First a disclaimer: This is a disturbing post, and if you choose to follow the links provided here it is even more difficult to deal with. As difficult as it is to read, please, please remember that this was reality for not only the two little girls spoken of here, but many, many others.
If this is too hard to see or hear, try to imagine what it must have been like to experience. Kind of makes your stomach turn, doesn’t it?
As many of you are already well aware, Warren S. Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence plus twenty years in prison for a 2011 conviction on two felony counts of child sexual assault. One of those charges were the result of recorded evidence he had with him at the time of his August 2006 arrest. “Marriage” records as well as a sound recording of the ritualistic rape of his then 12-year-old “wife.” Warren was over 50 years old at the time, and this 12-year-old girl was only the newest addition to his harem of over 70 “spiritual wives.”
Only 24 days after her twelfth birthday, she became Warren Jeffs’ wife.
Eleven days later, on August 7, 2006, Warren recorded the “ordinance,” performed with the assistance of at least two others of his “wives.”
He speaks one wife’s name: Naomie. (Naomie is Merrianne’s older sister)
For those with a strong stomach the transcription can be found here, and the recording can be found here. Above is a picture of the bed he had custom built (according to these directions: temple bed) for the purpose of orgies and rape in the temple – he gives some disturbing details.
This all brings a pretty vivid and disturbing mental picture to mind. Warren, as this young girl’s prophet – a man that she had been taught her entire life spoke for and with God – abused his position to exploit her innocence and violate her, and others.
Yet, he was only charged with “child sexual assault.” That seems insufficient, considering what this girl endured.
And no one else who was involved in tying this little girl down and assisting in her rape has faced any consequences whatsoever for their involvement. Absolutely despicable.
But then there’s this case that a friend sent to me the other day.
In this scenario, an Ohio mother is sentenced to life in prison for assisting in the rape of her 12-year-old daughter.
At first I thought, “Okay, life sentence vs life sentence. There’s some degree of consistency here.” But then I remembered that this article is talking about the girl’s mother. She assisted and enabled the rape of her child. She held her down. Sounds pretty comparable to those who tied down their own little sister, and sister-wife, so their “husband” could rape her.
So, why are those women still running around free today?
I can’t help but think that there’s one major difference between these stories and that is RELIGION. Warren Jeffs raped children because GOD told him to. The tying and ritual rape of a 12-year-old was billed as a “sacred” religious ordinance. In the other story, I suppose it was just a perverted old man who wanted to have sex with a child, and a woman who failed her own baby – not only allowing it to happen, but helping the perpetrator.
I’m sure that if you were to interview her she would likely say it was because she was afraid not to. Perhaps afraid that he’d leave her, or beat her, or something. The parents of these little girls who Warren Jeffs “married” as wives to himself and other old men were afraid too. But because GOD is involved, they got away with it.
Don’t get me wrong. I know, all too well, the belief that caused these parents to hand over their female children to old men, and the harm that those beliefs and resulting fears produce. It’s the same fear that cause parents to drop their male children off in distant towns to fend for themselves in a world they aren’t prepared to survive in. The fear of GOD, the fear of MEN, and the fear of consequences that come upon the heads of those who don’t perfectly obey.
Two cases of 12-year-old girls being betrayed by their parents, violated by much older men, with the assistance of those who should have been their greatest protectors. In one story, nearly everyone gets away with it. The rapist only gets charged with child sexual assault. But at least in the other both parties received punishment. That child, for whatever reason, was seen as worth more to the judicial system. That child received some degree of justice for the crimes perpetrated against her – at least she’s not still in their power.
My question is how can we get the world to see that there is no real difference between these two crimes? How can we get the judicial system to understand that child brides in religious communities are just as worthy of protection and vindication as any other victim in this country? How can we break through the willful blindness of people when it comes to “religious freedom” being used as a tool to exploit, abuse and destroy innocence?
This is a picture of Merrianne, who at 12-years-old, still a child, was bartered off by her father to Warren Jeffs, and then given back to her family by the Texas officials. Why didn’t she get protection and safety?
There must be some way. Because there are hundreds of girls who deserved to have a childhood and not be raped by men old enough to be their father or grandfather.