Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 12, 2007


Host: Ted Simons

Jeffs' Author


  • Carolyn Jessop is an escapee of Warren Jeffs' polygamous FLDS cult. Jessop talks with HORIZON's Merry Lucero about her marriage at age 18 to a man more than three times her age. She explains her flight with her eight children from the abusive, polygamous marriage and why she wrote about it in her book, "Escape".
Guests:
  • Grant Woods - Former Arizona Attorney General
  • Carolyn Jessop - Former member of FLDS polygamou family
  • Terry Goddard - Arizona Attorney General


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," what Phoenix is doing to shed its label as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants? We'll hear from a woman who escaped the polygamist community led by Warren Jeff's. And Attorney General Terry Goddard talks about the charges Jeff's faces here in Arizona. Those stories are next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Good evening, I'm Ted Simons. Welcome to "Horizon." Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has done an about face on police policy regarding immigration status of those accused of a crime. For the past 20 years, Phoenix has had a policy of notifying federal immigration officials only when a person is being accused of a serious crime. That is changing. The mayor has appointed a panel of former prosecutors who will look into policy changes to allow police to contact immigration and customs enforcement for any violation of law. The panel consists of former U.S. attorneys Paul Charlton and Jose Rivera, former Maricopa County attorney Rick Romley, and former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods who is here to tell us more about the panel's job. Almost didn't recognize you there. The panel, advisory panel, what are you advising and what are you looking at?

Grant Woods:
We're looking at the policy here. We will work with the city and with the police in particular and see if we can't come up with something that makes more sense, and maybe reflects how the community has changed.

Ted Simons:
This operations order 1.4, was that a good idea to begin with?

Grant Woods:
He think it was okay during the time that it was first implemented. A lot of it was a response to what went on in chandler. People have to remember that chandler round-up, which when I was A.G., we got heavily involved and blew the whistle on that thing. That was bad. That was something that no city wanted to repeat. What was going on in chandler was people were being pulled over because of the color of their skin or because they spoke Spanish or they were being stopped because they came out of a Spanish market or something like that. And everybody pretty much agreed that we want that to stop. We don't want that to be the policy in Phoenix or any place else.

Ted Simons:
How do you avoid racial profiling in general? If police for any reason whatsoever have the option to ask for identification.

Grant Woods:
Well, I don't think we will go that far. I don't think we will say that police can ask just because they feel like it for somebody's papers or for their identification. I don't support that. I don't think we'll go that far. I think that probably the areas we have to look at, and we're listening to everybody we can listen to here from the police chief and the management to the unions to the general public. We look at crimes. We look at felonies in particular to start out with a serious crimes. Right now they can check status on that and call immigration. What about misdemeanors? Right now they don't. Should they be able to call immigration if somebody is arrested on a misdemeanor? I think they should. We will see where we come down on that. What about traffic? It gets more problematic here. If you allow them to ask someone's status that you pulled over on a traffic offense, then you open the door wide open for pretense stops, in other words, the cop can pull somebody over and say well, you were weaving or you were this or that, and the real reason is that he wants to check their papers basically. We have to work through that. That is a tough issue. And then lastly, what about people who contact the police? What about witnesses? What about passengers in cars? Should they will able to ask any of those people for identification? Those are the issues. We're trying to come up with a reasonable policy. It is going to be tougher there is to question. The reason it will be tougher is because the community has changed over the last 10, 15 years, and the policy needs to change with it.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned witnesses and you mentioned passengers and these sorts of things, overriding concerns from critics is that people will not go to the police now even they think there is a slight possibility that their identification will be questioned, and police work will be more difficult for serious/violent crimes. How do you address that?

Grant Woods:
That is a big challenge. It is a challenge today even with that policy that is in place, it's a challenge. Because if you are here illegally, we still want you to be able to contact the police if you are the victim of a crime, if you witness a crime and you can help solve a crime, and not be afraid that they're going to bust you because you're here illegally. First I'm confident we will say under no circumstances can you ask for the identification or the papers or anything else of somebody who is a witness or a victim or someone who proactively contacts the police. I don't know if that alone will solve it. If we change the policy, it is going to certainly have an impact on this community such that there will be more reluctant to call the police. We don't like that. Maybe there is other things we can do

Ted Simons:
You mentioned the dynamics of this issue have changed. From where you sit, do you think the mayor did the right thing?

