Friday, December 24, 2010
I understand there is some debate on Creeping Sharia as to whether Dr. Jasser should be trusted. And Dr. Jasser has himself recently criticized Mr. Shoebat but I'm trying not to get in the middle of their tiff.
I think Dr. Jasser deserves our ear until we have reason to believe he or his organization don't deserve it. His main complaint with Mr. Shoebat is that he left Islam. I can understand that, because people are sensitive to other people who have rejected the faith that they follow. Catholics are uncomfortable with former Catholics and Jews are uncomfortable with Jews who have become Christians, and Christians are uncomfortable with Christians who have become New Agers or atheists.
That is a normal human responsive reflex.
The real question is will Dr. Jasser support democracy and freedom above Sharia or its implementation, which is incompatible with our Constitution? He says he will, and he did serve our nation.
I'm just extending the benefit of the doubt as a fellow human being...just as I am to Mr.Shoebat and anyone else who says they cherish their freedom.
The folks over at Creeping can get pretty hateful sometimes and I just don't participate in it at all. But they are brilliant for reliable source information, and do have some insightful commentary.
As for Dr. Jasser and Mr. Shoebat, I am impressed. They are committed to both their faith and to the US Constitution. That works for me. I don't have a problem with any neighbor of any religion or background who share those same values with me.
My problems with folks really only come when they show a nasty tendency to rely on and devote their allegiance to some other corrupt system of "law", other than the one the rest of us are expected to live according to as citizens of America.
I think I'll continue to direct my energy in the direction of loving good and hating evil. The rest of it usually comes out in the wash.
See that woman's face up there? It is beautiful, and it is good. If you love the kind of freedom that says, "In my culture I can see you and you can see me, because we are both valuable and important human beings" you might want to support all people who say they agree.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Yesterday, December 9th, was Day 11 of the Reference. The lead expert witness for the AGBC (“our” side), Dr. Joseph Henrich testified. He is a brilliant man and gave a slide show presentation—that moved along very fast. I decided it was impossible for me to keep up with notes and see all that was being presented at the same time, so I put my pen down and enjoyed the presentation.
I have posted two articles about Dr. Henrich’s presentation: Vancouver Sun, Daphne Bramham; and, Globe and Mail, James Keller, on the blog. I have also posted Dr. Henrich’s affidavits in the court documents side bar section.
Those who cross-examined Dr. Henrich couldn’t put much of a dent in his research.
This has been a very exciting three weeks for “our” side. Sisters Kathleen and Rena Mackert were featured on the front page of Vancouver’s The Province on December 9, yesterday, after their video testimony was presented in court December 8th. Both were ecstatic that finally they were able to have their voices heard in a courtroom, but what a tragedy they had to come to Canada to do it. They are ex-FLDS women from the United States.
Also, I know that the Vancouver Sun has remodelled its polygamy blog for general reference: www.vancouversun.com/polygamy
Bye, from Vancouver,
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada
Thursday, December 9, 2010
DAY 10, Reference, December 8, 2010
Get a cup of coffee, tea or even a stiff drink, because this is long and heart-wrenching. Four videos were shown today: Rena Mackert, Teressa Wall, Sara Hammon, and Kathleen Mackert. Kathleen and Rena Mackert are full-blood sisters, members of the Steering Committee for Stop Polygamy in Canada, and were with me today in court.
RENA MACKERT is the thirteenth child in birth order of her father and mother, Clyde & Myra Mackert—Myra was Clyde’s third wife. In the 1953 Raid on Short Creek (now Hildale, Ut/Colorado City, AZ) Rena’s father was arrested and charged with unlawful co-habitation. The FLDS were then referred to as “The Group” or “The Saints” All her father had to do to get out of jail was to sign a paper saying he would no longer cohabitate with more than one woman. He signed having no intention of following the order.
Rena had severe ear infections when she was three as she came down with measles, mumps and chickenpox all at the same time. She was not given medical attention and lost her hearing in her right ear because her mother did not have enough faith that she would be healed when she was given a priesthood blessing.
