Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ten Years to Life

Finally yesterday we learned what the sentence for Warren Jeffs was going to be in Utah for "acting as an accomplice to rape." Jeffs was convicted by a jury in September.

I can't explain to you how happy this makes me. Ten years to life. Only, the truth is, it's not harsh enough. Jeffs is guilty of far more than "acting as an accomplice to rape" in his role as the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like his father Rulon before him, Jeffs not only reassigns women and their female children to men he feels are more spiritually deserving, (this is where the accomplice to rape charge comes from--he reassigned a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin and submit to sexual relations), but he has probably raped girls himself. It is not uncommon for the prophet to take on very young new wives. Sexual abuse is rampant and accepted in this fundamentalist community.

Why am I following this case? Like many people, I do have a fascination (like watching a train wreck) with this fundamentalist Mormon sect. I love the BIG LOVE. But as a sexual abuse survivor myself, I'm outraged that this behavior has been going on within the fundamentalist church for over a century without the law intervening. This is not TV. It's real life. Young girls partnered with older men to become wives, so that the men can reach the highest realm of heaven.

And they don't call it rape.

Income tax evasion. Defrauding the social welfare system. These are the kinds of claims that have been thrown at these white men as some sort of punishment. But they get off, and they go on forcing girls to marry older men in the church, and marry young girls themselves. Then these girls become mothers, and so on.

I wanted Warren Jeffs to face a harsher punishment, but I'm writing today to say I feel better knowing he's been sentenced in the state of Utah. Next up, we see what his charge will be in the state of Arizona, where he has also arranged under-age marriages.

I hate to tell you this, but this part is important: The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has the authority to parole Warren Jeff's whenever they want to. Can you believe that? Most likely a board created by the Mormons long ago to make sure that government would not have more power than the church in the state of Utah. Who do you want to bet sits on this board but high-ranking church members, perhaps even fundamentalists? Let's all visualize The Board of Pardons and Parole ignoring Warren Jeffs.

Until next time.


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