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April 15th, 2008
01:24 PM ET

At the green gate, and then a glimpse of the polygamist's life

CNN gets rare access inside the FLDS compound .

CNN gets rare access inside the FLDS compound .
Katherine Wojtecki
CNN Producer
Every day for the last week and a half that I have been here in remote Texas, I've approached anyone and everyone who came to the beaten-up green farm gate that is the sole entrance to the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS.

 

Then, out of nowhere, buses pulled up carrying what appeared to be women from the compound, and I thought this could be our chance, our one chance to persuade them to let us inside this mysterious place that we all knew so little about.

The women started to file off the buses and started talking with us, telling their side of the story, and the impact on them and their children of the raid in which the state removed 416 children after allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

As the women finished talking with us, and started climbing into their SUV's to head up the long road to the compound, I knew that was my chance. I approached the men at the gate and asked if our cameras and satellite truck could go in for the first-ever look with television cameras.

I tried my best convincing, and they said yes. I almost didn't believe it. This group had usually dodged reporters, and refused to say anything at all to outsiders.

As soon as they unlocked that green gate every member of the media started driving up, and asking to be let in, too. And so the men decided if they let us in, they were going to have to let everyone else in.

I hopped in the car as fast as I could with my photographer, and we drove down a long gravel road that seemed to last forever. It led eventually to... another green gate. There, we waited. And waited. Until finally the group's members decided to let in our cars, in single file.

On that gravel compound, we saw houses. Brown houses, scattered all over, so many it looked as if they could hold more people than I imagine.

Church members led us to one house, where the women of the compound, wearing pioneer dresses and their never-cut hair gathered up in distinctive honey-combed buns, were waiting to talk with us.

Some spoke in fear, some were shy, most were more than willing to tell us what it's like to live there, and what they have experienced these past couple weeks.

It was a rare glimpse inside the lives of a closed society.


 
 

 

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Filed under: Polygamy
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Debbie, NJ

    It seems that everybody has forgotten that there are 14-16 year olds in custody that have children or are pregnant. And who do you think got them in this situation. I think that it is ridiculous that a group of people can hide behind religion and break laws. This is statutory rape. Marrying a child doesn't make it moral or legal. And if you truly believe the Bible, God never intended for man to have more than one wife. He allowed it in the old testament but Jesus clarified that law when he was here on earth.

    April 16, 2008 at 9:35 am |
  2. Marcella

    Polygamy, as adultery, is already tolerated in this country, that doesn’t make it right. Whomever an adult wants to sleep with is nobodies business, but the consenting adults. The keyword is ADULT. The sexual abuse of the children is what the problem is here and it is widespread and needs to be dealt with swiftly and to the full extent of the law.

    April 16, 2008 at 9:18 am |
  3. Susan

    Does gender, race or religion matter? No matter what, it is not ok to indocrinate children to be acceptable to abuse whether physcial, mental or sexual. Sure the mothers want their children back, so do all the druggie moms. Even the ones who truly have physcially abused their kids. The fact that these children are well fed and look neat and clean shows these women have spent time taking care of their families, no one doubts that. What I want to know is, what kind of mother sends their young daughter off to old men to propogate children for the sole sake of increasing the number of people on this earth?, and what mother in her right mind would relinquish her daughter to be wife #7, never to be the special partner and confidant, but just a position among 7 other wives. Certianly we should be tolerant of others beliefs, but not to the extent of ignoring even ONE claim of child abuse. Let the adults at the YFZ ranch prove there was not even ONE case of a girl "married" under the age of 16. If they can prove that then every ear in America will turn a deaf ear to any further accusations. The Texas authorities did their best to locate all records pertaining to marriage and births. We will all know the truth in time. For now though we know for certian that there will be no more new underage wives being forced to consumate spiritual marriages.
    What also suprised me is the fact that CPS seems to have had a hard time getting birth dates, How are they going to match up the parents and kids? I don't think there are too many 6 year olds out there who don't know their parents names and their own birthday and age. What foolish people these mothers are to lie to authorities when everything they do is crucial to how well this turns out in the end.
    Texas DON'T BACK DOWN, make this a safe place for every person who resides in this huge state. Those 416 children & very young mothers included.

