July 29th, 2008
09:30 AM ET

Justice for the children

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/28/art.fldsmugshots.jpg caption="The five men shown above turned themselves in after being charged with sexually assaulting a child at the Yearning for Zion ranch."]

Laura Palmer
AC360° Writer
Co-author, with Carolyn Jessop, 'ESCAPE'


Carolyn Jessop, bestselling author of ESCAPE, her memoir about life in the polygamist world of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, had just heard the names of the five men under arrest in Texas.

She knows the men who surrendered on Monday. Four face up to 99 years in prison on charges of sexually assaulting a child. Two of them were her stepsons, Ray Jessop, and Leroy Jessop. "It's heart-wrenching, but justice needs to be served if they have truly injured young girls as charged," she told me.

The fifth man, Dr. Lloyd Hammon Barlow, is charged with failure to report three counts of child abuse. He is a physician, with a Texas medical license in family practice, and a member of the FLDS.

"He was born and raised in polygamy, multi-generational, like I was. I went to school with Lloyd," Carolyn Jessop said of Barlow. "I gave him my old textbooks so he didn't have to buy them. I thought he was incredibly nice, very kind, gracious, good manners. If you met him, you'd see him as an incredibly nice person.

"That's what makes him dangerous," Carolyn added. "Texas was not out to lunch in taking these kids" from their homes during an investigation into sexual assault allegations at the FLDS compound. "People, I think will be outraged to think of a medical professional, a doctor, charged as being involved in hurting kids."

Carolyn's ex-husband, Merril Jessop, who runs the compound in Eldorado was not indicted. But she wonders if he might be by the time the criminal investigation is done.

"I am so happy that something is being done. I hope these men go to jail. These polygamist men are cowards," Carolyn told me. "They have only gotten to this level because no one has prosecuted them. This is how polygamy will stop, when other men see polygamists going to jail."

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • FLDS update • Laura Palmer
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Karen

    Ruth, This shocks me.

    "I can’t say I blame the men themselves for what they have done..."

    While I agree that of age mothers have an equal responsibility for protecting their children from harm, I do blame the men and so should you!

    July 30, 2008 at 6:58 am |
  2. Carol

    Annie – read the byline: This article was written by Laura Palmer – 360 writer – and co-author of Carolyn's book.

    My curiosity got the best of me – I had to check for answers to my post.

    July 30, 2008 at 12:30 am |
  3. Janna

    I'm very happy to hear that Dr. Barlow will be held accountable for not reporting the abuse. Also, I agree with Cindi- the mothers allowed the abuse to continue as well! I don't know...I'd like to hear more from Carolyn on the mindset of these women. They don't have a realistic concept of any other way of life. Do they even KNOW that they and their children are being abused? (Is it denial?) How did Carolyn know?

    July 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    @Carol – Carolyn Jessup as far as I know is not employed by CNN but is just used from time to time as an expert on the subject matter. 360 has no financial interest in her book.

    I'm glad they are arresting the men now and charging them; I had hoped that Willie Jessup would be one of them since he is in charge these days. Maybe there will be more arrests and indictments. These men are breaking the law with their polygamist unions and their statutory rape of minors. The children that are living now need to be protected but there also needs to be a long term solution so future children are not victimized by this practice either.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 29, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  5. ruth

    The FLDS is a misrepresentation of Christianity. They have values far different from that of what I personally believe to be right. I can't say I blame the men themselves for what they have done, but more rather blame the woman for allowing it to happen. Not the young women, but the wives and mothers. I want to see some of the women arrested who allowed this to happen along with the men. Both sexes are to blame. And could someone please tell me why they gave the children back. The problem with the law lately is that no matter the circumstances, it appears to protect the wrongdoers more than those who want to make a difference and abide by the law. The law protects those from wrongful persecution, but honestly, how many horrible acts need to take place in order for our country to understand its not about protecting the criminal, but the law should be used to protect our country's citizens.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  6. Carol

    Wow, I am so disappointed that you would censor my earlier posting about a 360 staffer writing this book that you have been promoting.

    Just out of curiousity, I went back through some of the earlier blog entries that included excerpts from the book. I thought that maybe the disclaimer had been there all along and I just didn't see it. But, no, there was no mention of 360's stake in the sale of this book.

    I am really surprised and disappointed. I guess "Keeping Them Honest" only applies to THEM but not to YOU.

    After this, I cannot believe anything that is said on the show or printed on the blog. I feel that everything is probably staged and manipulated for someone's gain.