Grant Woods:
I think he did the right thing in saying we need to change the policy, and, you know, frankly I think that the police chief was getting ready to change the policy. I'm not quite sure about the timing on all of this. Regardless, it's time -- I believe it is time for the policy to change. And to add I think as a community -- I think we need leadership on this issue. Most people don't want to touch this at all because it is a loser. And it is probably a loser for all of us who are involved. But we need to rise above that and deal with it, and say this. You know, we've lived here our whole lives, right? It is different today, I believe. I believe things have changed in the community. We have such a presence in the community of people here illegally that we did not have before, and that has a lot of ramifications. That doesn't mean that we have to overreact. It doesn't mean that we have to demonize people, that we don't respect people's human rights. It also doesn't mean that we have to say we're not going to do anything. It is okay to say things have changed, and so we need to change policies. For example, on day laborers, all of our lives we have seen people drive the pickup to the guys on the corner, they talk and get in and help out in the yard or whatever. That has always gone on. No one has said a word about it. We have decided as a community we don't want that to go on anymore. It needs to stop. That's okay. So we stop it. That doesn't mean the guys still trying to do it lost in the transition are bad guys. It means we are going to change. On this thing here, we don't want people to be stopped by the police or questioned by the police because of the color of their skin or because they speak Spanish. We're going to fight hard against that. Having said that, if the police pull somebody over, if somebody shoplifts at bash's, and they're here illegally, I want to get them out of the country. We don't want them here. Drunk drivers, DUI's, they don't call immigration now. We don't want them here. If they're here illegally, let's get them out. It's okay to say we're going to change. We need to do it in an intelligent, thoughtful way and we need a transition.

Ted Simons:
Quickly, the panel's recommendation is due by the end of the year?

Grant Woods:
By the end of the year if we can do it.

Ted Simons:
Thank you very much.

Ted Simons:
At age 18, Carolyn Jessop was given an arranged polygamous FLDS marriage to a man more than three times her age. She was his fourth wife and had eight children in a span of 12 years. After 17 years in the abusive plural marriage, she fled Colorado City in the middle of the night with her children, ages two to 15. Merry Lucero spoke with Jessop about her escape, the book she authored about her ordeal, and the women and children who still need help in the fundamentalist Mormon communities.

Merry Lucero:
Thank you for joining me here on "Horizon." going back to sort of your beginnings, you were born into an FLDS polygamous family, what were you taught as a little girl about polygamy and the life-style?

Carolyn Jessop:
I was told that we were a special chosen, people, and the only people on the earth that god was even working with, and it was quite an elitist religion.

Merry Lucero:
When you turned 18, what were you thinking to yourself when you were told at 18 you were going to be married off to a man who was 50 years old, you would be his third wife, were you shocked and horrified at what was going to happen to your life?

Carolyn Jessop:
I was shocked and horrified, but polygamy seemed normal because everybody that I knew in the society that I grew up in lived it and it was supposed to be the better way to live. Occasionally an older man would get a younger wife like this but it didn't happen very often. When it was happening to me, I was in a state of horror. Even though you see it happen before, you always think it just happens to somebody else. So, it was terrifying really. And the night my father told me I was going to marry Jessop, I felt every good thing ended that night and there was no way to stop it.

Merry Lucero:
You were living in such a violent and abusive, stressful home life, what was the key to your survival through all of that?

Carolyn Jessop:
Part of it was resilience, not just allowing circumstances to take me down and feel defeated. I kept thinking I could rise above it and find a better way. And when I finally realized I couldn't, I started looking at my daughters and I realized I did not want them to live the kind of life I had lived. And that was a significant turning point for me where I started questioning the way I had been raised and my belief system and how could something that was of god be so ugly and so abusive.

Merry Lucero:
The level of abuse that goes on towards the children in the community, was that something that was just a continuously building kind of, you know, norm in that community?

Carolyn Jessop:
It is a norm within the society. It is a highly controlled, highly secretive society, and you have to have that kind of dominance and control over your children and family. You resort to a lot of extreme measures to have that kind of control and that usually involves violence. And within the society, what aggravates this problem or makes it worse is that there are no limits. There is no point where you've gone too far because a man has the right to receive divine revelation from god, and has god to him to discipline a child in this way, or discipline a wife in this way, then who is to question him?

Merry Lucero:
Starting your book with the stories of your escape, your desperation level at that time. Was there the same desperation level in the community? Had it escalated to that point because of the Jeff's family coming into power and the leadership of Warren Jeff's?

