'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

August 7, 2011

Mormon pedophile polygamist, Warren Jeffs, guilty of raping girls for God

Chain the Dogma    August 7, 2011

Mormon pedophile polygamist, Warren Jeffs, guilty of raping girls for God

He argued that religious freedom gave him the right to rape girls

by Perry Bulwer

It is no surprise that Warren Jeffs was found guilty  by a Texas jury for child sexual assault, given the overwhelming evidence  against him. Eleven other men in his FLDS cult were also charged with similar crimes and all seven of those who have been prosecuted so far were also found guilty  and given lengthy prison sentences. In fact, nothing about this case surprises me.

I am not surprised by Jeffs antics in the courtroom in his latest trial. Once captured and presented with solid evidence against him, he knew he had almost no chance to escape punishment through the legal system. Forced to face reality for the first time in his life, he momentarily awoke from his religious delusion and admitted to being an immoral, spiritual fraud. That jailhouse confession  in phone calls to his family members reveals a broken man who, realizing how wicked he has been, not only renounces his claim to being a prophet, but even attempts suicide.

Jeffs would later recant that confession and retake control of his cult from prison, but for that brief moment the curtain was drawn back and the world, though not most of his followers, saw the true nature of that evil man. Apologists (see jailhouse confession link above) have tried to downplay Jeffs' admission of immoralities with a sister and a daughter by saying that the FLDS standard of immorality is different than society's, insinuating that it was not incest he was admitting to. However, at Jeffs' sentencing hearing  his niece

... described an incident that allegedly occurred between her and Jeffs when she was 7 years old. "He made me sit on his lap," she testified, and did "inappropriate things to me." She was crying so hard at one point that the prosecutor stopped questioning. Neither side pressed her for details. CNN is withholding the niece's name because she is the alleged victim of a sexual assault.  

It is fairly safe to assume, as CNN has done by withholding her name, that she was describing sexual molestation, if not rape. At the same hearing, Warren Jeffs nephew, Brent Jeffs, testified that his uncle raped him when he was five years old. Brent had previously revealed that in his book, Lost Boy, as well as in public interviews, in a lawsuit against his uncle, and in an affidavit  submitted to the Canadian court considering the constitutionality of the anti-polygamy law. Jeffs was well aware of all the evidence the state had against him because he attempted many times to have that evidence rejected. So, knowing he had no defence other than his ridiculous claim that religious freedom gave him the right to rape little girls, Jeffs simply used the legal process and the courtroom as a pulpit, further consolidating control over his followers.

I am not surprised that Jeffs claimed religious persecution and tried to use the religious freedom defence after firing all of his lawyers. Most people are mistaken about the concept of religious freedom, thinking it gives them the right to not only believe anything they want, but to act on those beliefs. However, it is not an absolute right that allows all religious behaviour. As the U.S. Supreme Court famously said:

Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.

Religious freedom necessarily includes the right to be free from religion otherwise it is an empty right, and it is also a right that children have. Jeffs' claim that religious freedom gives him the right to rape girls is one of the more extreme versions of the argument. Faith healing parents who claim religious freedom to let their children die  from treatable conditions without any medical care is another example of religious extremism that denies religious freedom to children. But mainstream and moderate religious leaders and believers, not just fundamentalists, fringe sects and cults, also frequently appeal to their right to religious freedom while denying the same right to their children, so they should not feel smug in their criticisms of Jeffs and the FLDS.

Perhaps the most common example of denying religious freedom to children is the indoctrination of young people (kids are people too!) before they have a chance to form their own opinions. For religious freedom to have any meaning for adults, it must be protected for children. If a child becomes so indoctrinated by a particular dogma that it becomes almost impossible for her to break out of that indoctrination as an adult, then her freedom to choose her own religion has been violated and denied. In order for adults to have the freedom to exercise their religious autonomy, they must as children have the right to an open future. God experts know this all to well, which is why they specifically target little children for proselytizing, to ensure they have future congregations they can exploit. As a Jesuit famously said, "Give me the child until he is seven, and I will give you the man", which is a paraphrasing of Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." At least that's what they hope.

