On the EDge: Still no justice for FLDS kids

OPINION — The children continue to get the worst of it in the polygamous fundamentalist Mormon community on the Utah-Arizona state line.

We’ve known this, unfortunately, for a while; however, the point was driven home again last week in paperwork filed with the 5th District Juvenile Court in St. George by Charlene Wall Jeffs.

Jeffs, 58, has filed for divorce from Lyle Jeffs, who took over the day-to-day operations of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when his brother, Warren Jeffs – the self-proclaimed prophet of the church – was sentenced to a life-plus sentence in Texas on multiple charges of child rape.

Charlene Jeffs was the first of Lyle Jeffs’ nine wives, the only one he was legally married to, with the remainder taken as so-called “spiritual wives.”

Charlene is also asking the court for custody of the couple’s two youngest children – a 14-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son – because of church practices she described as “illegal.”

According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, the documents “discuss life in the FLDS under her husband and his imprisoned brother, Warren Jeffs – from restrictive diets to sexual policies that she refers to as rape.”

Of course, that’s not news to those familiar with the fundamentalist sect.


Read more: On the EDge: FLDS kids pawns in tug of war


We know, for example, that Warren Jeffs is not the only one in that community to think there is nothing wrong with taking an underage child as a bride, that others share his perversion. We know that “bleeding the beast” – the act of defrauding the government, whether at the federal, state or local levels – is part of the lifestyle.

We know that women’s rights are nonexistent, a fact Charlene Jeffs addresses in court documents saying, according to The Trib: “Of Lyle’s multiple wives, I was never the favorite because I have a mind of my own. Lyle sent me away from the family to repent for the first time in November 2002 because ‘I did not know how to properly treat the Priesthood in my life.’ ”

For the uninitiated, the Priesthood refers to the men in the FLDS faith, to whom women must succumb in this life and the next. The reason FLDS women grow their hair so long, according to church doctrine, is so they can unravel it and use it to wash the feet of their husbands when they reach the Celestial Kingdom, where they will, for eternity, pump out spirit babies to return to the Earth.

What is shocking is that the wealth of evidence about what goes on out there in the twin cities, commonly referred to as Short Creek – Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona – was ignored by Judge Paul Dame, who ruled that the children were in no imminent danger and refused to place them in the custody of their mother or into protective custody. Instead, he set a date for oral arguments to discuss the allegations.

By then, as Charlene Jeffs says, those kids could be hidden away in FLDS communities in Pringle, South Dakota, any one of several church locations in rural Colorado, or spirited away to fundamentalist enclaves in western Canada or one of several communes in Mexico.

We know of the recent incident where the 17-year-old daughter of former FLDS member Ron Rohbock, who was extricated from Short Creek by authorities, was kidnapped in broad daylight from a strip mall in Mesquite by fundamentalists.


Read more: Polygamy tug-of-war: Hildale man … battles child custody nightmare


We know of 11 other men who went to jail in Texas for sexually abusing little girls they took as spiritual wives at the Eldorado compound.

We know of the case of Fredrick Merril Jessop, a 79-year-old church elder in this sect, who not only turned over as many as 11 of his daughters to Warren Jeffs but performed the spiritual marriage of his 12-year-old daughter to this pedophile.

We know of the conviction of former cop Rodney Holm, who took an underage wife.

We know of Warren Jeffs placing the then-14-year-old Elissa Wall into marriage with her cousin.

We also know of several deaths that have occurred when young boys were working illegally or with heavy machinery they were neither old enough nor licensed to operate.

Yet, this judge has ruled that these children are in no imminent danger.

What will it take for those who can truly make a difference to intervene?

What more needs to be presented to the court?

Perhaps the fact that at one point Warren Jeffs issued an edict from his prison cell that all of the women and children in his following were restricted to a diet of beans and water? Perhaps the fact that Warren Jeffs issued an edict from his prison cell that banned all but 15 men – whom he named – from having sexual relations with their wives and that these men had their pick of any fertile females in the community to procreate with?

Justice has not been served in this case.

But, we have grown accustomed to the Utah courts turning a blind eye to the evil perpetuated upon the women and children of this polygamous fundamentalist group.

In her statement to the court, Charlene Jeffs says that she has been “excluded” from the lives of these two children for three years.

All because, she said, she had a mind of her own.