    I'm done – I will never watch the show or read the blog again.

    July 29, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  7. Cindi

    II believe that the continued criminal investigation will lead to further indictments. I agree that it is finally time that other individuals besides Warren Jeffs be held accountable for their actions and their knowledge of underage marriages, sexual abuse (both girls and boys), physical abuse, welfare fraud, the list just goes on and on. But don't forget the women in this as well. They should be held accountable as well. I understand that this lifestyle and belief system is all they know, but bottom line is protect yourself and your children. If I could say anything to these people it would be, "Don't continue to live the lie. There is help out there if you will just be brave and accept it. Don't live your lives in fear!" Stop the abuse!!

    Carolyn, to you and the others who have managed to leave the sect and start a new life, I applaud you for your tremendous courage and persistence to be free from such horrible conditions.

    I wish I could help people in these circumstances realize they don't have to live that way! I hope the Federal Task Force can help bring these crimes to a hault and protect those who wish to find a better way to live without the fear for their personal safety or their loved ones or the belief they are sentenced to eternal damnation.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  8. Kim in NY

    This is how this should have been handled in the first place. And as Teresa mentioned, let's not for one second believe that these are the only under aged girls being sexually abused in this country.

    July 29, 2008 at 11:40 am |
  9. Avni

    Adrienne, I think you're missing the point. This is NOT between consenting adults.

    July 29, 2008 at 11:34 am |
  10. seah ohio

    I hope they lock them up and throw the key away.

    What remains, if the children who remain there, with the chance of being abused, mentally and Physically.

    The woman who remain their, being mentally abused and possible physical.

    The men being Mentally abused and taught that this is right.

    July 29, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  11. Stephan

    The case is finally coming to justice! I knew these children were in danger. The judges gave into the FLDS and didn't actually see these children were in danger. These children will hopefully be safe from abuse and be able to have dreams of their own and enjoy liberty away from america's "hell". Polygamy between adults is one thing, but marrying off underage children is a more serious sin! I hope these men will realize the sin they have created when they are in prison.

    July 29, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  12. Eilene Spear

    I read your book and when I finished it, I was crying and wanted to stand up and cheer. You are a living testament to how education and a belief in yourself can accomplish many things. We've got your back!

    July 29, 2008 at 11:24 am |
  13. Adrienne

    I find it a little strange that Carolyn seems just as concerned about stopping polygamy, if not more, than about the real issue of underage abuse.

    If people want to practice polygamy CONSENSUALLY, between adults, I don't see why that would be a problem in and of itself...

    Hope the children are doing well, and hope that these prosecutions will send a strong signal and stop the underage marriages in the FLDS.

    July 29, 2008 at 11:16 am |
  14. Teresa, OH

    "These polygamist men are cowards,” Carolyn told me. “They have only gotten to this level because no one has prosecuted them. This is how polygamy will stop, when other men see polygamists going to jail.” So very true.

    The older I get, the more I see clearly how men think so little of females and YET THEY CONTINUE TO USE THEM AND HIDE BEHIND THEM IN THE PUBLIC EYE. And it works most of the time.

    We have such a very long way to go to save females.

    Now that we've done the BLACK IN AMERICA issue, can we do the young, sexually exploited FEMALES IN AMERICA?

    July 29, 2008 at 11:10 am |
  15. Julie San Diego, CA


    When your life is over, you can sit back and reflect that you did something that mattered.

    When someone wrongs us, the only way to make sense of it and find peace is to make sure that it never happens to someone else. Then we're free.

    Thank you for having the courage to say "never again" and to back your words with actions. Because you told your story, somewhere out there, there is a child who will not lose her innocence.

    Thanks AC360 for continuing to follow this. I knew we hadn't gotten to the bottom of it yet. The FLDS has looked the other way when it comes to protecting their children. The state was justified in removing the kids to investigate. Those who still don't agree with that have not witnessed dysfunctional families that look perfectly normal to the outside world.

    You can't tell what goes on behind closed doors until you actually open the door and walk through it.

    July 29, 2008 at 10:05 am |
  16. Cindy

    I am glad that they finally arrested someone other than Jeffs for the sexual assaults on these little girls. It's about time. I hope that there are more to come! Maybe this will show them that they are not above the law no matter what they think or have been told.


    July 29, 2008 at 9:43 am |
  17. deborah, OH

    As many of us have mentioned on the AC360 blog–how are the children doing?
    I am very glad you have brought this question to light again.

    Thank you, Laura, for posting.

    July 29, 2008 at 9:37 am |