For the first time, Warren Jeffs’ kids allege abuse at the hands of the imprisoned Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (or FLDS) cult leader. Jeffs’ children Becky and Roy Jeffs, now adults, have come forward to claim sexual abuse during their childhoods, reports Fox 13 Now. Warren Jeffs is currently incarcerated in Texas. He was convicted in 2011 of two counts of felony sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to life plus 20 years for his crimes.
The minors, whose abuse Jeffs was convicted of, were among those wives, known as “spiritual wives,” in the FLDS community. The marriages are solely “spiritual” in nature because only the first of plural marriages are recognized and licensed by states. The wives he was convicted of sexually assaulting were kids at the time their abuse occurred, 12 and 15 years old, respectively.
The child abuse alleged by Jeffs’ kids reportedly took place when they were minors, too. Becky Jeffs stated she came forward about her abuse to one of her sisters when that sister told her that she’d been the victim of sex abuse as a child. Becky and Roy Jeffs are two of Warren Jeffs’ estimated 60 children, whom he fathered with his 78 wives.
“I thought, I’m not the only one molested, he’s done it to her it must be something that was in his nature. Where does it end? If he had this in him, how can I trust him? How is he really our prophet?”
Jeffs’ kids will allege their abuse publicly on an upcoming premiere of Lisa Ling’s new CNN program This is Life, which will air on the news network on Wednesday evening. Jeffs’ legal team has not yet responded to the newest allegations of child sex abuse against the self-proclaimed “prophet.”
Both of Jeffs’ kids who currently allege abuse were formerly members of the highly secretive FLDS cult. The cult recently made news when one of its primary populations, centered in Hildale, Utah, was devastated by the deadliest flash flood in the state’s history. In the aftermath of the disaster, which took the lives of 14 people, the husbands/fathers of the victims (many of whom were kids) used the opportunity to air their grievances with the State of Utah over a property dispute.
Becky and Roy Jeffs have both now left the FLDS community, something that’s notoriously difficult to do. Despite rampant abuse rumors, the insular communities that largely straddle the Utah/Arizona state line have proven difficult to penetrate. Many kids have reportedly been victimized, something apparent to both states when they get their hands on “church” records that indicate child brides and kids born to the same. Despite the fact that it’s not uncommon for those who escape to allege abuse, kids of both genders, along with their mothers, often find themselves trapped in the communities and culture. It was such claims of abuse that led to Texas’ failed raid on the Yearning For Zion FLDS compound in that state. Unfortunately, the insular culture and FLDS members’ fear of “worldly” outsiders made the claims impossible to substantiate beyond a reasonable doubt.
Rumors of abuse, books that allege abuse, ex-members who allege abuse, an apparent culture of abuse, and even being convicted and imprisoned for life for abuse have done little to lessen Jeffs’ hold on the members of the cult.
Even though Jeffs is sitting in prison, most likely for the rest of his life, he is still the recognized leader of the FLDS cult. Most of the cult’s members, kids included, follow his edicts, which are issued from prison. He has an unknown number of loyal followers on the outside, many of whom reside in the Hildale/Colorado City, Arizona, area, who are more than happy to relay and enforce his edicts, whether they would constitute abuse to an outsider or otherwise. Members of the cult believe they will be parted from their families in the afterlife if they don’t comply with Jeffs’ orders. They are threatened with excommunication from the cult for any disobedience even if that “disobedience” is following secular law.
Part of the reason that abuse of kids goes so unchecked in the FLDS cult is that the vast majority of the members live in cities/compounds where the police, judges, and all authority figures are FLDS members. Behaviors that may be construed as abuse outside of these compounds become par for the course in the insular communities. Kids are raised with little or even no outside influence. Victims of abuse have nowhere to turn to if they want to allege that they were victimized. Police officers and judges are more likely to send kids who are victims of abuse back to their home situation than intervene.
Many members of the cult know nothing other than what they’re indoctrinated with, which is largely one of abuse. They lack the education to even understand that there is another way of life out there, let alone resources available to help them out of the allegedly abusive lifestyle within the FLDS cult, reports Al Jazeera America. Organizations such as Holding Out HELP exist solely to help victims of FLDS abuse get out of the cycle of abuse.
“I was sexually abused by him from the age of 3. The stuff he was on trial for — he started that with our family years before.”
One can only hope that the strength shown by the Jeffs children will give other kids, other victims of abuse, the courage to come forward. When kids allege abuse, often society finally steps in.
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