Carolyn Jessop:
Things changed when his father took over and they progressively spiraled from there. But they got goofy and bizarre when he took over. He always had this insane side to him. It got so bad it was like I would get up in the morning and I didn't know what freedom we would lose that day. He would mandate that nobody could wear red and every red thing had to be destroyed and we had to get rid of it immediately. One day he decided that all dogs in the community had to be destroyed, they had to be taken to the pound, and he sent men around the community to round up the dogs and they shot them. Bizarre things, come out of the blue and out of no where. No explanation for why. And you cannot question. The society was spiraling into a direction that I felt very dangerous to me. And that's why the book starts with that level of intensity is that I felt like I wasn't safe any longer in this community and I didn't believe my children were either.

Merry Lucero:
What are your thoughts on the trial and conviction of Warren Jeff's as an accomplice to rape and his sentence as well?

Carolyn Jessop:
I have seen a huge difference in this community in just the last year since he has been behind bars. The community is coming back to life. Two years ago I went through the community and you didn't see anybody walking on the streets, nobody was growing gardens. Everybody was locked in their homes. It was like driving through a ghost town. Just a few months ago when I went down and drove through the community, people were growing gardens, cleaning their yards. There were children playing out in the yard. There were kids riding bikes. It is like the community is coming back to life and you can feel that the oppression is lifting and that there is just a little bit of norm and security and comfort coming back to daily life there. However, there are still underage marriages occurring and still a lot of crime occurring, and, you know, Warren is part of the problem. The reality is that this society created Warren. And they created a lot of men like him that are also dangerous. And it is just a matter of time until somebody else steps in and takes over and takes society in another bizarre direction, putting him behind bars was very necessary move, but more needs to be done. Like right now the children are not in school. Warren took all of the kids out of school when he went into prison. He pulled them all out of public schools and put them in a private religious school. They were basically being brain washed. And that has been going on since the year 2000. Now once he went to prison and he told everybody to not -- to close down all of the private schools, so now we're going into two years of the children in this community having no education whatsoever. And so there is some issues like that that are like emergency issues that need to be addressed right now. Society can't continue to ignore this. We will have a whole generation in this community that will be functionally illiterate. We have huge problems on the horizon unless this is dealt with.

Merry Lucero:
Who can deal with it, come forward and say these children have to go to school?

Carolyn Jessop:
They have to make laws. Right now there are no laws on the books to deal with this problem. They need to make laws in the state of Utah and Arizona that will address the specific problem going on within this community and require the parents to put their kids into a school.

Merry Lucero:
What are your thoughts or Warren Jeff's mental breakdown while he is in prison and him saying that he is not the prophet and becoming suicidal?

Carolyn Jessop:
I wasn't at all surprised to see that reaction, because he has limited coping skills with reality. But as far as the community goes, it is not making that much of an impact, if any, because people are being isolated away from that confession, and then they're also being told that there is elements that have occurred that are a test -- that people will turn against the one true prophet of god. He has taken the community to a level of tyranny, where something has to give.

Merry Lucero:
Carolyn, why did you write this book? What do you ultimately want people to take away after reading it?

Carolyn Jessop:
I started doing public speeches after I had been out for a little over a year to try to educate of what was going on and how serious the problems and there is more help needed for a woman like myself who wants to leave the society with a large family. It is one thing for me to stabilize and take the family -- there are too many people being hurt and victimized, and I want to be a voice for that, and I want people to know that it is not okay and something needs to be done. The problem has been ignored far too long. My life would have never happened if this problem wouldn't have been ignored. I just have enough faith in the American public that if they really knew what was occurring that they would do something about it. And that's my hope and that's why I wrote the book is to make a difference.

Merry Lucero:
Carolyn Jessop, thank you so much for joining me.

Carolyn Jessop:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Warren Jeff's was convicted of being an accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl. He's now serving time in the Utah state prison. Jeffs also faces charges in Arizona. Here to talk about that, as well as some other issues, is Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard. Terry, good to have you here. The case against Warren Jeff's, as far as Arizona is concerned, where does that stand?

Terry Goddard:
It is in process. The charges have brought in Mohave County, and we expect to have him transferred to Arizona sometime early next year.

Ted Simons:
Same charges?

Terry Goddard:
No, they are similar but they are not the same changes. The statute that they charged him under in Utah doesn't apply in Arizona. So we have other charges essentially sexual abuse of a minor, conspiracy to commit sexual abuse with a minor and incest.

Ted Simons:
Is the investigation continuing?

Terry Goddard: We are looking for other complaining witnesses. That's part of the -- part of what Carolyn Jessop stands for is the fact that now there are women from Colorado City and Hilldale, the city across the Utah line, who now have the courage thanks to people like, courageous people like Carolyn Jessop to step forward and speak their mind and talk about the abuse that they suffered. And that I believe will result in additional charges.

