April 11th, 2008
04:22 PM ET

Finally, Taking Care of the Innocent Victims

I am grateful today to so many individuals and groups. Thank you to the State of Texas and the city of El Dorado for having the guts to go in and intervene in behalf of the children of YFZ.

For too long, government has turned a blind eye to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and its activities. Abuse to children inside this destructive group has gone on for years without any repercussions.

Many of us feared that the raid would go down poorly as in the 1953 raid on Shortcreek, but El Dorado authorities continue to handle it well. I wish that Arizona and Utah would step up and do the same.

I also am grateful to the women who have come forward. People like Elissa and Teresa Wahl and this young girl from inside the YFZ compound deserve our praise. Others who have been a voice for the children—women such as Flora Jessop, Susan Schmidt, Carolyn Jessop, Linda, Elaine, Lori, Doris…so many more who have stepped forward…all of these deserve our applause not our criticism.

Thank you all for speaking out for the kids.

In my opinion, the FLDS is a criminal organization masquerading as a religion.

Our founding fathers intended for us to have freedom of religion but not outside the laws of the land. Freedom of religion should never mean freedom to abuse.

The FLDS is an organized group whose crimes - often against children - include rape, incest, sodomy, assault and battery. It must be stopped—not “sweetly” swept aside as freedom of religion.

The core issue here is not polygamy - I, by no means support polygamy. It is the habitual abuse of innocent underage victims. The time has arrived to take care of these innocent victims.

– Kathy Jo Nicholson, Former FLDS member

Filed under: Polygamy
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Rebecca Witonsky

    I am appalled that the State of Texas waited four years since this compound was built in 2003 to finally raid it. I don't understand why they had to wait until a child rape victim came forward to raid this compound and liberate the women and children. If polygamy is illegal, then why do Utah and Arizona hardly prosecute it at all, and why does Texas only choose to prosecute men who are accused of statutory rape by taking young girls as their "plural wives"? I don't understand why all the men who take multiple wives are not prosecuted, even if the wives are all above the age of consent.

    At the same time I am gratified that Texas finally took some action and liberated these women and children. I hope that these women and children continue their journey toward freedom. I also hope that the Texas example and the boycott of Utah and Arizona will finally motivate Utah and Arizona to take serious action to end polygamy.

    April 15, 2008 at 12:15 am |
  2. Pat

    I became interested in learning about the FLDS a few years ago, when Colorado City, Arizona, and Hilldale, Utah began to appear more frequently on television, and more insight and information on this group started to become available to the public. A few months later, I believe, Warren Jeffs' name was placed on the FBI's most-wanted list.
    I have been following the current story involving the YFZ Ranch in Texas non-stop since it broke out. I would like to offer my respect to the courageous women who are former FLDS members, or victims, themselves who are sharing their stories with the rest of us.
    My reaction to the situation in Texas is the following:
    Yes, this is America, and it is true that in this country all people, regardless of their religious believes should be respected. However, it is also true that one person's rights stop where someone else's begin. The tolerance that has been given to this group in particular by not intervening in communities such as those in Colorado City and Hilldale, perhaps for religious reasons needs to stop, or at least be seriously re-evaluated. It is know, and it has been known that abuses are and have been taking place.
    Luckily, the state of Texas saw an opportunity to intervene this week, and did so very well. Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end, perhaps, for this group. Arizona and Utah should also see this as an opportunity to act in their respective states.

    April 12, 2008 at 1:10 am |
  3. J&R in NC

    Stay strong Kathy. We are praying for your strength and praying that your experience will soon help these other children.


    April 11, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  4. Mike in NYC

    Count this as pure speculation on my part, but this story broke as one of MLK's lieutenants was on trial for molesting his own daughter. He was convicted today, BTW.

    Strange how only one major domestic news organization (the Washington Post) covered the Bevel story. Google this and see for yourselves.

    Two hammer-driven cultural memes on display here - noble civil rights pioneer and child-molesting rednecks.

    April 11, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    Kathy Jo,

    Your statement that the Constitution gave us freedom of religion and that should never mean freedom to abuse sums up this horrible situation very eloquently. Abuse comes in many forms; its horrible that in this case it came in the form of religion and salvation. I applaud all the women that have stepped up to speak for these children who were taught not to speak up for themselves. I hope the other states will step up and do the same; there are probably lots more children in the same situation who need help getting out.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 11, 2008 at 8:35 pm |
  6. Julie San Diego, CA

    Dave, shame on you.
    Kathy Jo Nicholson just laid her heart bare in front of the world to try to prevent what happened to her from happening to hundreds of innocent women and children and you have to turn this into a CAMPAIGN ISSUE?
    I will be so glad when this election is over so that all the collective narcissists in Washington can get over themselves and this country can focus on fixing the things our "leaders" won't.
    Thanks AC360 for keeping on this story. Until you've lived in an oppressive environment where you've been taught to believe that you don't deserve the air you breathe – and you have to "stay sweet" at all costs – you won't get it.
    Kathy, please continue to speak.
    Dave, you can shut up.

    April 11, 2008 at 6:29 pm |
  7. Heather

    I am happy and hopeful that all of these women,young girls, and children will finally be able to live and breathe as human beings.Knowing that true freedom and security has been there with them all along. They live in the greatist country on earth that has finally caught up to this sick criminal organization. I hope that once they are all well and adjusted that they realize that their dreams can come true.

    April 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm |
  8. Kelly

    I too am glad that Texas finally stepped up to the plate and raided this FLDS compound. It is sad that the law knows about these places and what is occurring in them and does nothing. I hope more states follow suit and do away with these cults and their compounds.

    April 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  9. Dave

    What is the connection between Republican Presidential candidate Romney's withdrwal and the decision (and subsequent delay) to go forth with the latest pseudo-Morman polygamy scandal in Texas? Was McCain or his camp aware/privy to the information? How long ago? Was the Romney camp undermined and discredited by this scandal weeks ago?

    April 11, 2008 at 5:02 pm |