Adult believers value religious freedom for themselves and would reject any attempt to force dogma on them, yet they do not hesitate to do that to their children. This is the great hypocrisy surrounding religious freedom, parents supposedly having a greater right to that freedom than their children, which may be the main reason why the United States, one of the most religious countries in the world, is also the only one (Somalia is a failed state) not to have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But I think the opposite is true. I think that all conflicts between parental and children's religious rights should be decided in favour of children. They are the more vulnerable party and their right to an open future can be completely denied them by zealous parents, preachers, teachers and priests who think it is perfectly acceptable to manipulate immature minds. In my opinion, proselytizing and indoctrinating little children with religious dogma is a sign of a weak, irrational ideology that only uninformed, gullible adults and naive, innocent children can be convinced to believe. It is a form of entrapment that captures and enslaves the mind of a child before they gain the maturity and critical thinking skills to resist such psychological manipulation.

Finally, I am not surprised that several Mormon fundamentalist groups that practice polygamy only denounced Jeffs after he was convicted.  Statements by those groups, quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune, indicate that they only became alarmed, shocked, horrified after hearing the new evidence that has surfaced in this latest trial.

The Principle Rights Coalition (PRC) — representing five polygamous churches, along with others who practice polygamy but are unaffiliated with any church — called the sexual abuse of children "reprehensible."

"As new evidence has surfaced in Texas ... we are alarmed that such depravity could have been perpetrated by anyone," according to the statement.

"While we understand that horrific abuse can occur in any part of society, it is especially devastating to discover that sexual assault of young children may have occurred behind the false pretense of a religious ideology," the statement says.
An accompanying statement by the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) said they were "shocked and horrified" by what has been revealed during Jeffs’ trial.

What took them so long? And even with the conviction, it sounds as if they still are not sure child sex crimes happened: "...sexual assault of young children may have occurred...". Jeffs was arrested in 2006. Even before his capture while on he run from law enforcement, the allegations of child sex crimes were well known. Since 2007 there has been steady stream of publications in both the U.S. and Canada detailing the crimes by Jeffs and other FLDS leaders: newspaper  and magazine articles, books  and documentaries  by survivors, affidavits and court videos and transcripts, and more. Furthermore, this was not Jeffs first trial. Much of the evidence in this one was already public knowledge, having been submitted in previous trials and hearings. It seems to me that the Mormon polygamists now condemning Jeffs were engaged in wilful blindness to the crimes and abuses committed by one of their own. If they were really concerned for the children in Jeffs sect they could have denounced him long ago, but they didn't so their public relations statements now appear disingenuous, designed to protect the practice of polygamy from state interference rather than protect children from religious interference. I am not surprised.


Mormon polygamist who pleaded no contest to child bride sex assault appeals conviction based on search warrant


  1. Polygamist leader sentenced to life in prison

    AUGUST 9, 2011
    Paul J. Weber Associated Press

    SAN ANGELO, TEXAS—Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his church deemed “spiritual marriages.” The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stood quietly as the decision of the Texas jury was read Tuesday. He received the maximum sentence on both counts.

    Prosecutor Eric Nichols had asked the jury for a life sentence, saying the case was “a prosecution to protect people.” Jurors deliberated less than half an hour. The 55-year-old Jeffs, who had insisted on acting as his own attorney during the earlier part of the trial, was convicted Thursday. He walked out of the sentencing phase in protest after reading a statement Friday that he claimed was from God, promising a “whirlwind of judgment” on the world if God’s “humble servant” wasn’t set free.

    During the trial, prosecutors used DNA evidence to show Jeffs fathered a child with a 15-year-old and played an audio recording of what they said was him sexually assaulting a 12-year-old. They played other tapes in which Jeffs was heard instructing as many as a dozen of his young wives on how to please him sexually — and thus, he told them, please God.

    “If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree,” Jeffs wrote in 2005, according to one of thousands of pages of notes seized along with the audio recordings from his Texas ranch.

    Jeffs claimed his religious rights were being violated. Representing himself after burning through seven high-powered attorneys, he routinely interrupted the proceedings and chose to stand silently in front of jurors for nearly half an hour during his closing arguments. He called just one defence witness, a church elder who read from Mormon scripture. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism that believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven, has more than 10,000 followers who consider Jeffs to be God’s spokesman on Earth.

    He spent years evading arrest — criss-crossing the country as a fugitive who eventually made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list before his capture in 2006, said lead prosecutor Eric Nichols. Several former members of the church have testified that Jeffs ruled the group with a heavy and abusive hand. Jeffs also allegedly excommunicated 60 church members he saw as a threat to his leadership, breaking up 300 families while stripping them of property and “reassigning” wives and children.

