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May 2nd, 2008
11:58 AM ET

Children of Polygamy: Broken Bones, Broken Spirits?

Copyright © 2007 by Visionary Classics, LLC From the book Escape by Carolyn Jessop, co-author Laura Palmer, published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Copyright © 2007 by Visionary Classics, LLC From the book Escape by Carolyn Jessop, co-author Laura Palmer, published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Carolyn Jessop
Former FLDS Member/Co-Author with Laura Palmer of ESCAPE

Editor’s Note: Child Protective Services (CPS) in Texas this week reported that 41 of the young children removed from the compound of the polygamist FLDS sect in Texas had had broken bones, nearly 10 percent. That’s far higher than the 1 percent among children in the US general population. An FLDS lawyer questioned the CPS report and called its release "unethical." However, Carolyn Jessop, who was married to the man now running the sect, says corporal punishment of children in the FLDS was common and sometimes severe enough to break bones, and access to doctors was strictly limited. Here is an account from her best-selling book:
 
                                             
One night after we were both asleep, Merril called prayers. Our children were pulled out of bed and ordered upstairs to pray. Wendell, Cathleen’s son, who was not quite two, was asleep in his crib. He was cranky and fussy after he woke up. Merril told Barbara to take Wendell into the next room and discipline him.   

Barbara took Wendell into the room where she had beaten Patrick and let him have it. When Barbara beat a baby she would typically spank him until he was blue in the face from screaming. Then she would stop, order the baby to stop screaming, and start beating him again when the hysterical child continued to scream. Eventually the baby would collapse from exhaustion when he was too weak to cry. 

Wendell’s pitiful screams went on into the night. Everyone at prayers was required to wait until Barbara returned. But when she didn’t return, Cathleen’s other children were ordered to bed. None of them dared wake up Cathleen to tell her what was happening to Wendell.   

Barbara took Wendell into Cathleen’s bedroom and laid him beside her.   

Cathleen awoke when she heard Barbara’s voice. “Wendell will grow up and do what his father needs him to do. Wendell will be a good man some day.”   

Cathleen bolted up in bed and asked Barbara what she was doing.   

Barbara continued stroking Wendell and saying, “Good night, Wendell, you will learn from these lessons how to be a good man.”   

Then Barbara left the room.   

Cathleen looked at her small son and saw how battered and bruised he was. His clothes were still soaked from his tears and sweat. Cathleen awakened her other children and asked them to tell her what had happened. At first they were too terrified to tell. But she persisted and heard about the call to prayer and the attack on Wendell. Her children told her they saw Barbara take Wendell into another room and heard him screaming after she shut the door.   

Cathleen walked into Barbara’s bedroom where she was relaxing.   

“Don’t you ever touch one of my children again,” she said.   

Barbara sat up in bed and shot back. “Cathleen, you are out of order and you know it. I was only doing the will of my priesthood head. For you to question is pure rebellion.”   

“Barbara, we have nothing to communicate about. I’m warning you that you had better never touch one of my children ever again.”   

Cathleen left and locked herself into her bedroom. Her room connected to her children’s nursery. She locked the door that led into their room, too.   

Barbara went immediately upstairs to Merril’s office and told him what Cathleen had said. She returned to her bedroom. Merril stood outside Cathleen’s room and began pounding on her door.   

Cathleen did not respond.   

Merril was shouting outside her door. “You’re in serious trouble and if you know what is good for you then you will open this door before I break it down.”   

“Do whatever you want. I’m not going to talk to you,” Cathleen replied.   

Merril went and banged on the door to the children’s nursery. Cathleen’s children were too terrified to refuse their father’s commands. They opened the door.

He barged into Cathleen’s bedroom and ordered her into his office. “Cathleen, if you are going to challenge Barbara when she acts on my orders, then you will have to face consequences.”   

Cathleen refused to get out of bed.   

“Merril, I’m not going anywhere with you. You better leave now.”   

Merril grabbed Cathleen and threw her on the floor. Her son, Johnson, was sleeping in her recliner and woke up screaming.   

“Leave now, Merril. Get out of here.”   

Merril threw her back on the floor, but this time even harder.   

Her children were screaming from the nursery, “Go with Father, please, please.”   

Merril grabbed Johnson from the recliner and threw him into the nursery and locked the door. Johnson was a shy child who had always been terrified of Merril. Merril berated Cathleen for upsetting her children. Cathleen’s daughters were screaming in the nursery. Wendell, who had fallen asleep, started whimpering again.   

