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Researchers describe rape committed after Jeffs '15 worthy men' edict

Published May 5, 2014 10:56 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The interviews clearly showed the extraordinary control [Warren] Jeffs exercised over the community, remarkably in spite of the lack of his physical presence. In addressing this issue, one interviewee commented that for many community members hearing his voice (an issue to be subsequently addressed) provided sufficient cause for acting in accordance with his demands and acceding to new Revelations. These new Revelations espoused an end of the world prophecy on December 31, 2012, the removal of eight-year-old girls from their parents' home in order to prepare them for their future role as a sister wife, the transfer of newborn babies to new caretakers who subsequently rename them in order to erase their self- identity, and only fifteen 'worthy' men were permitted to impregnate women in the FLDS community (the woman's husband and others forcibly hold down his wife as one of the fifteen men rapes her).

— From "Polygamy: Not 'Big Love' but significant harm," by Julia Chamberlin and Amos N. Guiora, in the March edition of Women's Rights Law Reporter.

That paragraph and most of the academic article is about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There's a lot to digest in that paragraph. The item that jumped highest for me was the revelation of the 15 men.

The Tribune has heard talk of this for about two years. But all the talk was second-hand, or even farther removed, and there was conflicting information about whether it was true at all. Chamberlin and Guiora claim to have documented, through interviews with people who recently left the FLDS, that it is true.

But the rape was a new aspect I hadn't heard before. In a telephone interview last week, I asked Chamberlin, a recent University of Utah law graduate who is clerking for judges in Nevada, if she could elaborate.

Chamberlin said the rape was relayed during one or more of the interviews. She said there's no indication Jeffs specifically ordered rapes, "It's just kind of how it transpired after instructions."

Apparently, Chamberlin said, it was the husband's duty to ensure one of the 15 worthy men impregnated his wife or wives, thus the husband's participation in the rape.

The rape was not reported to law enforcement, Chamberlin said.

I wrote more last week about Chamberlin and Guiora's article.

— Nate Carlisle

Twitter: @tribunepolygamy