    April 16, 2008 at 4:24 am |
  4. Raul

    I think this is looking like the authorities over-reached. If an unknown child calls from a subdivision saying he/she is being abused, would the police come and take all the children in the neighborhood? Is that a reasonable response? As far as I know, the authorities don't even know if they have the allegedly abused girl or not.
    I'm not affiliated with FLDS and personally consider their beliefs are on the strange side. But I think people should be able to pursue their faith freely, that's how the USA got started after all. It seems this people are being persecuted because their religion is considered weird by many.
    From what has been disclosed, it doesn't seem like Texas authorities had enough evidence to take all this children away from their parents. I'm not surprised though, that is Texas y'all.

    April 16, 2008 at 3:35 am |
  5. Amatullah

    Sidney, you could be right or you could be wrong. Fact is, there is no evidence whatsoever to support you claim against this particular group of people. One phone call against an alleged abuser who was later found to not have lived in the state for many years, is not proof. It's not even suspicion. Everyone's concern is completely fictional. You cannot impose other people's behavior on these people. In fact, if even ONE family is wrongly tore apart here (meaning there was no sexual abuse or otherwise), then this is a tragedy. I am tired of seeing women who have been abused by their often christian husbands, think it is their job to "save the world," and assume that every situation is similar to their experience. In other words, some people tend to go overboard to save a few. However, in this country, you are considered innocent until proven guilty, which is one of the major differences between a barbaric and civilized society. Not a single child should be taken from its home without credible PROBABLE CAUSE. A tip that is not credible is NOT probable cause. I know most americans don't even understand what PROBABLE CAUSE means, so I'm probably wasting my time here. However, I simply ask society to back off with the accusations and provide the proof if they are so right.

    I believe that most or all of the children will be returned and the state will be forced to apologize and perhaps compensate the wrongly affect families. It is time for the families to begin suing the state right now, to fight for ALL american's right to their children without cause for removal. Some social workers are over-zealous and over-react when facing an unknown cultural difference, assuming the worst and basing it on what they see on t.v. and movies. Each person is to be treated as an individual, no matter what religion they claim to be. After all, no two people in any religion believe identical and they have the right to be charged with their own crimes and not the crimes of the others in the past.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  6. Chris

    I think it's quite obvious that these women have no idea that what was occurring in their children is very wrong, not to mention illegal. They have turned a blind eye to the abuse of underage girls because that was easier than standing up to their leaders and face the consequences.

    It is unfortunate that children had to be separated from their mothers, however I don't see how it the welfare of these children could be protected otherwise. I definitely support and applaude the actions of the Texan authorities.

    Christina

    April 15, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  7. Amatullah

    In the USA, men are allowed to have a wife and as many women and children on the side as they want. Otherwise, the state would be "policing the bedroom." It is ONLY illegal if the man obtains marriage certificates for more than wife. And believe me, there are men who have done that -- and been convicted for it when found out years later - because it is a major form of deception.

    That is what illegal. What this sect is doing is not illegal. 16 year olds can get married in that state, with parental permission. They can also choose to have sex at 16.

    While many find it distasteful that the person the 16 year old is having sex with is twice her age, remember that the american PIONEERS did the same thing, and this has happened all throughout history without concern. It was not until recent times that the major age difference has been considered distasteful.

    People are assuming that the children are forced and the women are brain-washed. Perhaps it is the opposite – that the general society is brainwashed about women's roles and enslaved to fulfilling a sex-symbol type of role. I think it is wonderful to see parents so dedicated to raising such beautiful little children. And nobody would deny that these children are smart, well-cared for, safe and happy.

    I have heard nothing but good about these precious little children. Some women think it's a crime to force them to wear dresses and would have the families town apart over that issue alone. You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Obviously, based on the statements to the press, many of the baptist women saw this holocaust as a mission from God to proselytize the sect.

    If, however, the state can prove or has substantial evidence that any law is actually being broken, then they can legally remove the man or men who are accused. If they can't convict, they must return the children. It is inexcusable to remove an entire block or two of children from their various home. Can anyone say "witch hunt"?