    In an audiotape played during the sentencing phase, Jeffs was heard softly telling five young girls to “set aside all your inhibitions” as he gave them instructions on how to please him sexually. Jeffs is heard telling the girls that what “the five of you are about to do is important.”

    Prosecutors suggested that the polygamist leader told the girls they needed to have sex with him — in what Jeffs called “heavenly” or “celestial” sessions — in order to atone for sins in his community. Several times in his journals, Jeffs wrote of God telling him to take more and more young girls as brides “who can be worked with and easily taught.”

    FBI agent John Broadway testified that fathers who gave their young daughters to Jeffs were rewarded with young brides of their own. Girls who proved reluctant to have sex with Jeffs were sent away, according to excerpts from Jeffs’ journals that prosecutors showed to the jury.

  2. Jeffs may keep grip on FLDS despite conviction

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/08/10/national/main20090527.shtml (AP)

    SALT LAKE CITY - A polygamous sect leader whose followers believe he is a prophet who speaks directly with God is likely to continue to lead his church from behind bars after being sentenced to life in prison on child sex assault charges. Followers of Jeffs' Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are likely not to be swayed from their belief in him, despite evidence that he had sex with girls from the isolated sect as young as 12, former church members and experts say. Jeffs, 55, was sentenced by a Texas jury Tuesday and will not be eligible for parole until he is at least 100 years old.

    "The vast majority are just not going to leave," Atlanta-based polygamy historian and writer Ken Driggs said. "They've got family ties and marriage ties and a culture deeply rooted in their faith." There was no mass exodus in 2007 after Jeffs' was convicted on Utah sex assault charges. As he spent almost five years in various jails, Jeffs continued to spiritually direct the faith, counsel followers and lead Sunday services by phone.

    Jeff's legal grip on the church remains strong. Last week, the Utah Department of Commerce reaffirmed Jeffs as the head of the corporations that make up the FLDS after a church bishop unsuccessfully sought to seize control. Commerce officials said William E. Jessop ultimately failed to prove he was ordained by the previous prophet to control the church.

    Elissa Wall, a former FLDS member and the victim in Utah's 2007 case, called Jeffs' Texas conviction and life sentence a "true miracle." Even so, she believes that followers have been so indoctrinated in the faith that most will likely remain faithful, believing that Jeffs is God's spokesman on Earth and their path to salvation. "The vast majority will stay," Wall said, but added that the sentencing could spark change. "Now we can really begin to focus on liberating these people and freeing their minds from the mental shackles that Warren Jeffs has put on them," Wall told The Associated Press.
    Wall said it is unlikely church members even know much about the Texas case and the evidence against Jeffs. He has banned television and all books except scripture. He has counseled members against reading newspapers or using the Internet. "They probably have zero contact with the outside world. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't know yet," Wall said. "And if they do know, I'm sure they are being blamed for this verdict. It's their fault ... they weren't faithful and obedient enough." Wall said many parents may believe it to be an honor, the holiest of privileges, to have their young daughters selected by Jeffs for marriage. "That religious power is ten times more powerful than anything else," Wall said.

    Willie Jessop, Jeffs' former spokesman, said the FLDS community remains in denial but that Jeffs' conviction could be the "beginning of a crisis."
    There is a history of the devout — across various religions — remaining loyal to their faith even in the face of serious crimes, said Philip Jenkins, a professor of humanities at Penn State University. "It fits very well into the scholarly literature on failed messiahs," he said. "Maybe all the charges were bogus, or maybe all the things he was doing were done as some prophecy." ...

  3. Time Magazine: Q&A - Warren Jeffs' Nephew Speaks Out on Verdict http://healthland.time.com/2011/08/10/qa-warren-jeffs-nephew-speaks-out-on-verdict-sexual-abuse/

    Did you have a chance to confront Warren yourself?
    I actually got to walk right up to him and say, 'You finally got what you deserved.' He just looked at me and looked down at the ground and they hauled him off. It was awesome! Talk about closure.
    They had just put shackles on his feet and hands, and to see him come out with shackles on his feet. I thought, Man, you know what, you had your time. Now it's time for you to have justice served and you're going to see what it feels like to suffer.
    [But] when all of the witnesses came to testify [during the sentencing phase], he couldn't face anybody. He was put out into a room in the hall. I don't know if they had audio, but he couldn't face us.