It is time for us to see judges with minds of their own who are willing to buck the Utah system and bring justice to the aggrieved and injured because they happened, by the unfortunate luck of birth, to be born into a group that has a history of heaping emotional, physical and spiritual trauma on innocent women and children. They are the unwitting victims.

All it takes is a judge with courage.

And, a mind of his own.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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40 Comments

  • Real Life April 27, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Why has a blind eye been turned for so long while children are being raped, right down the road from here? Is it money? Is it politics? Is it because they read from the book of Mormon?

    • fun bag April 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Yep it’s a mormon thing. If they address the issue rather than just ignoring it, it would mean they would have to address the history of the mormon cult and polygamy, and the power players here in UT would rather keep all that dirty laundry out of public discussion. Bizarre place this is…

      • AnotherReader April 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

        Fun bag never ceased to amaze with his inane comments. The Mormon history of polygamy ended 100+ years ago, and did not involve or revolve around underage girls. Get your facts straight. That same history is obviously not a big secret, among Mormons and non-Mormons, so your insinuation is pure foolishness. There is one excessively large chip sitting on your shoulder Air Bag. Life would be dramatically better for the rest of us if you were to stop slinging that chip around. It only proves to others what a moron you are.

        • fun bag April 27, 2015 at 8:14 pm

          Poor baby I hope u don’t cry too hard aha. Fact is the cult up there at short creek is living by Brigham and Joseph’s teachings, like it or not. Basically they are more mormon that the modern LDS cult… don’t cry too hard 😀

          • AnotherReader April 29, 2015 at 6:50 pm

            No cryin’ here Gas Bag; just like pointing out the fool you are. I get to do it so often.

        • beentheredonethat May 1, 2015 at 8:10 pm

          ALL Mormons cheat on their spouses. Get YOUR facts straight!

  • Sherrell April 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    I was never happier than my childhood in the FLDS.
    I suspect the same is true for most everyone who is still there.
    Most outsiders with an opinion speak out of an orifice that isn’t pleasant.
    .

    • Real Life April 28, 2015 at 8:48 am

      Yeah Sherrell, I’m sure the twelve year old forced child brides are having an absolutely wonderful upbringing.

      • fun bag April 28, 2015 at 11:03 am

        Well, if the prophet is happy everyone is happy, right?

        • Free Parking April 29, 2015 at 8:52 am

          Uh well yeah I be a figurrin that a be a might pertin near jusssst right

    • Free Parking April 30, 2015 at 9:54 am

      So you liked being abused and forced to have sex and perform disgusting acts with the other wives… You’re disgusting

  • maggie April 28, 2015 at 8:32 am

    I only hope that you follow through with this thinking Ed when we are dealing with all the Muslims that the Obama administration is bringing to the USA.

    • fun bag April 28, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Better hide them guns, Mags!

  • Hugh Jass April 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Do you really think it would be any different if a Muslim community was where Short Creek is? Muslim women and children are also treated with contempt and the crimes against them are also obvious and egregious, just as they are in the FLDS. I’m not saying the crimes are the same, but they are just as horrendous. And nobody does anything about them either. It’s not about Mormon or non-Mormon or the fact that the legislature in this state is predominantly Mormon. That argument is for people who are too lazy to really think thru the unintended consequences. It’s easier to blame the “establishment” than turn their brain on and really come up with a viable solution…

    • fun bag April 28, 2015 at 11:01 am

      muslims and flds/lds have a lot in common in terms of religious brainwashing…

    • maggie April 28, 2015 at 11:05 am

      I don’t think it would be any different with Muslims but Ed might because Obama is bringing them into this country . Ed loves Obama and well,not so much LDS.

      • Free Parking April 29, 2015 at 8:48 am

        Yeah I’m sure Ed is the only one that doesn’t think much of the LDS community

    • sagemoon April 28, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Good point.

  • Sapphire April 28, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Don’t mean to sound insensitive, but I was just reading some statistics and half the teens in our schools have had sex before they graduate and 1 in 10 send nude photos of themselves out to social media. Today’s youth are not angels and even the best homes have kids that are pretty disgusting. At least these polygamous girls are married and have kids in a family situation instead of aborting them, throwing them in dumpsters, or keeping them so they get welfare and don’t have to work. Not to take away from the choice issue, but kids are still having sex and exposing themselves to others whether they are FLDS or not.

    • fun bag April 28, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      “At least these polygamous girls are married and have kids in a family situation”

      u retarded?