Cathleen knew she was out of options. “Merril, if you will allow me to take Wendell to Sara, I will go to your office.” Sara was Cathleen’s eldest daughter.   

Merril screamed at her for hours in his office. He told her that she was never, under any conditions, to sass Barbara. The next morning when Cathleen awakened me for coffee, her eyes were swollen and red. She told me everything her children had told her about what happened to Wendell the night before.   

“Carolyn, Merril can batter me and berate me. But I am not going to allow Barbara to hurt my children. I’m going to see Warren.”   

I warned her against that. I told her about the seventeen-page letter I had given to Warren Jeffs documenting Merril’s abuse. I explained how Warren had discounted my charges because I failed to confess my own sins of immorality.   

Cathleen latched on to that in the wrong way. She suddenly thought that if she confessed her sins to the prophet, then he would help her.   

I felt sick. “Cathleen, that was only an excuse. Warren needed a reason not to help me. The reality is he never intended to. He will do everything he can to cover up Merril’s abuse.”   

She was unshakable in her conviction that if she told Warren the truth about her sins, he would respond to her honesty with help and protection.   

“I’m going to ask Warren for help. I do have sins.” And she proceeded to tell me about a wrong that she had committed.   

I begged her not to confess that wrong to Warren Jeffs. “Cathleen, don’t do it. He will eat you for lunch. If you really want to confess, confess to things like not picking up paper from the floor. Don’t give him anything to use against you.”   

But Cathleen was still a true believer. “If I want his help, I need to be honest.”   I knew she was doomed. There was no way she would get any help from Warren Jeffs. Confessing to a sin like that would give him power to condemn her to hell.   

Cathleen made an appointment to see Warren. He heard another of Merril Jessop’s wives talk about his abusive behavior toward her.   

Cathleen didn’t say much when she came back. She looked spent. She became more obedient to Barbara. Merril told her there would be no forgiveness for her rebellion and instructed her to turn over her small yellow truck to him. She would not be allowed to have her own transportation again. (Some of us had our own cars and vans, but most of us were not allowed to register them and they had no license plates. So if we left the community, we could not travel far without being stopped by the police. Cathleen needed her truck to go back and forth to Page, so hers was one of the few vehicles that was registered.)   

Merril also ordered Cathleen to turn over all her paychecks to him. But she told me later she had no intention of doing that. “There is no way I’ll put myself at his mercy financially,” she said. But I knew Barbara would insist that she did.   

Cathleen told me that she was going to make amends to Barbara by working on a project with her: cleaning Merril’s office. This was the way they were to learn to love each other again as sister wives. 


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • Carolyn Jessop • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. MD in Seattle

    Max, what "hospital statistics" are you quoting when you reference your figures? If you are including things like broken fingers or jammed toes you might come up with this 50%. However, there are some kinds of broken bones that are more suggestive of abuse than others, for example a femur fracture in a baby who can't walk is more suggestive of abuse than a wrist fracture in a teenager. You don't know what the Texas authorities are seeing here, so quit your dumb laughing. All the studies I can find show a bone fracture risk of about 1 % a year in kids under 6 yrs old.
    I like how you refer to the rape of teenage girls by authority figures "lifestyle idiosyncracies". You sound like one of these controlling men from the compound! How can you say that rescuing these women and children from a life of slavery is inhumane?

    May 6, 2008 at 2:50 am |
  2. noelle

    So Anderson, why aren't these stories of horrific abuse against babies making the headlines? Anyone who would beat a helpless toddler like this deserves to have their children taken away! and this isn't even as bad as the waterboarding treatment that Carolyn decribed in her book, something we would consider torture if done to adults!!! when I think of my own precious child, it makes me nauseated to think of these things happening to small babies.

    And Mike in NYC, a review of your own family's health status doesn't count as science. Also, you don't know what age these kids are, they say "very young", perhaps they are talking about these little babies. And hopefully that's not what's going on in your family.

    May 6, 2008 at 2:31 am |
  3. vera

    I can't believe this is happening in America.This sect should be
    abolished completely.

