The niece of recently sentenced Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) leader Warren Jeffs expressed relief that he had been jailed for his crimes and satisfaction that she had helped put him in prison during a recent ABC News interview.
Jerusha Jeffs did not publicly reveal that she herself had been a victim of Jeffs’ until her testimony during his trial. The sect leader was convicted August 4th on charges he forced two very young teenagers into marriages and fathered a child with one of the girls when she was just 15. Jerusha Jeffs described in disturbing detail how Jeffs manipulated the children he preyed upon.
She broke down describing abuse that occurred during her childhood, recounting that she’d been raped by Jeffs at the age of seven:
“Warren told me to come sit on his lap and I didn’t know why… He said, ‘You’re a special girl’ and that he would help me to go heaven. And he had a certain way of making me feel like I was special and he told me I’ll go to heaven if I, for sure, just don’t tell anybody.”
Jerusha Jeffs is now in her twenties and living in Salt Lake City. Although she suppressed the abuse for nearly twenty years, she says the memories haunted her after she watched a documentary about boys escaping FLDS sects. However, Jeffs says, growing up in a family with three moms and 19 kids is still a happy memory for her:
“It was never a dull moment, ever,” she said. “I mean I had a really great childhood.”
55-year-old Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for four decades. His niece currently works with an outreach program for former FLDS members struggling to transition to mainstream society.