    April 15, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
  8. Sidney Smith

    As I read and listen about this situation, I can't help but think of "the lost boys" that sat on the steps of Utah's capital. They had been banished from their polygamy compounds for one minor offense after another. There ages were 16 to 18. They had no formal education. Many couldn't read and write. The "old" men were marrying the young girls. If one of the young men and young women acted as if they romantically cared for each other, the young man was banished. I felt so bad for these young boys.

    Yes polygamy is against the law and the laws of the land need to be upheld. They know it is against the law. Why else to they hide. It is very much a "controlling" situation with the men in "control. So many of the women exhibit typical signs of women who have been abused emotionally.

    I don't believe, we as a public, fully understand what has/is going on behind those closed gates. The fear, the emotional abuse, the physical abused disguised under the umbrella a religion, the belittling...... Knowledge is power and freedom, without it, you have control and abuse.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    David

    I have enjoyed your coverage of this and was surprised also when they let you into the compound. This story is unbelievable in a lot of ways – that this sort of lifestyle can exist in the US where it is clearly against the law. While I feel for any mother who loses custody of their child, this story is about child abuse and not religious persecution despite what the FLDS women believe.

    What I don't understand is why the law does not prosecute these people for practicing polygamy.. Even if there is not but one marriage license the substance of their lives is still polygamy.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 15, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  10. Leatriana

    Yes, I believe in freedom of religion, however, that is not the whole story. We are talking about more than just freedom of religion, we are also talking about a child's right to live a life free of abuse. Let those who wish to practice this religion practice it but do not let them force feed the religion and abuse that comes with the religion on children. Just the thought of sweet young girls being forced into marriage with old men makes my stomach turn. The pressure put on those girls to be "good" wifes is disgusting. They have a right to their religion but our country has an obligation to protect every child. Religion is not an excuse for rape!!!

    April 15, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  11. Nikki Pignotti

    I am only 20 years old and as I am reading these comments some of you are completely ridiculous. Why does everything have to go back to religion or some other mass topic. Get over it, look beyond that. This is about a child claiming to be abused by an adult man. I don't see why everyone is so shocked by the fact that these 416 children were taken away. If this were to be just a single split family home and a 16 year old child called the police and said my mom's boyfriend is raping me," the police would come to the house and take ALL of the children away not just the one calling. A large percent of the time, only a so many of the children are strong enough to stand up and say this is wrong and I can't take it anymore.

    Why are these mothers who obviously can't protect their children being stood up for? Why is it so insane they took all these kids away to make sure they are not in any danger? Is it because it's 416? Quit looking at the number of kids and the religion. Look at the facts. If you are that messed up in the head to think that it does not matter that a 16 year old girl is being mallested or abused in a house of how many women that won't protect her then quit watching the news. You are no better than any of those being caught and put on the news.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  12. Susan

    Lois put it very well. Freedom of religion does not mean freedom to persecute. The children have the right to be kept safe.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  13. Angie

    So...they can't locate the girl who made the alleged phone call, and the man accused of the crime has proven that he has not been in the state of Texas for the past 30 years. Texas ought to be ashamed of itself and it's religious witch hunt. Before the women were released, authorities confiscated all cell phones from the women and children , claiming they are concerned about 'witness tampering' HOW is it conceivably legal to take private property from a citizen who is neither under arrest, nor subject to a tort judgement!!! If witness tampering happens... then the state should bring charges for it... Their 'preventative' action of
    practically holding the children, AND adult women hostage,
    incommunicado, is vile. I maintain that the government of the state
    of Texas intends to do a LOT of their own witness tampering to build
    their case and protect themselves from the scandal that will certainly
    unfold when it becomes apparent how excessive is the force they are
    using... think about it this way: A prison camp for
    state-rehabilitation of polygamists... has this plan to create social
    'unity' ever been tried before? In some other, more sinister
    country perhaps?!

    April 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  14. Jeff Campbell

    I can't believe that the state of Texas can get away with taking this kids away on an unfounded claim. They can't find the person who made the calls and the gentlemen in question is believed to have been out of the state since before the alleged incident. Do I think that this is wrong and something happened? Yes. But the evidence that they have does not qualify to the degree of taking 416 children. Does the government take the children of a neighborhood because there is abuse in one family? No. Yes that's a bad example.