Rena’s father had converted to the “faith.” He was a school teacher. He had four wives who were all educated—four generations of school teachers. There were 31 children altogether in the family. When the children attended school, they had to be quiet about their family. If they said anything and their father ended up arrested, it would be their fault. Rena said she was an adult before she realized that it was his responsibility if he got in trouble with the law, not the children’s.
Rena was rebellious from a very early age. We were God’s chosen but we couldn’t tell anyone. We grew up with so many disparities. They raise liars. It takes a long, long time to reprogram yourself.
Rena’s relationship with her father was very, very challenging. She was three years old the first time she was molested by him. They were on a camping trip and he forced her to perform oral sex on him. When she cried and threw up, he spanked her and told her she was a bad girl and if she didn’t stop crying, he would spank her again. So, she believed she was a bad, evil girl who was going to go to hell from a very early age. The molestation lasted until she was 17, just before she got married.
She was forced to marry her step-brother who was her dad’s fourth wife’s son by a previous marriage. The prophet LeRoy Johnson (sp?) said she was to marry him. She hated him and he hated her. He did let her finish high school. She was the only one of her father’s daughters to finish high school.
When Rena was a teen, she had acted up and got negative attention from her father by being either back-handed or he took a belt to her.
She was married for five years. She had three children in those five years. Her husband wanted out of the marriage. They were divorced. Her husband left the faith. She was moved into a tiny, cinder-block house near her father so they could keep an eye on her. Rena was told by LeRoy Johnson that she had to marry his brother Orville who was in his late fifties and Rena was 22.
Rena told Johnson about the sexual abuse she had suffered by her father. Johnson called her a liar and told her she had the spirit of apostasy. Rena told him to go to hell and to fuck off. She had a job cocktailing. Her husband had started taking her to bars when she was nineteen. She went to her father’s to pick up her children after a night of cocktailing and was told by her father that she didn’t have any children because she had apostatized. She was told by her mother that she should have never been born, she was such a disgrace to the family.
It was eleven months and after an attorney who she met in one of the clubs she sang in told her that she had a legal right to custody of her children before she went back in the middle of the night with a sheaf of legal papers to claim her children. They had been told that their mother didn’t want them anymore.
Her children had also been chided by other children in the FLDS that they were going to go to hell because their mother had apostatized.
All seven of her mother’s children have left the FLDS.
When asked what it was like for the women, Rena said that there was always a lot of tension between the wives. Myra and Donna were sisters married to the same man. When sisters marry the same man, their relationship as sisters is murdered. The life of a woman was to pop our as many babies as you can, working very hard so you’ll be called a good woman. Sister wives used severe punishment on children of other wives. So the children had to become creatures who could morph to the different personalities and moods of the other mothers.
When I got out, I had no clue how to function in the real world.
Rena started drinking when she was 17. She developed a drug addition in 1996. She has overcome both. It was a way for her to numb out. She is still fighting negatives.
The FLDS preach from the pulpit that you can beat a child nigh unto death for simple disobedience.
What the YFZ mothers don’t understand is that when you force your daughter to marry so young, you are throwing them away to be raped. The throw 12 & 13 year-old boys out and never look back. The media circus around the YFZ raid was very orchestrated.
In 1953, my father became the Poster Man for the FLDS. He was a pedophile with four educated wives. The picture on the front of “Life” magazine is of him and his big family. Myra was pregnant with Rena in the picture. There had been a raid in 1944 did not get the media attention that the 1953 raid did.
Teressa Wall was born August 23, 1980 in Hildale, Utah. She was the second child of the second wife of her father. The first wife had eight children, her mother had 14. The first wife was very abusive to Teressa’s mother.
We worked the hardest and had to live in the basement of the house.
Teressa cannot remember much of her childhood. The oldest boy took a lot of abuse. He was kicked out of the house when he was 17 or 18. The last Teressa saw of him, he was hitchhiking. He had been the one to work and bring in the food for their family. He bought shoes and fabric for sewing. The next oldest boy took on this role once his brother was gone.