    May 6, 2008 at 1:48 am |
  4. Diane

    I don't care what religion you practice or how many wives you have, what happened to that boy was child abuse, illegal in all 50 states. Furthermore, the police aren't acting based upon "statistics" or "hunches". they're acting based upon real accounts of what happens at that ranch, real accounts of OTHER people's rights being violated, which is equally if not more important than the potential violations of the rights of the people discussed in the recent news articles, simply for the fact that the accounts of what has been happening that are being used as evidence are relevant to what has happened to the victim, and the suspected violations are relevant to the abusers. when you commit a crime, regardless of religious belief, your civil rights are no longer absolute.

    May 6, 2008 at 1:29 am |
  5. radha

    This is not even a religion. It's a way of life that's an illusion for the children and women. It's a way for those men with authority in the sect to get away with everything. It is disappointing that the government did not intervene sooner.

    May 6, 2008 at 1:20 am |
  6. john

    the women and childen need to be taken into protective custody and saved from these religiouse beasts of hell. And the men shoud be severly punished with the maximum sentences. Do people really live this way! it is intolerable!

    May 6, 2008 at 1:03 am |
  7. DreamWeaver

    If someone ever tried to "discipline" my child like that they wouldn't be waking up the next morning....

    –I'm a 29 yr old mother of 3 who was abused and neglected as a child. I swore to myself that my children would NOT have the same type of childhood I did.

    The so called "circle of abuse" some experts talk about ends with me!

    May 6, 2008 at 12:07 am |
  8. Beth - NJ

    I have to agree I think that 1% is a little low, considering. I am one fo 10 kids and there was only 1 of us that ever broke anything, but there where lots of strains, sprains, and bruises. And that was just from playing sports, never mind horse play.

    As for how the breaks happen, it is hard to say. I heard that Warren Jeffs encouraged the children to play on a trampolean. This alone could be the 'cause'. Also they are living on a working farm, accidents happen.

    I am not excusing the behavior, the 'adults' will still have to explain about the underaged girls giving birth. I also think that they are going to have to do alot of explaining as to where the all of the birth parents are of these children.

    May 5, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  9. curtis

    Lesli wrote:

    “I just did a quick mental survey of my nieces and nephews in my husband and my family, and the children come up with a much higher than 1 or even 10% of them having had broken bones before the age of 16.”

    The authorities in Texas were talking about young children. For 10% of children to have broken bones before the age of five is highly unusual. Also, in my family only one child out of 11 broke a bone by the age of 12, and these kids are all very active.

    May 5, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  10. P Laurence

    I stayed up until 3:30 am finishing Carolyn's book over the weekend. I cried so many times. I recommend this book to everyone. Carolyn is an amazing hero who was able to see above her own situation and brainwashing. That, in and of itself is nothing short of miraculous. She deserves all the happiness and success in life. Her efforts have no doubt shed light on the severe problems in this polygamous cult. Texas should be proud that they made the difficult decisions. They are saving lives and protecting future lives.

    May 5, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  11. Lisa

    Carolyn Jessop is a HERO.
    I've been following the case closely since I live in Texas but I'm also an advocate for women and children.
    By Texas standards, these sperm donors may be males but they're not men.
    REAL Texas Men do not molest young girls.
    REAL Texas men do not send their daughters to be molested.
    REAL Texas men do not kick their boys out.
    REAL Texas men do not force their wives and children to be on welfare.
    CPS is to be applauded for this effort. As someone who has worked closely with CPS and CASA, CPS is often hesitant to take such actions or children are returned to their abusive enviornments of endgangerments. The agency got it right this time.
    Carolyn, you have been invaluable in helping us understand what goes on in this secret sect that thrives on breaking TEXAS LAWS!

    May 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm |
  12. curtis

    A says

    "I don’t believe a second of this woman’s story. She’s going to say anything to sell her book, and this is just more of it. This was a defiance of constitutional rights. Give me a break!!! I don’t believe one second or minute of what she said in the least!!!"

    Sorry – but men who run cults control people. That's why they are running a cult. So they can control people. They are by nature abusive. To not believe that abuse will be rampant is naive. Also, nothing about the author relaying this story defied anyone’s constitutional rights. The constitution does not give men the right to have domain over their families, even if God says so.

    May 5, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  13. Michael, Notre Dame, IN

    How the country is reacting to this is akin to the fear and hate mongering you’d have seen if homosexual families were broken up only a generation ago. Some empathy should be shown for these people and their way of life, because regardless of how this all plays out, the vast majority of these men and women are undoubtedly good/honest/hardworking/moral people. There have been very few concrete facts on abuse here but a great many closed minded and ethnocentric value judgments. In America, you are innocent until proven guilty, and while these people are DIFFERENT, as Americans, as human beings, they still deserve the benefit of the doubt.

