November 4th, 2009
12:28 PM ET

She escaped the FLDS, but her daughter wanted to return

Editor's Note: Today a former member of a polygamist group has taken the stand in the sexual assault trial of the first group member tried since Texas authorities raided the group's ranch last year.

The former member testified that jailed leader Warren Jeffs kept detailed notes on his interactions with church members because he believed God would hold him accountable. Jeffs' notes could become part of the prosecution's case against 38-year-old Raymond Jessop. He is charged with sexual assault of a child, stemming from his alleged marriage to an underage girl. We have been following this case ever since authorities arrested Jessop. Below, read a blog from one of our producers about meeting Carolyn Jessop - Raymond Jessop's fourth wife. She recounts her experiences in a book about her life on the FLDS ranch. Watch David Mattingly's report on the Jessop trial 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 eight and the fourth wife of a powerful FLDS man wanted out of the only life she knew. It was a rare moment. All of Jessop’s eight 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 four 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 eight 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.

Learn more about Carolyn's experience here.


Filed under: FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Ismael Estrada
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    I've read Carolyn's book and I would recommend it for anyone who is curious about the type of life this Mormon sect lives. It took a lot of courage to take that first step out of the lifestyle she had always known; and it took a lot of wisdom to let Betty return and keep the lines of communication open between her and her daughter – perhaps one day they will be able to have a more normal family relationship and lifestyle out from under the thumbs of the FLDS men.

    November 4, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  2. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    Scary to think you can take your children out of harms way but then they reach the age o adulthood and want to return to it and you can't do anything.

    November 4, 2009 at 5:49 pm |