have been different and that he misread her? Barlow asked.


"Yes, that's possible. Me not being able to read her mind. I wasn't very good at communicating."

A few days before they had intercourse, Steed had exposed his genitals to her in a park. They were lying on the grass looking at the stars. There was no physical contact before he got up and exposed himself.

"In my own clumsy way, I tried to make her feel more comfortable to help move things along [sexually]," he said, describing Doe's reaction as "surprised" and "offended."

Was that Steed's idea of "courting his wife?" Barlow asked.

"I felt like sometime we had to learn to get familiar with each other."

Under Barlow's questioning, Steed admitted he doesn't believe state laws such as the marriage age of 16 apply to him and the FLDS -- only God's law applies.

Steed doesn't have a wife now, but said he believes the way to the highest realm of heaven is to have several wives, who Jeffs would have to assign to him.

Jeffs' attorney, Walter Bugden, tried to dispel the perception Steed might lie for Jeffs to accomplish that. In response to a "hypothetical question," Steed replied he would never lie because it would be against God's law.

Jane Blackmore, the midwife for the FLDS community in Bountiful, B.C. for four years, was the final witness called by the prosecution to rebut the defence's case.

Blackmore said Doe was pregnant and one of her patients in the winter of 2002. She was pregnant and had had a previous miscarriage with no medical treatment. She hadn't told her husband about the miscarriage or the pregnancy. She told Blackmore she didn't want a baby or her husband.

"I asked her about abuse and she said she felt she was being forced," Blackmore said. "She said, 'My husband won't take no for an answer.'"

Doe had her second miscarriage in February 2003.

Jurors will begin their deliberations after the attorneys' final statements Friday.

dbramham@png.canwest.com

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=67b74f11-eec5-4d37-b200-31f3e8eedda8

Community of Jesus leader implicated in 1990s abuse probe

Cape Cod Times

By Susan Milton

STAFF WRITER

September 20, 2007

ORLEANS — The local leader of the Community of Jesus is named in a complaint of alleged abuse at a Canadian Christian prep school in the 1990s. The allegation is under investigation by the Bishop of Ontario in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Elizabeth Pugsley, prioress of the Community of Jesus at Rock Harbor at least since 1993, was implicated in the alleged abuse at Grenville Christian College, according to the complaint filed by Rosalyn Price English, a former student and staff member at the Brockville, Ontario, school.

Price English, now 34, whose parents once sought marriage counseling at the Community of Jesus, is one of at least four former Grenville students or staff who have filed complaints with the Diocese of Ontario alleging misconduct by two Episcopal priests.

The Diocese is investigating allegations of abuse by the two priests at Grenville in the 1980s and 1990s, a time when the prep school had strong ties to the Community of Jesus in Orleans, according to school leaders and ex-students and staff. The abuse allegations arose from postings over the past 17 months to an Internet discussion group about the Community of Jesus and Grenville school in the category of Religious Cults and Sects.

Jeffrey Wilkinson, a former Community of Jesus monk and an ex-Grenville staffer, earlier this month told the Times that the Orleans religious group and the Ontario prep school were "intrinsically linked" from at least 1973 to 1995. In 1981, then Grenville headmaster Alastair Haig told the Times that the Community of Jesus saved the college in 1973 from morale and financial problems.

Bishop George Bruce, who is leading the investigation into the abuse allegations involving the two priests, has not identified the men. But Price English has named former Grenville headmaster the Rev. Charles Farnsworth in her complaint.

Among other allegations, Price English claims she was one of 12 women, ages 17 to 26, who obeyed a 1994 order from Farnsworth and Pugsley to live in a "boot camp" of sorts in a 15-foot-by-15-foot room at Grenville Christian College.

"Initially, we weren't given a choice. You either do this or you can't be here at Grenville," Price English, a married housewife, said during a telephone interview with the Times from her Pennsylvania home.

In a formal letter of complaint to a church official, Price English said Farnsworth exhibited a pattern of demeaning behavior and statements. "We had regular sessions where we were told (by Farnsworth) we were like 'bitches in heat' and we were too focused on looking good," her letter states.

Steve Hassan, a licensed mental health counselor in Somerville and mind control expert, sees common ground between the boot camp at Grenville, as described by Price English, and behavior at the Community of Jesus that he first learned about in 1985 after he was contacted by members of the church.

"In reading this complaint, it sounds like a number of themes have been touched upon here that have characteristics of a destructive cult," Hassan said Tuesday after reading Price English's letter.


"The breaking down, forcing people to do behaviors that are denigrating, the language, the control of behavior, that if you're not doing what the group wants, you're violating God's will," he said. "It's certainly abusive personality control and it's very much an example of what I remember from the Community of Jesus."

Price English left the school and never returned.

"I had somewhere to go. Others stayed (in the boot camp) for the whole year," she said. "It never dawned on me that they didn't have a place to go."

