17 Apr 2011

Almost 2 billion pages of evidence in child bride trials of Mormon sect leaders challenged by FLDS lawyers

Fox 13 Now - Utah April 16, 2011

New court docs reveal 1.7 billion pages of evidence in FLDS case

Warren Jeffs purportedly makes new apocalyptic prediction from Texas jail cell

by Ben Winslow


A new court filing reveals that federal authorities continue to actively investigate the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with more than a billion pages of evidence seized from the polygamous sect's sprawling Texas ranch.

Attorneys for Frederick Merrill Jessop, the one-time bishop of the FLDS Church's Yearning for Zion Ranch outside Eldorado, filed a motion seeking to delay his upcoming trial on charges of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor. In the document, they revealed the ongoing federal investigation by noting the voluminous amounts of evidence in the cases against FLDS members.

The evidence, presumably marriage records, diaries and other materials, were seized by Texas authorities during the 2008 raid on the YFZ Ranch. During the raid, more than 400 children were taken into state protective custody over allegations of abuse. They were ultimately returned after a pair of court rulings found the state's actions improper. The call that sparked the raid is believed to be a hoax.

The admissibility of any evidence seized by Texas authorities is also being challenged in court.

"This new discovery apparently constitutes electronic items which were seized by federal law enforcement authorities, purportedly pursuant to federal search warrants, the affidavits for which remain under seal," Jessop's attorneys Amy Hennington and Gerald Goldstein wrote.

The attorneys wrote the electronic evidence alone made up two terabytes of data (approximately 2,000 gigabytes) that has not been reviewed. That alone represents about 440 million hard copy pages, "bringing the total discovery received in this case to approximately one billion, seven hundred million (1,764,400,062) pages of materials," Hennington and Goldstein wrote.

The attorneys also said that the Texas Attorney General's Office is also seeking to get copies of federal search warrant affidavits. However, those remain under seal in Dallas, Texas.

In the waning days of the raid on the YFZ Ranch, FBI agents served a search warrant and seized more evidence. Federal authorities have consistently refused to discuss any investigation into the FLDS Church in Texas.

Photographs obtained by Fox 13 show hundreds of boxes of paper evidence that were seized by Texas authorities from the FLDS Church's temple annex in Eldorado. The evidence state and federal authorities have been investigating is voluminous.

A dozen FLDS members, including polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, are facing criminal charges stemming from the raid. Most are related to underage marriages.

Authorities outside Texas continue to search for evidence of so-called child bride marriages. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently announced it was conducting its own investigation into the trafficking of girls across the U.S.-Canadian border for purposes of marriage after Texas documents found their way into a court case in British Columbia considering decriminalizing polygamy in that country.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said in a recent interview with Fox 13 he has had no evidence presented to him of child bride marriages in Utah since 2004, when Utah made child bigamy a second-degree felony.

Meanwhile, from his jail cell in Big Lake, Texas, Jeffs has purportedly issued another proclamation. The document given to Fox 13, which was reportedly sent to followers in Hildale and Colorado City, is described as a "word of warning" from God through Jeffs.

The "revelation" calls for an end to wars across the world, before warning of more earthquakes, violence, "pestilence and famine and disease" before Jesus Christ's return

"And when you reject my word, and my spirit of peace withdraws, darkness rules," Jeffs wrote. "And there shall be violence in many lands and I shall send my judgments to cleanse the more wicked out of every nation and preserve the more righteous in preparing for my glorious appearing on earth."

The document is dated April 6, which is significant in Mormon history -- the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Joseph Smith. The FLDS Church is a breakaway sect.

The document is signed by "members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known among men as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

From his jail cell in Texas, where he has access to a phone, Jeffs has reasserted his control as president of the FLDS Church. He has ousted numerous members. Another member, William E. Jessop, has filed documents with the state of Utah challenging Jeffs' presidency of the church

This article was found at:


More evidence submitted against Mormon polygamist leader for sex assault of pre-teen child brides, trial dates set

Decision in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy months away but evidence renews police investigation

Author who escaped abuse in US polygamy cult explains why Canadian constitutional case is so important in both countries

Stop Polygamy in Canada website has notes taken by observers in the courtroom as well as links to most of the affidavits and research the court is considering in this case.