    I guess my only question is rather any state government would attack and desecrate a Muslim Mosque on a tip that can't be substantiated? Speaking of a Religion that allows more than one wife and consistently violates the personal rights of women....yikes.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  15. Jan

    There are laws in this country concernng exploitation of the elderly as well as children. The government should have stepped in much sooner. Mary, freedom of relilgion is one thing. Abuse and sexual
    explotation is wrong. No one should tolerate this situation. There are thousands of couples that cannot have children. It would be
    wonderful for these chlldren to grow up and lead productive lives as
    outstanding American citizens-not as a religious sect.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  16. Monica

    I'm most annoyed that everyone thinks we are now being "let in" by this community. Like many groups, not just religious, they put on a face. There is A LOT about them we don't know, and to point fingers is the easiest and fastest way to distract people from knowing what's really going on.

    Like many have already stated, this is about child abuse. This is what should be focused on because honestly, I don't think any young teenager would be thrilled to marry a man 4 times their age, be raped and then forced to bear children.

    April 15, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  17. Maya

    Mary,

    Yes, "Our freedom of religion is our own". However no one has been given the "freedom" to abuse a child. No one, not in this country!

    Everyone knows the FLDS allows old men to marry and impregnate 15 and 16 year olds girls. This is a crime, clear and simple. It's a crime even if a person's religion says that it is not.

    Religion is not above the law.

    April 15, 2008 at 7:10 pm |
  18. Samantha

    The bible states that God establishes all authority and although I don't agree with all laws I do believe that God, Jesus Christ, expects and commands us to obey the law. If non-mormons are charged, imprisioned for having sex with a minor than so will any person of any belief. In addition, the mothers have chosen this life not the children and there is plenty of evidence that these older men were having sex with under age girls. Now, we call that CHILD ABUSE. I don't recall reading in the bible that men can beat thier wives and have sex with children – uh no. Also, let's remember all of the jealousy in the bible when there were multiple wives and how one child was usually favored or one wife favored over another. So, it's a little hard to believe, being a woman and all, that they are all one big happy family. Even if they are they can choose to live that way if they want but they should be free to leave or choose not too instead of being forced into spiritual marriages. These children were being abused and those that have not been abused will be abused when they reach the right age if this is continued. I'm appauld that the State has known for 4 years and stood idly by. This is a free country for all to include those children. We can debate religion all we want the fact is the law says that minors can not get married and that an adult male should not sleep with a minor so the fact is they broke the law this is the consequence. Many children are taken away daily due to neglect and abuse from people from every race and religion there is no preduice. I have adopted 3 children (all blood relatives) who were taken away by the state – of course they felt like thier kids and been kidnapped – but they played a role in it and could have chose to resolve the issues but failed to do so. With that said these women have a choice but they are not willing to make the choice to protect thier children. May we all stand up and defend these innocent children from the evil and abuse of this compound and others like it. The women comparing this to the holocaust is outrageously ignorant and foolish. They are not being put in gas chambers or consiceration camps. It angered me to hear them talk so foolishly. We are all subject to the law of the land established by the governement that we elected and no one including this religious should have any special treatment.

    April 15, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  19. Terry

    I agree that Kathleen admitted that her daughter was 16 or younger when she was pregnant. Living here, where it is all happening, I am glad that they took the kids. It has nothing to do with polygamy, but rather incest and raping children. It is odd that when asked, Kathleen had to stop and think about how old her oldest daughter was. Most any mother will know how old her children are in a heartbeat, without stopping to think about it. Also, If there is no record to verify whom is whom and how old anyone is, it makes me wonder about why there is no record.

    I applaud Anderson on asking if Kathleen knew what happened to the Jews in WWII, she never answered the question and I seriously doubt she has a college degree as claimed. Some of the questions he asked were to see if they were really rehearsing the story, and since she wouldn't answer, it sounded rehearsed. Anderson has a duty to ask the questions that some of us were asking ourselves as we listened to what Kathleen had to say. Way to go Anderson!

    April 15, 2008 at 6:44 pm |
  20. Richard

    Daniel thank you,,

    You are the only one that said anything that is sensible.

    April 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm |
  21. Melinda

    If there is an allegation of child abuse it should be investigated but even in a single case of it they do not leave the child in the accusers house while they investigate. If they did so then the accusor could continue the abuse or intimidate the vicitim.

