When Rebecca Musser set out on what would become a four-year task of testifying against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs and his followers, it meant facing people she knew.
"People I grew up with and I had a great deal of love for [were] looking at me as if I was Satan's child," she said.
Before the start of the first trial, "I was very, very much alone," she said. "Even those closest to me made it known I was very much alone."
But as the only wife of former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints prophet Rulon Jeffs to leave the group and speak out, she had a unique set of qualifications.
In her first public speech in Utah since she left the FLDS, Musser, who is in her 30s, said she has purposely stayed out of the public eye during the felony trials, the last of which wrapped up this week.
"I could do more good and make much more of a difference by being anonymous to the world," she said.
Musser spoke Wednesday as part of an event organized by Sheros, a organization founded in November to honor women who "have overcome extreme obstacles," founder Celeste Gleave said.
Musser was married at age 19 to Rulon Jeffs, then in his 80s. She left the sect after his death, as his son Warren Jeffs came to power.
"There was a point where I thought, 'No more of this. If this is heaven, then give me hell because I don't want that heaven,'" she said.
Musser first testified against Warren Jeffs in 2007, when he went to trial in Utah for presiding over the marriage between her then-14-year-old sister Elissa Wall and their 19-year-old cousin. His conviction in that case was later overturned.
Musser answered a call to assist investigators in Texas during a massive raid on the group's Yearning for Zion Ranch in 2008. Afterwards, a dozen men were charged with offenses including sexual assault and bigamy.
Musser interpreted the sect documents that formed the basis of the evidence against them. She was the only non-police witness in the guilt or innocence portion of Waren Jeffs' trial on sexual assault of a child charges in two marriages to underage girls.
Since his conviction and life prison sentence, Jeffs has accused Musser of lying in his so-called revelations from God, which his followers copy and send out by the thousands around the country.
"It was never about the conviction. It was about the victims, those who had been violated," she said. "I wish to God someone had stood up for me. I wish to God someone had spoken for me."
The Polygamy Blog: http://bit.ly/Ar3JVq