Will Warren decide if Willie Jessop will or won't be written a check for $30 million after a recent court judgement? Or will Lyle Jeffs or John Wayman? Does anyone know who is running this organized crime family at this point? Is it being run from a state prison in Texas? Is it run from the YFZ?
For those of you who have never interacted, on any real life level, with active members of the FLDS, let me share a story with you.
On February 6, 2009 I traveled to the Tom Green County Courthouse, in San Angelo, to attend a hearing regarding a 12 year-old girl child in Texas custody, who was the identified victim of sexual abuse. She was the girl remembered best as the tiny child in the arms of Warren Steed Jeffs, pictured as the recipient of a deep kiss by her new "husband."
As I was getting out of my truck that day, another truck pulled in beside me, and out came two women and a man. One of the women was dressed professionally, and the other was obviously a member of the FLDS, whom I had never met. I walked some distance behind them, and the man was walking close to the FLDS woman. The two were in discussion. The professional looking woman was lugging her purse and some bags.
As the group of three reached the steps of the courthouse, I watched the man and FLDS woman start up the steps ahead of the woman I now presumed to be his assistant, since she struggled with the bags all by herself, all the way up the courthouse steps.
When I got to the top of the steps still behind them, the security guard inside the courthouse asked me to place my bag in the bin in front of me for x-ray, which I did. Then he asked if I had a cell phone, which I said I did.Then he asked me if I was an attorney, and I replied quite clearly so the group of the three in front of me could hear, "No. I'm not an attorney. I'm an anti-polygamy activist."
You could have heard a pin drop in the lobby of the courthouse. The three had stopped speaking and were staring at me. The guard explained I had to turn over my cell phone and I would sign to get it back, if I left the courthouse. I turned it over and filled in the log. Then I walked to the end of the table to wait for my bag to come through the xray machine. And I waited. Finally I said to the guard, "Excuse me but where is my green bag?" He looked at me, suddenly seeming uncomfortable and said, "I don't know. You don't have it?"
The feeling of panic that swept over me was almost indescribable as I frantically started looking around the lobby, and finally my eyes came to rest on the back of the man with the two women. There he was, standing in front of the elevator, holding MY BAG!
"He's got it!" I yelled, and pointed. The guard looked over at him and the man looked at the elevator door which was opening, and back to me, then chuckled and started walking back towards us at the x-ray table. He extended the bag out to my reach and said it was an honest mistake and he was just trying to help his friend carry things.
I took it back, standing there clutching it, and just flabbergasted at the audacity. I had, moments before, watched him completely ignore his assistant's struggles all the way up a flight of steep courthouse steps, and sheer seconds after finding out who I was, he was in possession of my bag heading for an elevator. And I was supposed to believe it was an honest mistake, because he possessed some sort of chivalrous, gentlemanly or mannerly nature? Not by my observation, he didn't.
Upon entering the court room where the hearing was to be held, I discovered the man, who had almost absconded with my bag, and the two women with him, had taken the seats at the table reserved for defendants. I then sat right behind them on the first row. As the court room began to fill, the man decided to stand up and start introducing himself to people, "Hello, my name is Brett Pritchard, and I represent Barbara Jessop, and you are?"
The room was becoming ever more crowded and Willie Jessop came in with an FLDS woman and they sat right behind me. Then Merril Jessop came in, and came and sat right next to me. I was behind Barbara, next to Merril and backed by Willie. Mr. Pritchard eventually looked over at me and asked me who I was, and I repeated that I was an anti-polygamy activist. He sat down in his seat, threw me a backwards glance and smiled, then jokingly asked me if I were going to jump up with a sign soon and start protesting in the courtroom. I leaned back, crossed my arms, smiled and said, "Oh, no sir. That's not my style. That's not my style at all."
That was the hearing where I watched Texas give that child to a polygamist relative. That was the hearing where I sat behind a woman who had knowingly and willingly handed her baby over to be raped by a pedophile, because she believes he is a "prophet." Did I think about reaching out and yanking her head backwards by that long braid? Heck yes! But I didn't do it.
I think the real question here, considering the record of the FLDS and those who work for them should be, 'What will they not do?'
I will leave it to the FLDS to decide what my style is, but no one, not the FLDS and not the state of Texas can say that I have not acted in a respectful manner, especially considering what I have so far got back for my efforts.
Written by: K. Dee Ignatin - K. Dee is the Executive Director at Americans Against Abuses of Polygamy, a non profit organization.
We have other great articles she has written in the blog!