    What do you want to tell other survivors of sexual abuse?
    There's a lot of healing on a lot of different levels. I think there are three levels of healing. The first is to recognize what you went through and how you feel. Second would be going to see someone for therapy, to try to get rid of all that pain and baggage. And last, if at all possible, is to face that person and either have justice served or be able to say what you want to them. For me, that was like the chapter was done, it was very cool.

    Were you able to attend much of the trial?
    I was filled in on what was going on and I was able to sit in the courtroom when they were doing the closing arguments and for the verdict.
    How did you feel when the verdict came down?
    Oh, my God! I knew it, I had a feeling about it. I knew that the jury was only out for 30 minutes and then they came back with guilty, guilty, guilty, all the way around. I thought, Finally, everyone can see what kind of monster this guy really is. I felt 10 feet tall walking out of that courtroom.

    How did your family respond?
    They're all extremely relieved and proud of me and of everything I've done and stood up for. I called my family and they put me on speakerphone and I said, 'I did this for us, not just for me, but for all his victims, anyone who he's ever hurt.' I powered through it all because this is something that matters to everyone who he hurt.

    What's the important thing for people who are suffering from sexual abuse to do?
    For me, the biggest thing was recognizing it and talking about it. You don't have to talk about it with everybody, but find somebody or even a few people to talk to. Maybe talk to others who have been victimized as well. Share your story and have them talk back to you. Don't feel like you're the only one this happened to and beat yourself up. That was huge for me. It did take a long time. I took my time. You don't need to rush into anything. I went [to therapy] for a couple of years and I remember finally going in one last time and saying, This monster is off of my back. This anger and sadness, all of this finally melted away. That's what helped me to do the book and talk on TV.
    I knew that I was a survivor and I knew in my heart that it wasn't my fault, and I could stand tall. That just empowers everyone else to stand up for themselves, too.

    What would you say to someone considering leaving the FLDS? read the rest at the link above

  4. Warren Jeffs child-bride lawsuit halted, trial may be cancelled

    Judge issued a stay in the case until the Utah Supreme Court rules.

    By Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune July 01, 2014

    Though a judge issued a stay Tuesday which halted proceedings in a near-decade old lawsuit that pits a former child bride against a polygamous trust run by the state of Utah, a January 2015 trial date for the civil case stands — at least for now.

    In May, the Utah Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in the MJ v. Warren Jeffs case, where attorneys will argue whether a polygamous trust should be held liable for what happened when a 14-year-old girl was forced to marry.

    "MJ" is Elissa Wall, who is suing the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, its imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs, and the United Effort Plan.

    Third District Judge Keith Kelly ruled Tuesday that it was appropriate to halt proceedings in the civil case until the Supreme Court rules on the issue, which will likely take several years. But the judge told attorneys that he was hesitant to issue the stay, because UEP’s assets could be dispersed by the time a new trial date could be set — leaving no money for Wall if a jury rules in her favor.

    Ultimately, Kelly issued a temporary stay, and did not immediately cancel next year’s trial. He opted instead to set an Aug. 19 hearing where he will hear from attorneys and then decide on an appropriate bond or security amount that will ensure assets will still be available after trial. If UEP does not wish to post a security amount, Kelly said the stay will be lifted, and trial will go forward in January as scheduled.

    Wall is seeking $30 million to $40 million from the trust and other defendants. But only the United Effort Plan is defending the lawsuit and is presumably the only defendant with any assets to pay a judgment.

    Wall was raised in the polygamous FLDS. She was 14 when she was forced to marry her 21-year-old cousin Allen Steed. Jeffs helped arrange the union.

    Wall later left the marriage. Jeffs was charged in state court in St. George with rape as an accomplice. Wall’s testimony helped convict him in 2007, and Jeffs received a sentence of life in prison. But in 2010, the Utah Supreme Court overturned the verdict due to faulty jury instructions.

    In 2011, Jeffs, 58, was convicted in Texas of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, he took as spiritual wives. He is now serving a life prison sentence.

    Steed was later charged with sex crimes in Utah, but the criminal case was settled in 2011 when Steed entered a plea in abeyance to a reduced charge and served 30 days in jail.