January 14th, 2009
05:34 PM ET

She escaped FLDS, but her daughter wanted to go back

Editor's Note: Watch Gary Tuchman's exclusive interview with the family tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/betty.jessop.flds.jpg caption="Betty Jessop at the FLDS compound."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/carolyn.and.betty.jessop.jpg caption="Carolyn Jessop at 22, feeding daughter Betty."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/carolyn.jessop.book.jpg caption="Carolyn Jessop's book on her experience." width=292 height=320]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

It was the moment Carolyn Jessop had been waiting for. The mother of 8 and 4th wife of a powerful FLDS man wanted out of the only life she knew. It was a rare moment. All of Jessop’s 8 children were home and her husband was not. She only had a few hours to gather her kids and leave the polygamist life where she was born and raised. She says she was desperately seeking a new life on the outside. She wanted to escape.

Carolyn Jessop broke free from a life of arranged marriage, polygamy and a male dominated and controlled society. She says she wanted more for her and her children. Jessop began a new life with her children outside the FLDS. Her kids attended public school and no longer practiced the religion with which they were raised.

After 4 years, when Carolyn’s daughter Betty turned 18, she told her mother this new life was not for her. Betty wanted to return to her former life. She was the only of the 8 children who desired to go back. Carolyn Jessop was shocked, but her daughter was now an adult and could make her own decisions. She says she had no choice but to let her return.

Since Betty’s return the family has had little contact. Carolyn says she doesn’t know how to get in touch with her daughter. Earlier this week, we were invited on the FLDS compound. We came across Betty while interviewing other mothers and children. She agreed to give us a short interview and we showed the tape to Carolyn. It was the first time Carolyn would see and hear from her daughter in over a year.

With an FLDS leader close by, Betty says she has forgiven her mother for taking her from the life she knew. That she is at peace now that she is back in the place she loves. She adds that she doesn’t think she’ll ever be with her mother and family again. Carolyn says she is confident one day, Betty will return to her and life outside the FLDS. Gary Tuchman has their story tonight at 10pm on AC360.

Filed under: FLDS update • Gary Tuchman • Polygamy
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Karen from Barranquilla, Colombia

    This is completely ridiculous!!!!!

    This Betty girl sure doesn't know what life's all about. I just hope that its not too late when she realizes that incredible mistake she has made, and she needs a way out urgently.
    I can only imagine what Carolyn must be going through, knowing and her daughter is living the life that she with enormous effort escaped.
    My thoughts and prayers are with them.

    January 14, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    That was really nice of you to get that interview for Carolyn so she could see her daughter at least on tape. I hope she gets to see Betty in person some and that communications become more open between them. The FLDS want the rest of the world to understand and sympathize with their "plight" but if they ban communication with family members who chose a different life style then they won't get very far. A religion that keeps families away from each other is more of a cult than anything else.

    January 14, 2009 at 7:46 pm |
  3. Teresa, OH

    Often, people that are taken from captivity into a life of freedom are so uncomfortable they "need" to go back for their sanity... or so they think. Sometimes, for some people, freedom is its own prison. Perhaps what Betty was really looking for was a more structured way of life.

    I hope she reunities with Carolyn and her siblings one day.

    I look forward to Gary's story tonight.

    January 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  4. Carol

    Please, not again! Are you EVER going to drop this story?

    The authorities in Texas have tried every way possible to pin something on this group – they can't. A few disgruntled women have written "shocking exposes" of their supposedly miserable lives within the FLDS. However, HUNDREDS of women are still living in the sect. They had the chance to leave when the Texas authorities raided the place last year – they didn't.... they stayed. If this is the way they want to live then, fine, let them. If kids were being mistreated, then CPS in Texas would've found something when they took all of the kids out. They didn't – the kids have been returned.

    Lately the news has been filled with stories about "memoirs" people have written that turn out to be false. The holocaust memoir, the American Indian memoir, the East LA memoir, the drug addiction memoir..... all turned out to be lies. If Oprah can be conned (and she was – twice!), 360 can be conned too. If this book is not pure fiction, then I'm sure it is highly exaagerated.

    Please don't waste any more time on this non-story.

    January 14, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  5. Sarah in FL

    wow....my heart goes out to Carolyn. I own her book.

    January 14, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  6. Alex

    Why is Carolyn's daughter's desire to return to the FLDS so surprising? When you are born and raised in a certain close society and not truly exposed to the negatives thereof, life elsewhere seems odd and more difficult to others. Thats the reason why so many who fall under this type of mind control don't get away from a setting that most believe is evil and wrong. I personally feel for Carolyn because she strikes me a beautiful person who only wants a good life for her daughter. But until her daughter makes that choice and "sees the light," she'll always feel our society is far more evil and difficult to live in than that farse of a religious sect called the FLDS.

    January 14, 2009 at 6:41 pm |