FLDS children raised for a life of poverty and servitude to their insane pedophile prophet Warren Jeffs

Child rapist Warren Jeffs predicts doomsday for an "evil wicked sinful world" if he is not freed from prison

Warren Jeffs diary submitted to Canadian court reveals three more child brides smuggled to US for FLDS leaders

RCMP renew investigation of Mormon polygamists on new evidence of child bride trafficking to US

Warren Jeffs ordered Canadian parents to smuggle daughters as young as 12 into US to be his brides

BC government failed to act on evidence of child bride trafficking after 2008 Texas raid on polygamists

Judge hearing polygamy case asked to allow new evidence of child bride trafficking between Canada and US

Rape charge dropped in plea deal for FLDS man who married 14 year old cousin, pleads guilty to lesser charges

Jeffs retakes legal control of FLDS from prison, court rules Utah illegally took over sect's property trust

Sect papers reveal Jeffs total control of followers, even from jail

Warren Jeffs Still Dominant Force Even After Conviction

Polygamist leader Jeffs still a force from jail

JEFFS BOMBSHELL: Says he was "immoral" with sister, daughter in jailhouse tapes

Trial of Mormon fundamentalist leader Jeffs delayed again due to massive amount of evidence

Trial will proceed for FLDS man charged with rape after polygamist leader Jeffs was convicted as accomplice to rape

Polygamous sect leader hires then fires lawyer so judge appoints standby counsel and delays start of trial

Polygamist cult leader's silence in Texas court results in not guilty plea to bigamy and child sex charges

Utah Supreme Court denies rehearing of conviction reversal in polygamous sect leader's accomplice to rape case 

Polygamist leader failed to delay Texas trial set to start January 2011, supporter says God approves of child brides 

Texas juries have convicted 5 Mormon fundamentalists from cult compound, 2 others pled guilty, leader Jeffs next to be tried 

Mormon polygamist cult leader Jeffs extradited to Texas to face charges related to child 'brides' and bigamy 

Utah Court allows extradition of Mormon fundamentalist leader Jeffs to Texas to face child 'bride' sex abuse charges 

Utah Court of Appeals suspends extradition of Mormon fundamentalist leader to Texas while it considers legal issues

Mormon polygamist cult leader's lawyer says Utah and Texas conspiring through extradition to deny his constitutional rights 

Mormon polygamist sect leader still fighting extradition to Texas where prosecutors have more evidence against him 

Utah sending Mormon polygamist leader to Texas to face bigamy, child sex assault charges 

Jon Krakauer's reaction to court's reversal of Mormon polygamist's rape convictions

Utah Supreme Court decides to not protect FLDS girls from forced marriage, overturns Warren Jeffs' accomplice to rape convictions

Child 'bride' key witness against Warren Jeffs stunned by court's reversal of rape convictions, fears for safety of FLDS children

Mormon polygamist leader jailed in Utah refuses to sign warrant extraditing him to Texas to face child sex charges

Extradition process started to bring jailed Mormon polygamist leader to Texas for trial after Arizona drops cases against him 

Former under-age polygamous bride tells all in book 

Catching 5 from West Texas polygamist ranch may require wide net 

Brother of jailed Mormon polygamist leader sentenced to 17 years for sex assault of child in forced 'marriage' 

Trial begins for brother of jailed Mormon polygamist sect leader, state seeks enhanced penalty for sex assault of child

Mormon polygamist accused of sexual assault wants evidence of polygamy and fraud excluded from trial

Evidence seized during raid on Texas polygamist ranch can be used in sexual assault trials

FLDS polygamist sentenced to 10 years for sexual assault of minor in forced 'marriage'

Mormon polygamist gets 33 years for child sexual assault, defense relied on ridiculous religious freedom argument

Second Mormon polygamist found guilty of child sex assault, jury doesn't buy defense claim of religious persecution

Third Texas polygamist jailed for sex assault, but FLDS spokesman says no contest plea was merely a legal tactic

Fourth Mormon polygamist from Texas compound guilty of bigamy and sex assault of child 'bride', jailed 75 years 

First legal finding that bigamy occurred at Mormon fundamentalist compound sees two more polygamists sent to prison

Warren Jeffs' FLDS Church and What I Left Behind

Jeffs's wedding pictures disgust

Creepy photos of jailed FLDS sect leader released in custody battle

Texas seeks custody of teen Jeffs allegedly wed

Jeffs' role: Coercion, devotion?