Teressa was deemed “rebellious” and sent to Canada when she was twelve. She lived in Canada in her uncle’s house. She did not get along with her father and stuck up for her younger siblings. When she was 13, she was forced into a meeting with Rulon Jeffs who was then the prophet. Two of her sisters were already married to Rulon. She swore she would not speak in the meeting. She was on meds for pain. In the meeting she was pressured to marry Rulon Jeffs. She said she would rather die than marry him. He was over 80 years old.
She was banned from the property and sent to Sundre, Alberta to work in a Blackmore owned logging company. She worked in sub-zero temperatures putting logs into a fence poster. She was not given proper clothing to wear—no coat, no gloves. John Blackmore was one of the crew bosses.
She said she looked forward to the year 2000 because that would be the end of the world and she was so bad she was going to hell anyway. She believed she was nowhere near righteous enough to be saved.
She was not in Canada legally. Each week when she was working in the pulp mill, Winston Blackmore would tell her she could end all this by getting married. Finally, at 17, she was trapped into a corner to get married to Roy Blackmore who was only a few months older than her. She had children before she wanted to.
For education, she only completed grade 8 at the Alta Academy in Salt Lake City. She had so many aspirations but never achieved them. At Alta Academy the girls took a child development class. They were told that it was their only mission in life to have as many children as they could. They had no choice in the matter. They must obey the priesthood. They only reason for not having children was if there was something wrong with them and they couldn’t. Girls were married at 15-16, some younger.
Winston wanted to marry them off young before they could develop a mind of their own. She explained the weekly Barbeque parties at Winston’s where each week a boy/man would walk over and take the hand of the girl he was to marry. She was terrified that someone was going to walk over to her.
They were taught that boys were like snakes and to stay away from them, but then when they were married they had to surrender everything to them.
Jane Blackmore saw all these young, terrified girls having babies but she was afraid to let anyone older know.
When Teressa was 17, Winston told her to get married or get out. She had no family in the States to take her in because they had given up on her. She was terrified of the outside world. She was trapped into marrying Roy.
Everything seemed like a blur to her. She got up, got dressed, was crying, walked with Roy to Winston’s where Warren Jeffs performed the marriage. Then she went with Roy back to Sundre to be a crew cook. Roy was still working at the logging operation. Before getting married, they got $80 every two weeks. After they got married, they got $1,000 a month.
Winston was the one who lined couples up. Winston was the one who kept drilling her on getting married. He is a very vain, self-centered person, so it didn’t help his ego when I kept saying no.
I was such an embarrassment because I always asked questions. I wasn’t a bad kid. I didn’t drink, do drugs, but I also didn’t bow to the priesthood pressure.
It was a feather in Winston’s hat to have me married off. It made him look good to Warren.
I was given choices on who I would marry and that just doesn’t happen! I would have been given great prestige if I had married Winston because I would have been the bishop’s wife. But I didn’t want prestige.
Now Winston’s wives live in poverty. Two of them have been married in a lesbian marriage so they can claim child tax credits.
In answer to the question about how men get other wives, Teressa said it was different in every instance. Her father had converted into FLDS. He abused her mother miserably. Her mother went to church to complain about the abuse and was told that they needed her father’s money. He was very educated and had a lot of money. He even did contracts for NASA.
Her mother had been born into the FLDS. Her father gave everything he had to the church and his family struggled to eat. When her father was no longer an asset to the church, they took her mother away and sent her to her father’s ranch with the children. They were loaded up in the middle of the night and taken away. Teressa still does not know where the ranch is for sure.
Teressa was in Canada when her mother was taken away to Fred Jessop to be married to him. She went with five of her children. Twin boys were left behind in Salt Lake City. They ran away. Her younger sister, Elissa, was treated pretty badly as were all of the children. Elissa was supposed to be married when she was 13. Teressa phoned her and told her not to do it. Elissa was finally forced to marry her double first cousin, Allan Steed.