    • Real Life April 28, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      You are joking, right? You really can not be that stupid, right? Please say you are joking, or my head is going to explode from one of the dumbest, no THE dumbest comment I have ever read.

    • Simone April 28, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Sapphire, I don’t even know where to begin, there are so many things wrong with your post. The problem with the “Polygamists” in Hildale and other areas is that MEN there marry CHILDREN! I’m talking about ADULT MEN marrying little girls as young as 10 or 12. That’s not normal, that’s just sick.

      I hope I’m wrong but your post reads like you are trying to justify the actions of those types of people. To be clear, It reads like you are attempting to justify a ADULT marrying a CHILD for the simple fact that, to use your words, “kids are still having sex and exposing themselves to others whether they are FLDS or not”.

      To me, that’s the same as saying that it’s okay to rape a woman because she was walking down the street. Be honest now, does that sound a good excuse to you?

      I hope not.

      • Sapphire April 30, 2015 at 2:22 pm

        I see your point. I am just as disgusted with the Jeffs group as you are. But not all polygamists behave this way. Just a perverted group of them. So group hating is what I am commenting about. And also a reminder that teens are not necessarily all that innocent… mainstream teens have a 50/50 chance of choosing to have sex or getting themselves in a bad situation where that happens. Not being a polygamist doesn’t guarantee that you are moral or will not get yourself in trouble. There are societies where teen marriages are acceptable. In fact I may be wrong, but even the Catholics have an age 14 with parental consent. Shall we hate all Catholics?

        • Simone May 3, 2015 at 11:18 am

          Good. In my opinion the “Polygamists” in Hildale, Colorado City and other similar places are unworthy of the title. Polygamy, to me, is defined as marriage between two or more consenting adults. A few of my friends are involved in such relationships and I fully support them in it.

  • SSTEED April 28, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    “Keep Sweet No Matter What: It’s a matter of life or death”. That was the mantra of my childhood. You could see it as a suppression of emotions but it came with other teachings that to me; makes it mean that: you need to find the good in every situation. That’s the Keep Sweet part. The rest is about intuition and how its there for you when you need it; but only if you develop it and learn how to interact with it. Appreciating each situation, be it a chance to grow or time to rest and relax; goes hand in hand with developing intuition. and that is what gives that sentence its power. It looks like a tactic to scare you into being happy (in our culture that sounds about normal); but it doesn’t always turn out to be what it looks like from here. I don’t know what it is that we have done to piss you off Ed but I’m sorry. I also don’t know what that list of things “we know” has to do with these children. Are you just saying that because I’m black? I mean: A Hildale man? It seems like you love to bang on the pligs; but in the interest of stretching oneself, I challenge you to do a positive piece. Surly with all the research you have done on these people you have come across one good one.

  • Free Parking April 29, 2015 at 8:50 am

    I SUPPORT GLOBAL WARMING

  • Sapphire April 29, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I am not stupid, I just get tired of bigotry of the comments. To set the record straight, I do NOT like polygamy, or lack of choice, or forced or coerced anything because I grew up free to choose. I do NOT like predators whether they are polygamist predators or internet predators, family predators or any other kind of predator. But there is nothing about mainstream non-polygamous life that is so perfect. Any minor who needs a hand up and out of abuse should get it. But all teens are not innocent waifs either. I think we need to stop bashing every individual polygamist just because they think and live differently. Not all polygamists are bad horrible abusive people. Jeffs twisted a lifestyle into a nightmare for his followers. It is evident that many are slowly trying to separate their faith in God and perception of His plan for them from this man who deceived them. This was a good article on the failure of our mainstream system to deal with this particular situation. My issue is the bigotry and the supposition that every polygamist must be miserable, unhappy, and “saved” by the mainstream who have their own problems and self destructive practices.

    • Real Life April 29, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      Wow. I guess you are stupid. If I am a “bigot” because I dislike child molesters, then call me a “bigot” all you want. If the word “bigot” is tagged now, with anybody who dislikes anybody, then color me bad against guys who wish to have sex with their twelve year old nieces.

      • Sapphire May 1, 2015 at 5:00 pm

        The news usually has Christians who are child molesters… therefore all Christians are evil too?