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

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

Jeffs verdict irrelevant to followers, polygamist community

Listening to the Lord: Jeffs exerted 24-7 control over FLDS faithful

When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear, and the Women Who Fought Back

New Book on Warren Jeffs' Polygamy Sect Provides Insight into Lives of Women Enslaved by Fundamentalist Group

Texas polygamist trial set to start, advocate says women nothing but pimps giving their daughters to perverts

Texas doctor protesting conviction of FLDS polygamist for sexual assault says law should allow sex with minors 

Hate mail from Mormon polygamists doesn't faze Texas lawmaker who crafted laws to protect girls from religious abuse


  1. Salt Lake Tribune July 29, 2011

    Warren Jeffs delivers threatening ‘statement from God’


    Accused child-bride rapist and self-styled polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs — who is representing himself at trial in a West Texas courtroom — on Friday afternoon delivered a threatening "statement from God," saying those who are prosecuting him will face "sickness and death."

    "I will wrest your power. I shall judge you. I shall let all people’s know your unjust ways," Jeffs told the court. "I will send a scourge upon the counties of prosecutorial zeal that to be humbled by sickness and death."

    The statement came after a state Child Protective Services worker was beginning to testify about a 12-year-old girl with whom Jeffs’ allegedly had sex.

    Jeffs started by interrupting the testimony by talking and making objections, prompting District Judge Barbara Walther to send out the jury.

    Jeffs then told the judge, "I’ve got this statement from God."

    Earlier Friday, Jeffs — who has largely remained silent — had launched into an occasionally agitated hour-long diatribe when prosecutors introduced so-called "sacred" records pertaining to his family.

    The records apparently list all the people in Jeffs’ household at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, in December 2004, including his wives, his children and their dates of birth.

    Jeffs — the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — objected to introduction of the records, claiming they were sacred, should remain secret and that his religious rights were being trampled.
    The 55-year-old leader of the FLDS said his 10,000 followers in the U.S. and Canada are good, moral people who do not abuse their children, and who educate and groom them well.

    Jeffs — who is accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15 — did not talk about underage marriage directly, or claim any special permission from God to take young girls as plural wives.
    On Thursday, Jeffs fired his team of high-profile attorneys, asked to represent himself, but then sat silently as prosecutors began to lay out evidence that includes an audiotape of one alleged assault on the 12-year-old girl. Prosecutors say they also have DNA evidence that Jeffs fathered a child with the 15-year-old girl.

    Jeffs had said he wanted to act as his own attorney so he could present a "pure defense."

    Walther reluctantly granted the request, but ordered the fired attorneys to remain on standby in case Jeffs decides to "reconsider this unwise decision."
    Prosecutors said they also will present evidence gathered from a Cadillac Escalade Jeffs was riding in when he was arrested in Nevada in 2006. That evidence includes an external hard drive believed to contain the audio recording of the alleged sexual assault on the 12-year-old girl.

  2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/08/01/polygamist-jeffs-trial.html [excerpt below]

    Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs made a third attempt Monday to remove the Texas judge overseeing his child sex assault case, this time claiming God himself demands a change.

    Jeff is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a group of self-described "fundamentalist Mormons," that includes the 1,000-member community of Bountiful near Creston, B.C.

    During his trial, he filed a motion purporting to quote God as saying state District Judge Barbara Walther should "step away from this abuse of power against a religious and pure faith in the Lord."

    Walther ruled the trial would continue. A hearing will eventually be held on Jeffs's motion, but it's unclear when.

    Jeffs is accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, he took as brides in "spiritual marriages." His church is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism that believes polygamy brings exaltation in Heaven, and followers see Jeffs as God's earthly spokesman.

    Forensic analyst Amy Smuts, of the Human Identification Center at the University of North Texas in Fort Worth, testified Monday that a DNA sample collected from Jeffs had 15 major markers that matched a sample taken from a girl born to the 15-year-old mother. Smuts said that made her more than 99.99 per cent certain that Jeffs fathered the child, who was born in October 2005.

    Monday's session ended in the late evening with lead prosecutor Eric Nichols showing a series of pictures where Jeffs was seen cuddling with, then kissing a red-head girl on the mouth. She had recently turned 12.

    see: http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.com/2008/05/creepy-photos-of-jailed-flds-sect.html

    The image caused some in the public to gasp, but there was no visible reaction among jurors. ...