    In this case, if it is a rule (or law) within their community to marry children at 13 to older men then it stands to reason that most of them would be at risk of that and that is possible why they were all removed. It's not about polygamy, it's about the marriage and forcable rape of young girls.

    There has to be a line between religious freedom and the law. You can't say it's okay for someone to murder someone because in their religion it condones it. There are clear cut things that most agree are right and wrong.

    The bottom line is that none of us know what kind of evidence or lack of evidence the state has. That will be determined but if they felt that these children were at risk of further abuse they had the obligation to remove them from it, just as they would any child(ren) in any other case regardless of lifestyle or religion.

    April 15, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  22. Jaclyn

    I think people tend to forget that this whole situation is not about religion-it is about whether or not children are being abused. Child abuse can occur in all walks of life – all races, ethnicities, religions, socioeconomic classes, colors, etc.

    Don't forget that what you hear in the news is not always fact and is not always the whole story.

    April 15, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  23. Daniel

    Everyone says this is about child abuse and not religion, but the only justification that the state of Texas has provided or could possibly provide for the wholesale removal of children from the compound is that their ideology and lifestyle inevitably breeds abuse. Translation: FLDS folks are not fit parents. Period. There's no other possible way that a small handful of CPS people could determine in one single day that each and every family within that compound was not fit to raise their children. If it's exclusively about child abuse then there would have been less than 20 children removed, as they claimed to have found 16 children who showed evidence of abuse. (What this evidence is they haven't said, beyond several "teenaged girls who appeared to be minors and appeared to be pregnant.") If abuse can be shown then lock up the perpetrators and let the rest get back to their lives. If it cannot be shown stop trying to fabricate it.

    The fact that the judge wants to handle all 416 children as one case is further indication that she views this case as being about religion. She wants to put an end to their presence in her state, and to do it she is trying to show that membership in that faith precludes being a fit parent. I have a sneaky suspicion we're going to find out shortly that there is no Sarah, and that the government was more than happy to jump on a weak excuse to get inside and clean house.

    The government set up a huge "polygamy safe house" many years ago with tons of taxpayer dollars expecting that hundreds and thousands of women would come fleeing from polygamy to their arms once they knew it was there. Evidently only three women in the last hundred plus years have shown up. One person has stated that it seems the state was similarly expecting a massive renunciation of polygamy once the women and children were outside the compound, and when it didn't happen they had no further use for the women and sent them home. This seems to me to explain their lack of foresight when it came to how to handle the women and the children. I'm disgusted by the whole affair, and I hope that the responsible parties are held responsible.

    And just for those people who can only respond with fallacious and emotive misdirection, I in no way condone or tolerate child abuse of any kind. Child abuse is the basest of crimes. I am very close to a number of people who suffered physical and sexual abuse as children and I have seen first hand what it can do to someone's life. Having said that, if there's abuse then show it. Until that's happened, people need to respect due process and quit pretending they can read minds from across the country. So far nothing has been shown.

    April 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  24. Jean Anderson

    I find it difficult to understand the mothers from the compound in Eldorado being concerned about their children taken away while none of them have mentioned wanting their sons( the Lost Boys) back that Warren Jeffs kicked out when they were living in Colorado City.

    April 15, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  25. Melinda

    Poof of what is happening isn't hard to find. As Jphidda said, a 16 or 17 year old with children tells you what's going on. Not to mention that we do not know what proof the state has. They haven’t come out with that yet.

    Not only has Carolyn Jessop spoken out but many others have. 360 and CNN have had quite a few other ex members that say the same thing as Carolyn.

    This is the way I look at it, if one child in class at school said that a teacher or aid had done something abusive to them what would you as one of the other parents in the class do? Just leave the kid there without demanding the school investigate it? Wouldn't you want the children removed from the class or the teacher removed until they knew what happened? I do think we owe it to those children to make sure they are ok because it's too late years from now when they are in the middle of repeating the same cycle with their own children. They will already be scared and even more kids will be abused.

    This really isn’t about religion, this is about abuse and it doesn’t matter what religion someone is if they abuse kids and make it unsafe for them. I’m all for believing what you want to believe, however, once it crosses the line into abusing people then it goes beyond religious freedom.

    April 15, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  26. debbie

    I believe that the women are victims as well as the children and that they should have been rehabiliated with the children. Sending them back into the compound was not the right move.