Price English was raised in a conservative family with parents who are devout Christians. Like others in the boot camp, she was accustomed to obeying school and church leaders. "We were so used to doing what we were told," Price English said. "If you didn't do it, it was hell. So it was easier just to go along because you were living in a religious community, striving for God's perfection and ... you were willing to do what you were told because you were following God's will."

The Times made several attempts to reach Pugsley for comment, including requests for an interview on Friday and Monday. Pugsley's attorney, Christopher Kanaga, who is also a Community of Jesus member, told the Times Tuesday that Pugsley was unavailable.

Pugsley also uses the name Elizabeth Patterson as director of the Gloria Dei Cantores choir. She is out of town on tour with the choir this week, Kanaga said. Asked whether Pugsley could be reached by cell phone, he said, "Probably not."

The Community of Jesus was founded in 1968 by Cay Andersen and Judy Sorensen, who met as prayer partners at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans. They later traveled across the country, visiting Protestant churches and attracting followers to live or visit their Rock Harbor headquarters, according to a 1981 Times series.

In 1973, Sorensen, Andersen and other Community of Jesus members traveled to Grenville Christian College, a K-12 prep school, to train school staff and administration. After that, the two founders were frequent visitors. In 1981, as many as 60 of 65 Grenville staffers were Community of Jesus members, many of whom regularly came to the Cape church for retreats. From 1988 to 1993, roughly a dozen Community of Jesus members' children attended Grenville. Community of Jesus lawyer Jeff Robbins has said church members' children attended the school through 1996.

After Farnsworth retired in 1997, staff at the school and leaders of the Community of Jesus grew apart, according to school and church sources.

As part of his investigating of the prep school, Bishop Bruce is interviewing former students and staff who filed abuse complaints. He is expected to continue his probe through the end of the month, according to the Rev. Wayne Varley, Diocesean executive officer.

Price English is scheduled to talk to Bruce in a conference call next week, she said.

Susan Milton can be reached at smilton@capecodonline.com.

http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070920/NEWS/709200341

19 Sep 2007

Should People Be Free To Be Enslaved?: Polygamy, Prostitution, and the "Consenting Adults" Argument

FindLaw - September 19, 2007

by Sherry F. Colb


Recently, Warren S. Jeffs was charged with two felony counts of rape, as an accomplice. Prosecutors allege that Jeff forced a 14-year-old girl to marry her older cousin, who subsequently forced the girl to have intercourse with him.

As the spiritual leader or "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ("FLDS"), Jeffs has allegedly been involved in facilitating many more marriages involving underage women, including plural marriages, than the charges against him reflect. As FindLaw columnist Marci Hamilton suggested in her persuasive essay on the subject, Jeffs's arrest could signal a new willingness on the part of our public institutions to prioritize children's rights over absolute religious prerogative. It could also, I would suggest, highlight a dark side to polygamy - one that belies the claims of those who defend it as a "private" matter between consenting adults.

At the same time, as Bob Herbert suggested in a heartbreaking and compelling New York Times column, the practice of prostitution, in Nevada and elsewhere poses a threat to the safety, wellbeing, and freedom of women and young girls who find themselves caught within its web. Such stories likewise call into question the suggestion by prostitution's defenders that the oldest profession ought to be treated as a private affair between consenting adults, inappropriate for criminal sanction.

Polygamy and prostitution are, of course, distinct from each other in an important respect. Fundamentalist Mormons today (and Mormons as a group between 1852 and 1890) have practiced polygamy as a spiritual commandment, one that co-exists with other commandments that prohibit prostitution among the many sexual indulgences that constitute sinful behavior.

Yet polygamy and prostitution also share something in common: Both involve sexual interactions in which adult women (as well as minors) can, at least in theory, give consent. As such, both of these practices have defenders not only among those indifferent to women's rights, but also among people who care deeply about freedom and autonomy for women.

A Right to Be A Plural Wife or a Prostitute?

Those who view plural marriage or polygyny (polygamy involving multiple wives, but never multiple husbands) as a religiously-mandated behavior would likely find insulting the comparison to prostitution. They might point out that prostitution represents the absolute commodification and debasement of sexuality, while plural marriage is a spiritual mission directed by God. In both cases, though, we have a widely condemned and criminalized behavior in which sex is an important component and which proponents claim causes harm to no one because everyone involved has given consent.

Those who favor the legalization of prostitution argue that, like consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex or of different racial groups, consensual sex between a prostitute and a client is fundamentally private and should not be criminally banned. People go to prostitutes for a variety of reasons, some of which overlap with the motives of those who seek non-compensated sexual congress, and it is not, on this approach, the business of government to interrogate or punish people for voluntarily pursuing their sexual preferences in private.

Those who support the legalization of polygamy make some of the same arguments. Though one could invoke religious freedom on behalf of the FLDS, the U.S. Supreme Court has long approved of prohibitions against marrying more than one person, even in a past era when the constitutional standard for evaluating incursions on religious freedom was more exacting than it is today. Defenders of polygyny thus tend to rely, in addition, on the argument that a woman who wishes to marry a man who already has a wife should have the freedom to do so, as a matter of personal, sexual autonomy.