    • fun bag April 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

      what sapphire is doing is rationalizing, trying to justify in his own mind the criminal acts of plygs corrupt lifestyle and trying to make them seem ok…

  • Sapphire April 30, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Americans are really ignorant. According to the New World Encyclopedia (online), the marital composition of 1231 societies, from 1960-1980, 186 societies were monogamous, 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and seven had polyandry. Americans are terrible at being monogamous… hence the cheating, divorce, shacking up, prostitutes, porn and and gay lifestyles. The fact remains that not all polygamists are bad people. Not all polygamists rape little girls. Not all polygamists marry teens against their will. Not all polygamists have arranged marriages. Not all polygamists force young girls to marry old men. There are people out there that actually enjoy living in a large plural family and are respectable, responsible and loving. A bigot is simply someone who hates cultures/people who don’t think the way they do. As you can see by statistics, monogamy is actually the minority on this planet. I am not rationalizing… this is facts vs fiction. Here is another little tidbit: The lowest divorce rates in the world are in cultures with high rates of arranged marriages such as Amish culture of United States (1%), Hindus of India (3%), and Ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel (7%). In contrast, over 50% of self-arranged marriages in many parts of Europe and United States end up in divorce. I am a senior, so I have known a lot of divorced people. And almost all of them divorced because of cheating or being tired of their spouses (boredom, meanness, molestation, etc). I was trying to make a simple point. Polygamy does not equal a bad person. Not all polygamist males are evil. Not all polygamist women have been abused or taken advantage of. And obviously there are many cultures in the world that are different from American culture… we are just too narrow-minded to see anything other than what we know. Just because I am not a polygamist doesn’t mean I have to bash everyone that is. We are all God’s children, we all share this planet, and no one gets through this life without mistakes, so why persecute everyone with the guilty? Instead get mad at the system that doesn’t do its job of protection from the guilty.

    • Roy J April 30, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Yeah, SAPPHIRE, but the simple and obvious point here is that polygamy is morally wrong and damages every human being involved at a deep level. That polygamy is anti-Christian is a well known and well argued fact. You start seeing polygamy every time someone pulls a Sola Scriptura, or starts promulgating a personal message from the Holy Spirit which told him to become a Hebrew. Catharists and the Muenster Rebellion come to mind…the abhorrence of polygamy is a good sign that the United States is still fundamentally Christian at least in regards to some things.

      • Sapphire May 1, 2015 at 4:54 pm

        Polygamy may be morally wrong to you but not to a polygamist? Not all polygamists are damaged, and they are even in the Bible! God made all these other people on the earth, too, not just Christians, so how can we judge? It’s not like the world was created Christian and others strayed from it. God created diversity. Kindness, love, and peace can radiate from anyone and being a Christian certainly doesn’t guarantee that. Sadly, I know very few Christians who are truly moral people in spite of all the chest beating about how chosen they are.

        • Roy J May 2, 2015 at 10:47 am

          SAPPHIRE,
          You seem to have a lot of confused notions in there. It’s obvious that the Hebrews practiced polygamy. Somebody who ignores the teachings of the Church Fathers on this subject can easily attempt to reintroduce polygamy as a Christian social structure. However, that polygamy is not a part of general Christian society; that it has been abhorrent to nearly every Christian who has ever lived ; that Christians have fought violently against polygamist sects ever since the Ascension is obvious to anybody who has spent any time at all studying Christian history. On the other hand, if you think that all moral systems are the same, and only quibble over unimportant ‘venal’ sins, or theological abstractions, I don’t know what to tell you except that you’re wrong. The conclusion of holding that there are some good actions is that there must be some absolute moral standard; otherwise good has no meaning. Ignoring this conclusion is just means you’re playing semantical games, not thinking logically, or not thinking at all.

    • fun bag April 30, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      so what your saying is… should of took a cab..?…

      • sagemoon May 1, 2015 at 8:34 am

        Yep, a cab is always the best option in any circumstance.

      • Roy J May 1, 2015 at 9:22 am

        HAHAHA! Yes. XD

  • fun bag May 1, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    another thing we see in little plyg enclaves like short creek are abnormalities caused by inbreeding. Just another reason why the same inbred hillbilly shouldn’t be breeding with multiple women.

  • beentheredonethat May 1, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I was married to a Mormon. Stole money from me…….cheated on me………..Ended that (quickly) and never looked back. There is NO difference between LDS and FLDS.
    The LDS just have multiple partners but they dont get multiple marriages.

    • fun bag May 3, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Some of the most promiscuous girls I ever met played the role of the sweet little LDS girl on sundays. I find it hilarious…

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