  3. New Allegations Against FLDS Church: Former Police Chief Says He Feared Church Leaders

    By Dan Harris, Aristides Pinedo-Burns and Lauren Effron, ABC News, March 31, 2015

    A former police chief who served the twin towns that the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints dominates is coming forward for the first time, claiming he lived in fear that Warren Jeffs and other church leaders would take his family away if he didn’t do their bidding.

    “This community has always been a theocracy,” Helaman Barlow told ABC News' “Nightline” in an exclusive interview.

    For years, Barlow said he was the head of the marshals that patrol the twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah -- because the community straddles state lines they have town marshals. Barlow is now divulging what he says are church secrets to federal investigators, who are suing the local town governments, accusing them of being wholly controlled by the church. It’s a charge local officials in both towns deny.

    “To be a police officer in this community and to be hired by the marshal’s office is a calling from the church,” Barlow said. “You had to get permission to go to the police academy from the church.”

    Even though Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS Church, is serving a life sentence in prison for marrying and raping two 12-year-old girls, Barlow alleged that Jeffs still controls every aspect of life for most of the roughly 10,000 people who live in the community, from what they believe, to what they own, to who they marry, even what they eat.

    But now there is a small but growing movement to wrestle control away from Jeffs, and Barlow is one of the key players in doing that. Since leaving the church, Barlow has grown out his hair and grew a mustache, and now rides a motorcycle, all of which he said is to show he is in defiance of church rules.

    “It’s more of statement to show that I’m not with the church, I’m not with the Jeffs. I’m obviously out,” Barlow said. “For me, it was an outright overt act to show everyone I’m done with it. I’m done.”

    As the chief marshal, Barlow said his job was to “protect the church.” He joined the force 20 years ago and said he quickly learned that the marshals work hand-in-glove with FLDS Church security, known as “The God Squad,” who keep a close eye on outsiders.

    “They have a huge network of cameras in this community,” Barlow said. “They can watch every street.”

    Serving under Jeffs, the former chief said he was asked to do things he now regrets, but he isn't willing to publicly admit all of those things yet because he is still working on an immunity deal with federal investigators.

    In a deposition with the U.S. Department of Justice, Barlow stated that the marshals knew of widespread underage marriages in the community and didn’t do anything to stop it. Barlow also said he was asked by a city official to alter police reports.

    continued below

  4. In addition when Jeffs was on the run and listed as one of FBI’s “Most Wanted,” Barlow said he personally audio-taped conversations with law enforcement officials and then made them available to Jeffs.

    “I knew it was wrong, but it was a way for me to keep my value up,” Barlow said.

    Barlow said he lived in constant fear that the Jeffs could take his wife and kids away from him if he didn’t do what the prophet asked.

    “With one phone call, he could call me and say, ‘yeah, you’re out,’ and I would say, ‘I’m not going,’ but then he could call [my wife] and say, ‘he had no priesthood, he has to go, you have to leave him,’” Barlow said.

    He and his wife explained that it was the belief of the church that if the prophet told a wife to leave her husband and she refuses, then she has “spiritually murdered” her children.

    Barlow said he witnessed the church’s power firsthand in one particular case of a family being “out” -- Ron and Ginjer Cooke, two non-church members who moved to the community. They say that for six years they were subject to a relentless campaign of spying, vandalism and the refusal of local governments to give them basic utilities, such as power, water or sewage.

    “It’s like being terrorized,” Ginjer Cooke said. “You’re always on edge, ‘What’s going to happen next? What are they going to do?’ ... They are really good at driving people away. A lot of people leave.”

    But the Cookes didn’t leave, Ginjer said, because they wanted to stand up and fight for their right to live there.

    “I can’t let someone abuse my family like that,” she said. “You can’t teach [your kids] that it’s OK to let someone do something like that and get away with it.”

    The Cookes recently won a $5.6 million lawsuit against the local government, and they now have water and power. The local government denied the harassment, but now that Barlow is out of the church, he told a different story.

    “The Cookes were coming in against the wishes of the church, so if there was an opportunity to do something to either force them to leave or inconvenience them or discourage them, maybe they will go away,” he said. “They would do it, I would do it, at that time in the church, and any church member today would do it.”

    Barlow insists he did sometimes use his position to try and prevent persecution against non-members, specifically in the case of Willie Jessop, the former bodyguard and spokesman for Warren Jeffs, who very publicly quit after Jeffs confessed to marrying underage girls.