    April 15, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  27. erika morgan

    Much abuse of children is perpetuated by authority, at the er, by police (I say this as a medical tech, with insider knowledge of what goes on and what is really necessary); and by CPS not protecting children! What is forgotten in all these instances is that the children and their sensitivities must come first. For children living from birth in abusive situations there is no immediate emergency, authority needs to take measured well thought out steps with properly thought out psychological backup and support in place before they move so as to not do more harm in the name of "protecting". In a case like this innocent children, misled young women, and brainwashed mothers all should be kept in their own home environment where there in the maximum chance they will feel confident enough to tell what is really going on. The sex abuse stops if you remove the potential abusers who are more worldly, more responsible, more mature; the bonus is there are only 60 of them to house and feed and try once the facts are sorted out. In regular incest cases the children's lives are preserved as much as possible, government should never become an abuser, even to save a victim. We must remember these are families who love and depend on each-other even is there are some unsavory things going on. Also government must be careful not to play into the role that the sect has carved out for it as they have been taught to fear government and we are feeding their fears. Love wins fear makes us the losers here, at Waco, in Iraq, etc.

    April 15, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  28. jPhidda

    The FLDS have realized that they need to whip up the public's opinion against the Texas authorities, so these closed community are now "open." Don't be fooled, you are not seeing the inside - you are seeing the Potemkin village in the plains of Texas.

    A 16 year old with 4 children was found at this place. That speaks volumes.

    April 15, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  29. Jim thomas

    shame on you mary. this is not about religion. its about child abuse

    April 15, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  30. Lois

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then it must be a duck.
    These people are a part of the American and as Americans they should be treated just like the rest of us. We all have the right to live in freedom of choices, but choice does not include committing crimes, such as rape, molestation, and physical abuse of children. Why are the women who want to leave this religion are not allow to do so, why, this is our right to leave church and go to another. This seems to be that they are not free and are being held against their will, as hostages. There maybe other crimes to, do these children have birth certificates, death certificates, or SS #.
    If they are collecting welfare checks they should have to abide by the same rules a everyone else who is on welfare. #1. If you are living in the same house with your baby's father – no check. #2. You must name your baby's father and child support should be collected or attempted to be collect from these fathers – welfare fraud. Are these so called unwed mothers made to obtain jobs, go to school to better their condition, or learn any kind of trade? They are enjoying a way of life that seems to be supported by other tax paying citizens. Do they pay income tax of anykind?

    Our state and US government has been turning a blind eye to this CULT far to long. No other religion again if it looks like a cult, walks like a cult, talks like a cult it must be a CULT.

    There people are hiding behind freedom of religion to keep these women and children hostage, because they know that they can not brainwash other women on the outside.

    WWJS – WHAT WOULD JESUS SAY

    April 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  31. Carol, California

    What I don't get about the endless coverage of this story is that it is all based on hearsay and rumors. Where are the facts that back up these claims?

    From what I have heard they haven't found the person who made the original calls to complain so they don't know if any of this is real. The person she accused lives in another state and there is no evidence that he has left.

    One ex-member, Carolyn Jessop, is on every channel telling her dramatic story of escape, but has anyone checked it out to see if it is true? Are there any police reports or medical records to back up her claim? She has said that she had a small child that was disabled or sickly – I don't really remember – but I know she said that she had to disconnect him from oxygen in order to make her escape. A) if that's true she was not completely cut-off, the child was getting medical care and, B) wouldn't you take a small child that was in that condition to a hospital right away to be sure he was okay? Also where did she go? Are there any records of her showing up at a shelter? Did the kids ever enroll in school? Did she ever go to the police for help? Why wasn't the brother who, supposedly, helped her escape in the sect? She claimed the kids had counseling.. where? Where is the proof of any of this story?

    I'm not saying it's not true, but there are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of things that don't make sense.
    The TV reports are just endless speculation. I'm not defending the FLDS lifestyle, it seems pretty wierd to me, but maybe you guys should check this out first. Remember the 24-7 coverage of the "I killed Jon Benet" guy?

