K. Dee Ignatin, Executive Director
Austin, Texas - October 30, 2009 – Board members and the executive director at Americans Against Abuses of polygamy wish to express both shock and disappointment that the Bigamy charges against Yisrael Hawkins have been dropped and a plea agreement reached in the case.
Citing the estimated costs of a trial and issues with the statute of limitations, Callahan County District Attorney Shane Deel cut a deal with the 74 year old leader of the House of Yahweh cult, in which he must pay a $2,000 fine and serve 15 months of probation in each misdemeanor child-labor case.
Although we understand that the investigation resulting in the Bigamy charges predated the Texas legislature making Bigamy a felony crime, this news is still quite disturbing for the future of women's rights in the state of Texas.
Hawkins' sect is still currently, flagrantly, flaunting the Texas Bigamy/Polygamy laws and in the process endangering Texas women and children. There is no religious exemption provided to allow men to abuse women and endanger children in Texas.
Although the United Nations has clearly defined polygamy as a human rights abuse of women, worldwide, it continues to flourish here. We encourage the governor and the Texas attorney general to continue investigating the crime of polygamy being committed on Texas soil by this sect located in West Texas.
In almost every instance where the crime of polygamy is identified, religion is used to either force or coerce women into the practice. There is no constitutionally protected right in the United States to intimidate women into the practice of polygamy using either the threat of an eternal fiery damnation, or the promise of glorification or reward in the afterlife.
Reynolds v. United States has not been overturned and, indeed, the Supreme Court of the United States has refused to hear arguments against that ruling as recently as 2007.
We encourage elected leaders and law enforcement to consider the felony crime of polygamy a serious offense, and to take immediate action to prevent spread of this human rights abuse in Texas.
Abuse of any kind is not a recognized religious freedom in America.
Americans Against Abuses of Polygamy is a non-profit, conservative feminist, human rights organization, based in Texas. The AAAP is dedicated to educating the public on the human rights abuses inherent within the cultural practice of polygamy, worldwide and within the United States, and the potential dangers of decriminalization of the felony practice. www.TripleAP.org