May 22nd, 2008
06:05 PM ET

Waves of Horror: Former FLDS member reacts

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/23/book.292.320.jessop.jpg caption="Carolyn Jessop is a former FLDS Member and Co-Author of Escape" width=292 height=320]

Carolyn Jessop
Former FLDS Member

I was shocked when I heard the news of the Texas Appellate Court ruling this afternoon.
Waves of horror washed over me at first as I thought that the children might have to be immediately returned. But that's not going to happen. This ruling will be appealed. It's not a knockout punch, but the FLDS obviously gained some ground today.

If those children go back to the complete, unsupervised control of the FLDS at the Yearning for Zion Ranch it would be like throwing gasoline on a fire that's already burning out of control. It would send a message that the FLDS can get away with any level of crime which would reinforce what society, through its inaction over the years, has reinforced for a very long time. The pattern in the FLDS is, from my experience, that once its leaders can get away with one level of crime they move on to the next.

I know from my conversations with those close to this case that Texas authorities feel they have found a system of abuse within the Eldorado compound. Remember the dozens of babies that were left unattended in a nursery? Or the news this week that 100 kids didn't match up with any parents in the compound? There will be more information about the physical and sexual abuse of these children when criminal charges are filed. A lot of evidence was taken out in the raid that investigators are still piecing together.

I've also been told that in many cases the feeling is that the children now in custody are making steady, if not great gains, in their foster placements. Returning the children to the compound when they are just beginning to feel safe and stable would be catastrophic.

A lot of feelings came rushing back to me this afternoon. Until I won full custody of my children, I felt like the legal system was set-up to protect the perpetrators and not their victims. I didn't feel that I could get protection for my kids.

As I wrote in Escape, there were times on weekend visitations their father would force my children to fast and pray for my death. I don't know if I have ever endured a more shattering experience.
Merril Jessop, my ex-husband, is now the most powerful man in the FLDS and running the compound in Texas.

Filed under: Carolyn Jessop • FLDS update • Polygamy
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Jaana

    Hi Carolyn!
    I am a mother of three from Finland, far away from Utah or Texas, but your story has been so interesting! After having read it I must say that I'm so terrified of situations women, and men too, have to live in these days. Not having right to have education enough is a devastating thing. Religions have always caused trouble and the more strick the rules the worse the situation. And thank you Carolyn for your book . It really opened my eyes: now I am more than ever before able to see how lucky I am.

    May 26, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  2. Amber

    I don't think we can paint everyone in the FLDS with the same brush. Do I believe there is child abuse going on? Definetly. Do I believe every FLDS child is abused? Nope. I think the state needs more time to do the case by case basis. Have the DNA results fully come back?

    How would you feel if you were the social worker that pulled one child out, left one behind, and found out later that the one left behind was abused?

    Due to the amount of children in the compound it will obviously take some time to determine which children need help. I for one would rather take them all (as Texas did) while sorting through than leave even one behind to suffer abuse.

    I think part of what Texas could do better is to put some of these children in foster care with FLDS members from other communities. CNN showed a great clip of an FLDS family in Arizona that appeared perfectly stable to me.

    The YFZ compound brought a lot of this on themselves. When you are soooo secretive and forboding to the rest of your community it will raise questions. You can be protective of your religious beliefs and keep family things private without putting up a big gate and men with guns. The Amish community does it everyday. As well as other mormons, polygamists etc.
    It is the nature of how YFZ presented themselves that caused such rampant speculation and concern.
    IF there is absolutely no abuse why can the children & mothers not be honest about who they are and their ages? I don't buy that they fear polygamist arrest because they generally only get 1 marraige license, the 'other wives' are social or spiritual.
    Honesty is the best policy- the mothers who truly want their children back need to be honest about their ages and biological children. It is the fastest way.

    May 24, 2008 at 4:32 am |
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