    April 15, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  32. Jason Tobin

    Well this is a case that is interesting to say the least. A true test of freedom of religion. The question is how far does freedom of religion go? When does the state have to right to question that communities traditons and customs? ARe they traditons and customs? Are they criminal? Personally I do not agree with there lifestyle. Also I do believe that likely they are violating the law in this regard. But obvioulsy this issue needs to have definitive resoultion whether the state or nation has the right to challenge there beliefs. ANother wonderful court battle for the US Justice system.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  33. Lauren

    Is it legal for Child Services to go in a remove and entire community of children from New York City?? No, they investigate and then take action. This is so reminiscent of the 1953 Short Creek Raid where the Times and Newsweek (back in 1953) called it "un -American" and "odious". What is truly sad, is that you can take the exact artivle from July 3, 1953 change the date and location, and you have exactly what is going on now. How with only allegations – can you take ALL the children??? If there is an allegation of abuse at a family campground, do they remove all the children and don't allow them to return?? No! So why is it o.k. here? Not to mention...the prime suspect has been let go...so where is this going? This is terrible, it is a violation of thier rights, and this is a perfect example of "act now...think later".

    I have a bad feeling that the decision makers behind this ill thought plan are in for a world of trouble.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  34. cb

    I am outraged that these people are so warped as to compare their situation with Jews in the Holocaust. Jews, Slavs, gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, and more were rounded up for who they were, and sent to death camps. If only they had been sent to places as nice as the Texas authorities are providing for these scofflaws!

    April 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  35. Darryl

    Mary,

    Anyone and everyone in this country has the freedom to practice their religion as they see fit, provided that it does not conflict with the rest of the laws of this nation. There is no one without the whole.

    In the case of this sect, there is no issue with living in an isolated community, not is there anything particularly illegal about their teachings, except that polygamy of any form is illegal, as is the marriage of children under the age of 16 in Texas, and sexual assault up to and including intercourse below the age of consent.

    The reports coming from the members of the congregation are filled with red herrings and fear mongering. There is no persuction of religion going on here, only investigation of felony sexual assault. There is no comparison to be made to 'the Jews in Nazi Germany,' pogroms in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter. They may see it as a matter of religion, from the inside, but the rest of the world, from the outside, sees it as a matter of law.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  36. Carol B., Virginia

    I didn't mean to state that Mary is from the FLDS, but the views still seem extreme.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  37. Carol B., Virginia

    Mary, if you are who you say you are then it's too bad that you will not see that children aren't married off when they are CHILDREN outside the gates of your community. While religious persecution does exist, it doesn't seem like any FLDS members are willing to concede that the children were taken, however long, for security reasons. It's not that people don't have any compassion or their own family issues to deal with. However, to compare yourselves to the Amish is disingenuous. While their spiritual way of living has features similar to the Luddites, it is hardly as controversial as the FLDS, so a raid is unlikely.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  38. amanda

    mary- i think you are crazy and dangerous. If the parents are so brainwashed by their religion then SOMEONE needs to step in. Don't get me wrong, having strong religios beliefs is a good thing, but NOT if they take away your ability to think freely and have your own opinions. That is the truest division of churches and cults. Also yes, as parents we should try to steer our children down the right path, but that path is of their own choosing, "obeying" should not be the end all be all, especially if it leads to physical or pshchological danger to the children. I say thank god for Texas and I hope the other compounds of this revolting sect are the next to be disbanded.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  39. Bob Allen

    Mr. Anderson please lay off this NEWS now..you have hair splitted to the MAX..tired of listening, watching for over week same thing......
    Give us break

    Why do have back to back show from 10PM to 12 midnight..that's too much..since next hour is the repeat of first hour????

    CNN has nothing else then to repeat same show ??
    Please spare us with Boredom of repeat NEWS.......
    Bob

    April 15, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  40. Dale Waldo

    Poor Mary. She seems to believe that religion is on the outs in America. Maybe she isn't watching enough of the news where it seems everyone has an opinion about religion and who has more than the next one - i.e. our current Presidential race. You can bet that if a politcal contender came out and said that they thought a War on Religion would be great idea they would have as much luck fighting that as our War on Poverty, War on Drugs and War on Terror. I am a Christian living in the US. The US is NOT a Christian nation. As a Christian I believe we need to be more loving to others and try to understand their position. If a religious group insists that obeying US law is breaking the law of God they need to stand up and defend their postion. They can a waiver so that they can practice their faith without government control. Other religious groups do that in regards to religious schools or immunizations or blood donations to name a few. Others have defended their convictions and are able to practice their faith as they see fit. I don't think this particular group is too concerned about defending their faith in the public arena. If they want to live in the US they need to find a way to co-exist with the laws of the land. But Mary thinks it is a government cover-up, not a polygamist cover up. I wonder which group has more to cover up? Who is hiding behind a green door?