    “Mine was a terrible crisis of faith,” Jessop told “Nightline.” “I was very passionately defending Mr. Jeffs and the community ... but what I never saw coming, the shot that I got hit in the back with, was what he was doing in secrecy.”

    Leaving made Jessop a deeply unpopular man within the church. In his deposition with the Department of Justice, Barlow said he prevented his officers from charging Jessop with crimes he didn’t commit.

    It wasn’t only the things that he said he felt forced to do as chief, Barlow said, but it was also the increasingly arbitrary and strange rules being imposed by Warren Jeffs that made him and his wife question the church. Rules that included eating only beans for protein, then beans were suddenly forbidden, or only being allowed to turn on the bathroom faucet with the right hand, the “clean hand,” because the left was “dirty.”

    continued below

  5. The community the Barlows said is forbidden from reading newspapers or watching TV. They are only given information over the pulpit, they said.

    Finally, after years of doing Jeffs' bidding, Barlow decided to leave the church.

    “I stopped and realized that the religion that I was trying to go to, the church I was trying to attend, was nothing like the church that I was raised in, that I was born into, that I was married in,” Barlow said. “It was entirely different ... then I stopped and went, ‘why am I trying to go to a different church than I believe in? I’m done with that.’”

    The Barlows and their friends have been out now for about two years, and all agree their lives are much better than they were before when they were under the church’s eye.

    There are signs of hope emerging in the community, they say. A new public school, something Jeffs had once banned, has opened and now hundreds of children of former church members are getting a proper education. A new Subway restaurant opened. Property once controlled by the church is now being auctioned off. Willie Jessop purchased one of Jeff’s compounds and turned it into the “America’s Most Wanted” bed and breakfast.

    But many allege that the church still maintains control of the local governments, which town officials continue to deny. "Nightline" went to a town council meeting to confront the council and ask if it was controlled by the church. There, Hildale City Council Member Carlos Jessop said, "I personally deny that. I would hope you would give us the respect of allowing each person in this room their personal beliefs. ... We are here to serve the public."

    In a statement, the attorney for the local governments a denied that town officials are controlled by the church, and with regards to the former chief, Helaman Barlow, the attorney said, "We question his credibility, since he repeatedly lied under oath."

    Barlow admits he has perjured himself while defending the church in the past, but insists what he is saying now is true.

    Even though the community is changing, it is still very tense and very much divided. Barlow said he swings between being optimistic that the community will slowly join mainstream America and being darkly pessimistic about worst case scenarios, either through violence erupting from a church unwilling to relinquish control or from followers who feel betrayed.

    “When people do wake up like we did, when people realize, ‘hey this is broke and we got tricked, this isn’t real, yet this person or these people caused me to do this much hard to my own family,’ I think you cannot underestimate the kinds of emotions and anger and violence that is possible,” he said.


  6. Judge finds Warren Jeffs brothers in contempt

    The Associated Press April 9, 2015

    SALT LAKE CITY – A judge has found two brothers of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs in contempt of court for ignoring subpoenas in an investigation into suspected child labor violations on a Utah pecan farm.

    U.S. District Judge David Sam ruled Wednesday that Nephi and Lyle Jeffs have disobeyed subpoenas requiring them to answer questions from U.S. Department of Labor investigators.

    Federal authorities say the 2012 harvest was directed by the secretive sect and involved up to 1,400 child workers. They say Lyle Jeffs told church leaders to leave phone messages telling members' children to take days off school and work without pay.

    Sam ruled in January that the brothers could cite religious freedom and avoid some questions but ordered them to answer others.

    Defense attorney Kenneth Okazaki did not immediately return calls seeking comment



    KTRK-TV SALT LAKE CITY April 8, 2015

    A mother's desperate attempt to free her children from a polygamist compound came to an intense standoff.

    Sabrina Broadbent escaped the compound 8 years ago. After a long court battle, she obtained custody of her children.

    When she went back to the compound to get her children out, things turned tense.

    Flora Jessop, a former polygamist turned child abuse activist, told ABC 4 in Utah that 600 devout polygamist followers of former FLDS leader Warren Jeffs wouldn't oblige and surrounded the van Broadbent was in.

    "They were kicking her vehicle," said Jessop. "They were trying to put chickens in her vehicle. At one point they tried to put a cow in her car. They refused to bring the children out and give her her children."