    May 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  14. Clydene

    How can we "cry out" so loud and long, that we will not be ignored?
    Let's DEMAND they raid Hildale UT/Colorado City AZ, remove the children. And, the Officials, who have ignored this, and let it happen, also be held accountable; and these men be put behind bars, and STOPPED.

    There is a little 2 year old somewhere, who has NO VOICE, and we must be his voice.

    It must make God weep.
    He must think He should never have created man.

    Thank God, there is a 'rainbow".

    Dear God, help the children. Let men, with ears to hear, LISTEN.
    Let there be the sound of hundreds of children's feet, leaving these compounds.

    May 5, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  15. Karin

    I am tired of these religious men thinking they own these woman. Like they are foot stools they can rest their feet upon or, kick to the opposite end of the room when ever they feel like it. Just the other day, a man was feeling quite smug and shared with me how God gave Adam a rib and on and on and on. I have heard this story to many times. I am tired of it.
    Personally, most stories in the bible are quite scary. All the genocide and rape. Yet, there are religions through out this country praising the very teachings that revolve around the stuff that disgusts me. Go figure.
    I can guarantee you, if I ever came across someone hurting you like this, I wouldn't be praying or, turning to anyone invisible to help you or, me. I'd kick some major booty to get you out of the situation. And, give you all a great big hug. Peace be with you.

    May 5, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  16. Cydney

    It's a truly sad day when MANkind doesn't know how to cherish their children, and can seemingly behave against them more harshly than the animal kingdom does with their young. So much for "higher" intelligence... This has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. Send them all to prison and let them be judged their by their own kind, criminals.

    May 5, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  17. Clydene

    No wonder I was "shaking" inside when I read about FLDS. It is so traumatic. You just can't believe someone would do that to a 2 year old toddler, when they are so precious. He couldn't even understand what was happening and to terrify the other children and throw Cathlene on the floor, this man is a monster!
    My God, I would have been trying to make sure the children were asleep and getting all the rest they needed, so they woldn't be tired and exhausted and miserable. It's a wonder she didn't kill him.
    This is NOT OKAY.
    PLEASE, PROTECT these children!
    And, then, to take her transportation away, so she couldn't leave with her children. Is that like pulling the phone off the wall, when someone is trying to make a emergency call to the Police in an abusive situation? Because, if it is...he's going to jail, if it hasn't been that long ago.
    This is so terrible, I can't even read all the posts.
    These children are going to suffer from mal-treated syndrome.
    That is not disciplining, that is beating and abusing a child.
    That isn't the way to teach children to obey.

    May 5, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  18. kedar

    How can you people let it happen in FREE AMERICA? I wonder is America really free? Why you guys have to stay at marcy of such people and prists? Why cant authorities do anything for this.

    May 5, 2008 at 8:58 pm |
  19. Patricia Hoopes

    I don't know if the book covers how this horrendous place is financed. As I understand it, only one official legal marriage is on the books and all these "spiritual marriages" leave countless single moms who can then claim welfare benefits. Therefore, our taxes are paying for this obscene lifestyle. I understand removing the kids for their protection, but the perps here are the men. It's too bad there was not a legal way to remove these creeps from the ranch and give the women and girls a much needed break from being ritually sexually abused. Initially I thought it was harsh to separate the kids from their families. The more I learn about this place the more convinced I am that the rescue was lifesaving.

    May 5, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  20. Kaye Harris

    Carolyn I bought your book and I am reading it now. It is riveting! I hope everyone will purchase your book and you become a millionaire. You deserve it!

    May 5, 2008 at 8:04 pm |
  21. R.Karr

    How many wives in this polygamist sect are on welfare and how can the state not go after the fathers to pay like they do to every other father whose children must be provided for by the state? No one has brought this up. How are these women supporting multiple children if they never leave the compound to go t o work? I know the FLDS has a trust, but does that trust support these families in day to day expenses?
    Can someone tell me this?

    May 5, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  22. Sadie

    I just finished "Escape" yesterday and believe me, not only was it a page turner but it was also an eye opener!
    I have a new appreciation for my life and the freedom I have. Carolyn is such a brave young lady and I applaud her courage in the face of such adversity. Wow – we can learn a lesson from her!
    I hope and pray that these "sects" are closed down! They are hiding behind religion when religion is the last thing on their mind!