Some plural wives have even spoken out publicly to say that their lives are, in many respects, better than those of women married to monogamous men, because the burden of caring for a man and his children can be distributed among what amounts to an extended family network of women. Prostitutes sometimes say similar things about their profession - that providing sex for money, for example, frees them from many of the ordinary (and sexist) obligations that a wife might have to her husband. As I outlined in a column several years ago, the two institutions, of marriage and of prostitution, share exist some uncomfortable similarities.

One response to these autonomy-based arguments is to say that prostitution and polygyny are both inherently degrading to women, because they treat women as commodities for sale or for collection. Regardless of what might happen in an individual case, this response contends, the deep meaning of these practices is destructive to women's status, and their criminalization and ultimate abolition is desirable for that reason. In other words, an individual woman should not have the right to consent to exchanges that more broadly damage the ways in which women and girls, as classes, are viewed in society. On this view, moreover, if an individual woman thinks she is benefiting from polygyny or prostitution, she is simply fooling herself and falling prey to misogynist thinking.

This sort of response plainly has a paternalistic flavor to it. It suggests that the adult women who agree to be prostitutes or plural wives have "false consciousness" and do not realize that they are actually being humiliated as women (and accordingly humiliating other women too). Such an argument can be dangerous, because similar arguments can be mobilized against almost anyone who seeks the right to do or say unpopular things. For example, it was not that long ago that women were excluded from professions far more prestigious than prostitution on the ground that - regardless of what women thought or even insisted they wanted to do - such professions were destructive to the natural inclinations and needs of the "fairer sex."

Reality Is Coercive; Freedom Is Illusory

A more potent argument against the legalization of prostitution and polygyny relies on the reality of what takes place, respectively, within these two institutions. As Jon Krakauer powerfully demonstrates in Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, polygyny within the FLDS faith is not just symbolically misogynistic. It is regularly, in practice, a zone of violence and persecution of women, many of whom are quite young and lack the maturity and/or legal capacity to consent to sexual conduct and to marriage.

In a similar vein, Bob Herbert's column, mentioned above, makes and supports the claim that in reality, women in prostitution are not free. Herbert says that "[r]eal-world prostitution, in whatever guise, bears no resemblance at all to the empowerment fantasies of prostitution proponents. I have never seen such vulnerable, powerless women as those in the sex trade, legal or illegal." Herbert had also written an earlier column calling our attention to the harms of prostitution in Las Vegas, and taking issue with Mayor Oscar Goodman for enthusiastically supporting the proliferation of brothels in his city. Mayor Goodman's response to Bob Herbert's exercise of free speech is telling: He said "I'll take a baseball bat and break his head if he ever comes here."

The Slavery Analogy

To draw an (admittedly imperfect) analogy to both prostitution and polygyny, consider slavery. The dominant mythology in the South, during and after the Civil War, included the notion that slaves actually liked being slaves, as the condition supposedly fulfilled their natural destiny. D.W. Griffith's famously controversial film, The Birth of a Nation, displayed this mythology when it depicted a slave woman angrily resisting abolitionists' efforts to terminate her desired (and, implicitly, desirable) status as a slave.

Slavery in this country was not, of course, even nominally consensual. The coercion involved in the practice was legally enshrined and unambiguous. Prostitution and polygyny are quite different in that respect: Neither existing laws nor proponents of legalization seek to protect a man's right to force multiple women into marriage or to sell unwilling women to violent customers.

However, numerous books on the subject, including Doctor Alexa Albert's fascinating story, Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women, attest to the reality that "freedom" within the world of prostitution exists, if at all, mainly at its threshold, that is, when one enters the profession. For many, moreover, the threshold is crossed prior to the age of consent. And once a prostitute, a woman may not be able to exit without facing great obstacles and potential danger to her life. Many ex-plural-wives have had similar things to say about plural marriage within the FLDS faith: they could not leave without facing formidable opposition and obstacles, including the possibility of physical violence.

A Compromise Solution: Criminal Immunity for Prostitutes and Plural Wives

I examined, in a different column, the claim that abortion and euthanasia are only apparently "freedoms" but in fact represent coercive options that, once available, can easily become mandatory. In that column, I rejected this claim, concluding that the evidence does not support it in connection with either abortion or euthanasia. To the extent, however, that the claim has greater resonance in the context of polygyny and prostitution, I would suggest an approach to these practices that mirrors the approach taken by much of the pro-life movement to abortion.

As I discussed in another recent column, many of those who condemn abortion as murder nonetheless support an exemption from criminal penalties for the woman having the abortion. I would propose such a regime, not for abortion, but for prostitution and polygyny: The practices should continue to be unlawful, on this approach. However, prostitutes and plural wives should themselves enjoy an exemption from criminal consequences. As the victims of these practices whose "choice" is (and whose legal responsibility therefore ought to be) absent, prostitutes and plural wives would then have the power to blow the whistle without fear of legal repercussions.

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/colb/20070919.html