    According to reports, 16 adults in the home banned Broadbent's children from leaving. It wasn't until reinforcements came that the kids were released and the standoff ended.

    Salt Lake City attorney Robert Hoole told ABC 4 that there has to be a change in the community.

    "We need to see law enforcement in that community that is legitimate that is not beholden to a religious leader and obeys the law," said Hoole.

    The drama did not end there. When Broadbent returned to her home in Joseph, Utah, she found someone had broken inside. At first, she blamed the polugamist sect.

    "They had broke every bit of furniture in their home, dog feces in every single room, magic marker on the walls," said Jessop. "They literally destroyed everything they had."

    The sheriff's department later learned it was Broadbent's own children who vandalized the home. The department says this is a struggle children face when they leave the compound.


  8. Recent events show Utah culture still supports polygamy

    By Victoria Prunty, Salt Lake Tribune April 10 2015

    I moved away from Utah several years ago, partly to get away from a culture that supported polygamy. Since that time, I have tried to keep a healthy distance from my past, except when it follows me.

    Yesterday I saw a city bus in my hometown advertising Moab: "Utah Life Elevated." Life elevated for whom? The beautiful scenic arch on the banner didn't portray my non-elevated status as a woman living in a manmade cave outside of Moab reading early Mormon history and preparing for plural marriage. Nor did it represent my experiences within mainstream Mormonism.

    (On a side note: I was one of those Mormon teenagers who learned in seminary that polygamy would come back and be lived on the earth.)

    According to "The Primer," a polygamy guidebook for Utah state service-providers, approximately 40 percent of the Mormon polygamy population consists of independent fundamentalist Mormons. Independent fundamentalists generally come out of the mainstream LDS Church after learning about doctrinal changes, such as abandoning plural marriage to keep church property. The other 60 percent of Mormon fundamentalists belong to polygamous groups whose original founder came out of the mainstream Mormon church. Basically, all of contemporary Mormon polygamy comes directly from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How ironic is it that the LDS Church continues to believe in the doctrine of plural marriage, not campaign against it (like they do gay marriage) and then excommunicate their members for practicing it. In fact, Utah has decriminalized polygamy without so much as a peep from the LDS Church. So, if this is "Utah Life Elevated," it is only for preferential men living there.

    A monogamous couple within the LDS religion makes typical day-to-day decisions together, such as where to live and who plays what role in the marriage. For some, male priesthood is nothing more than a status symbol. For example, I have heard it said, "Oh, priesthood is only because the man needs to feel special. We know who really makes the decisions."

    continued below

  9. In polygamy, there is no pretending because priesthood power is in full force. Plural wives have different personalities, wants and needs, and as the ultimate decision maker, the polygamist husband must flex his almighty priesthood muscle. In order not to seem like he is favoring one wife over another, he uses God/prayer/casting out demons/rallying the priesthood to make the final family decisions. This same inequality may happen in Mormon monogamy, yet it is not built into the marriage like it is in polygamy.

    Whereas intimacy (more than the act of sex) is achievable in a monogamous relationship, polygamy can only function through the use of power and control. The reason women stay in polygamy is because they are taught that they must follow the priesthood in order to merit exaltation. All Mormons know the threat of being "destroyed" that Emma Smith received in D&C 132. This is coercion at its very finest. After more information was made available from the LDS Church about early Mormon polygamy, Mormon leaders have had to do damage control. Last Saturday LDS leaders announced at their biannual conference support for marriage "between a man and a woman." To say the least, the message from LDS Church leaders about marriage has been conflicting, and it never tackles the important issues of gender inequality in Mormonism, abusive dynamics of power and control that are built into priesthood/polygamy, and how the history of polygamy rolls over into contemporary times.

    People are up in arms about the discrimination laws in Indiana, yet Indiana doesn't have squat over Utah when it comes to protecting religious freedom. One of the main proponents initiating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is Sen. Orrin Hatch. So, when the "Sister Wives" lawsuit went to a federal Utah court and a (Mormon) judge decriminalized polygamy using the First Amendment clause, saying the Browns should have the right to privacy and cohabitation (not that the Brown family live together or seem overly concerned about privacy on their reality show), it was a reminder of why I left Utah. Not even a scenic billboard would entice me back!

    Victoria Prunty was a co-founder and director of Tapestry Against Polygamy in Salt Lake City. She lives in Sacramento, Calif.