    May 5, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  23. joyce

    I cried. As known in social psychology, the powerless ( wives and children) are not to be blamed; they are the victims of social psychological manipulations applied unto them by the dominant group (the husbands). The latter is to be held responsible for their crime; robbing a person of his/her human dignity is a crime in God's eyes, and should also be a crime in the eyes of our laws.

    May 5, 2008 at 7:26 pm |
  24. Jan Smith

    Carolyn- Having read your book, I was horrified by the incidences of brutality that you very casually mention. Why didn't you get out sooner and, if you were so very religious, didn't you practice the regular Morman religion?

    May 5, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  25. Still unforgiven

    This is mostly to the woman who lambasted the FLDS women regarding their 'absence' of maternal instincts in not protecting their children, but to any woman grappling with the consequences (shame, humiliation, the damaging/breaking of a womans instincts, etc) of mental/emotional/physical abuse, which I assume that particular woman has never experienced.

    I was raised in a completely dysfunctional home, but one that almost always maintained an outward veneer of 'normalcy'. This denial of reality blurs the perceptions of reality for a child, and going on long enough even distorts the perception of reality for an adult.

    I eventually became an abusive mother, and a member of an old testament 'christian' church. When I abused my child out of fear of eternal damnation for not raising a god fearing and obedient child, I DID feel the wrong in my soul. But I let the distortion of reality and perception and my fear of the churches teachings override my maternal instincts.

    I was ultimately thrown out of the church for my rebellion at their sick teachings, but not before I'd done harm to my child and a grandchild, too. I've made my peace with what I did, but am to this day without the forgiveness of my child, and have been cut out of my other child and grandchilds life permanently. Apparently this is the 'justice' that the universe requires of me...

    So it may be unconstitutional to have raided that compound, but by the Goddess, most of those kids and some of the mothers will be saved from a life of nothing less than utter spiritual, emotional and physical abuse. What they do to those kids and women is bloody well unconstitutional as well. And to the woman sitting in judgement of those women I say, walk a mile honey, walk a mile.

    May 5, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  26. Barbara Z, California

    RE: comments by Tammy in LA, Carolyn Jessop wrote this book months ago. Long before this recent news of the Texas ranch came out. I read it as did my 15 year old daughter. It is important for the world to know what this cult has been doing. That you think she is just making a buck on her terrible story is repulsive. You should have a look at the book before making premature judgements.

    May 5, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  27. Sherri

    I lived in a small town not far from Colorado City, AZ. I have always wondered why officials from Utah and Arizona just sit by and let this stuff happen. Are the state officials afraid of what these sick,sick, sick people will do. I wish that the officials of these two states could follow the lead of the Texas officials and remove the children from Colorado City and Hilldale. Please all that read this, pray for those poor children.

    May 5, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  28. Peter

    This is too much of freedom. Head of this organisation gets only 13 years of prison? I can compare men in this place to Austrian man who had kids with his own daughter in the basement. Instead of 13 years of prison, make him into 13 million pieces in front others so that no one will dare to do such kind of activities. GOD, give me a break. How can we tolerate this kind of stuff. No need to waste public money with trail for these guys in the court. Just shoot them to death. How are these kids going to live their rest of their life. They need to carry their mental and physical wounds rest of their life.

    May 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  29. A

    I don't believe a second of this woman's story. She's going to say anything to sell her book, and this is just more of it. This was a defiance of constitutional rights. Give me a break!!! I don't believe one second or minute of what she said in the least!!!

    May 5, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  30. Edana Popp

    CNN, would you please stop referring to these girls as being "married". They aren't being forced to "marry", they are being forced to have sex. That is called rape.

    May 5, 2008 at 6:53 pm |
  31. Kathy SouthernNH

    The earth has allowed individual freedoms this type of religious behavior subjecting children to sexual freedoms for cult brain washing should be stopped. The USA should be enriched enough to be able to allow children to grow up and to be educated in a proper healthy environment. We give billions to other countries for education and health and for the welfare of children. Can we do more for our own? Should we be doing our own land a favor in keeping our children healthy without fears of bones being broken and fed with nutrition and housed with love not hate? I think it's time that Men and Women stood up and protected the land the children the people. We need to do better we need to do more and we need those that are more prosperious to stand up and do the right things. I love my country I love my freedoms I wish that the love of these two would be enough but it doesnt keep the children free of hate or fear of hurt and humiliation. Children are not given an option to be brought into the world they should at least be given the option to be treated and educated the best that we can.