    April 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  41. Brad

    I have been watching Anderson for some time. Last night I felt he was an insensitive jerk when interviewing the Wife/Mother that was on 360.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  42. Grayscaler

    Unfortunately, the victimes, as trite as it sounds are the children. Although it can be said the women are 'brainwashed' they are still adults. The children, on the other hand, have no choice but to stay.

    http://grayscaleblog.blogspot.com/

    April 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  43. Laura

    After watching the interview with "Kathleen" last night I was very disturbed when she mentioned that she had an 18 year old daughter who had a 10 month old child. If you take into account the fact that the child would have been born while this girl was barely 17 (if even that) and the 9 months of pregnancy this means that this daughter of hers would have been 15-16 years old when she was impregnated! Simple math! She may even be younger then this if the mother is lying about her being 18 years old.
    She has admitted to it on national TV! This mother should be arrested for aiding and abetting. It makes me sick. These mothers won't protect their children so someone has to.
    Best of luck to the courts. I hope they put an end to this once and for all and send a clear message to the other sects that this abuse won't be tolerated.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  44. eridani

    There is a double standard in this country. A single man can have multiple children with multiple girlfriends and besides being considered a cad, he's free to walk the streets. But once a man wants to marry more than one woman, it becomes a crime? I'm not pro polygamy, but I am pro freedom. Where do we draw the line morally and legally?

    April 15, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  45. pkendall

    Should you research weather the U.S. Goverment is not paying for these children from some entitlement policy and if so how can we stop women from having children to make money . I think this is a growing problem all across our nation and it needs to be stopped.
    As a parent who paid for my chidren I do not think the goverment should pay people to have children.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  46. Esmeralda

    Other than the fact that polygamy is gross to those who are not used to the idea, it is no different from ordinary citizens in the rest of the US whose women and children are also beat up, abused, tortured and degraded. The polygamy thing may be illegal but apparantly some folks simply wish to form their own vision of a more conservative living. That in itself is no different from the majority of America's desire to barricade our borders from the influence of other "lesser" cultures. We should just become a communist country. Does anyone else see the connections here? Cries for help and what not.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  47. Tina

    Yeah, it is getting weird. The more I hear about this story, the more I wonder. The thing is , the kids. They really are afraid and they want their moms. The only reason the moms are speaking out is they want their sons and daughters back. I can understand that.

    I can't understand why they are "locked down living in a community" away from other people. I just feel for the kids and all involved.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  48. Jakeia

    I feel that it is about time to regulate polygamy; especially becasue it's illegal. Once the kids are sexually abused, then Uncle Sam should step in and protect the many children forced into this gruesome way of life. So far, it seems that the members want respect of religion however, they don't pratice the same doctrine for those that want out of their own.
    The majority of their women are brainwashed, confused, and isolated from reality. I hope that the children are well represented in court and protected from their families.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
  49. Mary

    I think our Government and local officials should be ashamed of themselves. Our freedom of religion is our own. The fundamental bible beliefs with our Father Abraham allowed for multiple wives whether I believe in that or not. If children who want to disobey their parents and turn wild they should go away, but to punish the whole sect for their Bible believing rights is very wrong. If a teenager makes a claim on one man, it's against that man and her family not the rest. What's wrong with you people? Let us live our own lives.
    It's always been this way though. If you're a Christian in a Muslim nation you're dead. If you're a Muslim in a Christian nation, you have the right to worship as you like. What's next? Is our nation going to arrest the Amish next. Give me a break. I believe in a government cover-up. The government doesn't want Christianity. In fact, I believe that it's trying to destroy religion in America. What a great nation this is.
    Church of Christ/Pentecostal/Holiness

    April 15, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  50. Carol

    Is anyone else as tired of this story as I am?

    April 15, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
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