Ted Simons:
This sentence that Jeff's received, your response to it, fair?

Terry Goddard:
Well, I think it's fair. Utah has a different way of sentencing than Arizona. We know he has a minimum of ten years and that's a lot in any book. I personally think that it is modest compared to the extraordinary crimes that he committed literally against thousands of people, not just against the individual victims, but I think Carolyn Jessop in your film segment spoke very powerfully about the kind of mind control and the unbelievable arbitrary abuse that people suffered in Colorado City and in Hilldale.

Ted Simons:
Is this the beginning of the end do you think for the FLDS?

Terry Goddard:
I can't say that. I have to remind you that this is 100 year plus tradition. And the fall of one man, Warren Jeff's, will not destroy that tradition. There will be someone following him as the prophet. But there have been many changes which I think are very positive for the future. Not only do you have people speaking out like Carolyn Jessop, writing a book, making her story known. That's new. We haven't had a lot of that before with people escaping with their children, eight children in this case, and she has custody of all of them. No longer does he control the schools. Although you heard from Carolyn that children haven't been going to school for a year and a half under orders of Warren Jeff's. There is a tragedy brewing right there that we need to deal with. In addition to that, he used to control the city and the Marshall's office and he doesn't any more. The United Effort Trust, a huge charitable trust was taken away by the state of Utah and put into a trusteeship, so the church, successor prophet doesn't control that either. That is what gave him so much power of taking their houses away from them if they disobeyed.

Ted Simons:
What about the children not going to school?

Terry Goddard:
I disagree with Carolyn Jessop, there are truancy laws. It is a question of enforcement. I have written letters -- and I was there. I saw the empty schools and immediately wrote off to the superintendent of instruction in Mohave County, this appears to be a willful removal of almost 1,000 children from primary and secondary schools. It's an abomination. These are kids who will not be equipped to compete in today's world.

Ted Simons:
There are still those who say that the states in general, counterpart in Utah, going after a religion, going after a faith. Separate if you can a faith and what is going on in Colorado City?

Terry Goddard:
What we have said from the beginning and believe that this is an issue of child abuse. We heard about them for years, and we had to find courageous witnesses who would come forward and be willing to go to court, and I can't say enough about the courage of the young lady in Utah who was in protective custody for a year and a half before she testified against Warren Jeff's. Witnesses in Arizona, similarly very courageous people. So that's the beginning. It is an extraordinarily difficult task to turn an entire civilization, entire culture, which has existed outside of the rule of law and to try to re-impose law. We are not talking about culture of their religion, we're talking about the abuse of children, the abuse of young men, lost boys thrown out of their families by order of the prophet so there would be enough women available for the polygamous older men. That is a child abuse issue, not a religious issue.

Ted Simons:
The separation between the child abuse and the religion, and polygamy in general, is that something that most of us, and we talked a little before the show, how it is so difficult for us to understand what goes on up there, the mindset of not only the leaders, but those who follow.

Terry Goddard:
It truly is, because this is an organization -- I won't characterize it as a religion, although it has religious aspects, emphasized absolute obedience as the primary virtue. From the cradle children grow to think that the only thing they have to do and most important thing they have to do is to be absolutely obedient to somebody who they believe is the word of god incarnate. When he goes on trial and goes to prison, that is a shattering experience for people who have grown up in that culture. I don't think any of us can understand how devastating that must be to somebody. It is rocking the community to its very base, foundations. What Carolyn said, frankly I haven't seen, which is a renewal in Colorado City. They don't communicate with me or my office. So her message of hope just now was very reassuring, because apparently people are putting their lives back together. And that is very good.

Ted Simons:
Are you optimistic for change up there?

Terry Goddard:
I'm optimistic. It is not going to happen overnight. It will not be because of the conviction of one man; it is for people like Carolyn Jessop and people to bring law and social services to the people of Colorado City who haven't had them for 100 years.

Ted Simons:
Thank you.

Terry Goddard:
Thank you very much.

Mike Sauceda:
A new employer sanctions lawsuit has been filed after the first one is tossed out by a federal judge. It is aimed at county attorneys who will be enforcing the law, hear from an attorney working on the suit and plus get an update of the business of bioscience in our state.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us on "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Have a great evening.

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If you have comments about "Horizon," please contact us at the addresses listed on the screen. Your name and comments may be used on a future edition of "Horizon."

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