    May 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  32. Pam Wright

    I am reading your book at this time and I'm wondering do you know Irene Spencer, she wrote a book on the same subject, and some of the people she mentioned are also in your book. Gob bless you and your family for getting out and making a better life for yourselves.

    May 5, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  33. Marisol - Anderson Fan

    Wake up folks. It ain't just the FLDS who abuses kids yanno.

    It's tragic, and rotten and the kids are the ones having to deal with the scars for the rest of their lives, but FLDS doesn't have privilige rights on abuse.

    They're just the ones who got lucky enough to hit the news.

    May 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  34. Max

    The 1% statistic is laughable. Seattle Hospital statistics say the percentage increases with age, and statistically you have a 50/50 chance of breaking a bone by age 16.

    Disclaimer: Not a Fan of FLDS or their particular take on their favorite invisible friend. I think the treatment of the "lost boys" is also a big problem, however the actions of CPS and the state of Texas are unconstitutional and incredibly inhumane.

    Also, I find many of the comments to be from people who appear to be extremely bigoted and reactionary; you on the one hand accuse these people of being "programmed" yet parrot sensational accusations as fact without even bother to paraphrase the source material. Who exactly is being brainwashed here?

    Pots, met the kettle, and I hope one day your life style idiosyncrasies become unpopular so we can violate your constitutional rights for the sake of the metaphorical children; since it's obvious you don't actually care about real ones.

    ~Max

    May 2, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  35. Annie Kate

    it is just sickening to think of those children and the wives subjected to this day after day with no easy escape available to them. Carolyn, I am in awe of your courage and determination to leave and to leave with all your children.

    In reading this passage I understand why the CPS said that the abuse in the community was pervasive and bound up in the system (religion) that the FLDS practice. As bad as the physical abuse is towards boys and girls, the underage marriages often to men the young girls do not know but who are much older is sickening. It was hard for me to believe that there were places in America that were like this and that only offered the opportunity to the girls to marry young and have babies one after another until they were too old to have anymore. I hope that the Texas CPS can find a way to break this cycle of abuse in this community.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 2, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  36. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    How terrifying for those kids to have mothers who didn't protect them from their fathers and care for them when they were injured!!! The State of Texas really did do the right thing by taking them away. Some people had questioned it a while back. What I get clinically yet can't resolve in my heart is how a parent could let a child stay in pain for that long and not move heaven and hell to get help. I don't have my own babies, just nieces, nephews, and goddaughters. Even so, I go into Mama Bear mode if people say something I think is harmful to them. It's instinctive for a woman to protect those she loves even in the worst of circumstances. I don't grasp how that instinct died in the women in this sect. Even the women of the Holocaust protected their children under the most horrific conditions possible until the women died and were unable to. At that point, other women took over the care of the children. I don't get this at all. Of course, I guess it is a great sell for a book.

    May 2, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  37. Ellee

    Carolyn,
    This just sends chills though my soul. It simply must be stopped! Thank goodness for your bravery in getting out when you did.

    Hopefully the Texas govt. will see this thing through to the end, when all who want to escape can walk out , without any fear of retribution by misguided men, and all the children will no longer be submitted to these evil practices, and be given the protection they deserve as young children, to grow up without an iron hand hanging over their every move, when children can just be children, and not be punished for it. Let's pray this day will be sooner, rather than later.

    Keep up this important work and God bless you, Carolyn.

    May 2, 2008 at 8:35 pm |
  38. deborah,OH

    This is horrific!!! I can't even imagine such violence inflicted on children! If the children were returned to their parents, would they be 'punished' for having talked to the authorities?? Would the FLDS 'elders' consider the children as being 'disobedient' because of what happened? Very frightening stuff.

    May 2, 2008 at 8:05 pm |
  39. Jolene

    Carolyn: Thanks for sharing this story. It must be just as hard on you to rehash these memories as it is for me to read them. I don't even know what to say. It's horrendous and sad at the same time. I'm not sure who is worse, Warren Jeffs or Merril Jessop. They are both horrible men!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    May 2, 2008 at 7:41 pm |
  40. Mike in NYC

    Lesli wrote:

    "I just did a quick mental survey of my nieces and nephews in my husband and my family, and the children come up with a much higher than 1 or even 10% of them having had broken bones before the age of 16."

    The "1 percent" figure cited in the Editor's Note was ridiculous.

    Natasha wrote:

    "Just wanted to know how come there is no other race practicing this religion?"

    Assuming that your angle is simple anti-white racism, I would point out that polygamy and marriage of adolescents have existed around the world and throughout history.

    May 2, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  41. Genevieve M, TX

    It never fails to shock and anger me when I hear how about adults beating on children.

    I am very suprised that Cathleen did not "get even" with Barbara for what she did to Wendell.

    May 2, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  42. Natasha

    Just wanted to know how come there is no other race practicing this religion?

    May 2, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  43. Lesli

    What a horrific story Carolyn, to have to have been witness to. I feel sorry for all of these children and most of the women.

    Please consider though, that a great majority of children in the outside world are probably not as active as the children on the compound because they watch so much TV and play so many video games, so it is to be expected that the children from the compound would have higher frequencey of broken bones. I just did a quick mental survey of my neices and nephews in my husband and my family, and the children come up with a much higher than 1 or even 10% of them having had broken bones before the age of 16.

    May 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  44. Taj

    FLDS practices having several wives, a older man marrying a teen age girl & making babies, sexual or other type of absue of young children male or female does extreme psychological damage to the abused person. The scars are permanent & stays until they die. It is the distruction of mind, body & soul. It is a very dangerous practice & should be certainly stopped. The law enforcement & the courts are doing the right thing.

    May 2, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  45. KC, Texas

    WOW....after reading this story I swear I could hear Satan turning up the heat and singing for Jeffs and this feces of a male human Merril.

    Were ALL the men like this at this hell on earth?

    May 2, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  46. Charlotte D

    Reading this excerpt from Carolyn Jessop's book made me ill. The abuse and bullying that these women and children endure is beyond comprehension. And, yet they stay because of fear of damnation!!!! Our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, and this monster who is Merril tells Cathleen there will be no forgiveness for her. Unbelievable.

    As heartbreaking as it is for those parents to be separated from their children, I hope the State of Texas protects everyone of those children until the truth about life in this cult is known and documented. The mothers like Cathleen should not have their children back until they can truly protect their kids and themselves from their "husband and father." Thank you to the CPS workers and the lawyers who are working so hard for the children. And I know that the cult deserves its day in court, but how can those lawyers representing the cult face themselves in the mirror each morning? Unless they have totally swallowed the hogwash being perpetuated, there must be some real pain there because this is not about religious freedom, it is about the right to dominate others and subject them to whatever you want to.

    Charlotte D
    Stockton CA

    May 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  47. Vicky, Ontario, Canada

    It sounds like the Texas authorities are very seriously investigating all the types of abuse to which these children from FLDS "ranch" in Texas have been subjected. It would really seem that all the children are "at risk", when the teaching is that children must be obedient, and should be taught obedience in this way. From my perspective, it's really a perversion of Christianity, of any religion. Unfortunately, there are those who are outside of such a community, who also have the belief that taking out one's anger on children in this way is totally acceptable, and is justified as discipline. While the women, like the one you describe, have been programmed to believe this is required, there must be something deep within them that tells them that this is wrong. I could never hit a child, let alone beat them! What was different with your thinking and development within that closed society which led you to believe that this was not acceptable? I suspect poor little Wendell would only learn fear, to withdraw and recoil when adults approach, or would start to act-out and learn that hitting is an acceptable way to exert your will on others. It's a wonder that he survived at all! Is Wendell still within the group in Colorado Springs?

    May 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  48. Norma MacDonald

    Hello Carolyn, I salute you for your bravery and intelligence.I wish the very best for you and your children. Reading your story makes me angry and sick to my stomach.
    My story is one of childhood abuse,inflicted by men [ doctors ] and what they get away with is criminal.
    I think that pack of psychopaths you escaped from should be charged with " crimes against humanity".
    My heart goes out to those dear children .
    Stay strong.
    Norma

    May 2, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  49. Mimi In Chicago

    Wow, this is scary......

    May 2, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  50. Cindy

    That is absolutely sickening what they did to that little baby Wendell. If this is how they treat little babies and children and call it part of their religion then they are crazy! They all need to be in prison and their children taken away and never given back. This is just sick!!

    May 2, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
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