Elissa phoned Teressa crying that her husband was forcing himself on her. Teressa arranged for Elissa to come to Canada for a visit. While here she had a terrible, painful miscarriage. She was in Canada without her husband and was forced to return to him. Allen was physically, sexually and mentally abusive to Elissa. So much so that her mother intervened and went to Warren to complain. Warren ordered her mother to keep away from Elissa and not interfere in her marriage.
Truman Barlow was typically the next in line to be prophet but Warren took over in 2002. Warren soon broadcast that Winston was no longer a bishop. Winston couldn’t handle being defrocked and split from the group with his followers. Richard Blackmore was asked to be bishop, but said he didn’t want it and followed Winston. Then Jimmie Oler was appointed.
Teressa’s husband, Roy Blackmore stayed on Warren’s side. One day she let some of Winston’s children into her home. Roy was furious and told her that her children could be taken away for doing that. Everyone on Warren’s side had to have a picture of him hanging in their home. They had to get up at 5 in the morning for classes that were taped by Warren and again the classes had to be held in the evening. The dress code changed for women, sleeves to wrist not mid-arm like before, thick, hot polyester up to neck and down to ankles. Their hair had to be done a certain way.
I never put the front of my hair in a wave like I was supposed to. I just wouldn’t do it!
There is a lot of movement between the FLDS groups in Salt Lake City, Colorado City and Bountiful. Canada was “reform school” for the kids. Winston’s father Ray was bishop of Bountiful at one time. No bishop in Salt Lake City—Rulon Jeffs was the prophet there until Warren took over.
Growing up, we were terrified of our neighbours. We had nothing to do with them. We were terrified that our father would get arrested.
I had no life skills on how to deal with the real world. Teressa did not tell her children to fear others but they were told by others in the community.
Teressa Wall continued after the lunch break.
She completed only 8th grade in Alta Academy. When she was sent to Bountiful, she was not allowed to enrol in school there. She was not even allowed to take the home schooling offered in Creston.
After they married, Roy was afraid of anything she did that could be deemed questionable. She enrolled in some classes in town but it caused too much fighting and turmoil. She thinks Roy had wanted to graduate, too, but Winston said the boys would get more education working.
Everyone worked for a company that was owned by the FLDS—J.R. Blackmore & Sons, and Oler Bros. Logging that was run by Ken Oler. They were told that apostates were worse than gentiles (a gentile is anyone who is not FLDS). Once a person apostatized, they could no longer have any contact with anyone in the group.
Roy came home one day to say that they were no longer married and the children were not theirs and Roy believed it. Roy thought they could read his mind and know what he was doing even when they were not there. He wanted Teressa to write letters of repentance. Teressa played the game for about a year but each letter had to be followed by another letter.
Teressa had had enough. She packed up her kids in the KIA and left. She went down to Payette. She had planned from the year 2000 to leave. She was helped by her brother who wanted her to influence as many people as she could.
In answer to what were her fears now about the FLDS. The first fear she listed was that girls in FLDS are being married off too young, some getting married as young as 11 or twelve. One of her own fears had been for her own daughter(s). Teressa had questioned what the children were taught and she had been called a virus that was spreading. She said she and Roy had lived in desperate, wretched places with no heat. In one trailer, she and the children slept by the open oven door in the dead of winter in Alberta.
There had been plenty of discussion about Roy taking another wife; and, Teressa had turned the tables and asked him how he would feel if she took another husband. Roy would get all frustrated and remind her of the "Law of Sarah.”
Teressa had lost contact with her mother a year before she left because she helped Elissa put the prophet in jail. Her mother told her that she was dead to her. She received a note from her mother saying she was praying for her death.
Of the fourteen children in her immediate family, only five are still in the FLDS. The first year after she left was very hard. She got a job as a waitress and had to learn to talk to people.
Her father was Jonathan Marion Hammon. She has 74 bros and sis. Her oldest sister is old enough to be her grandmother. She had no relationship with her father. They lived on a ten-acre property with other older siblings in separate homes with their families on the property. Her father didn’t know her name or that she was his child.
The children always ran away when they saw their father coming. One of the mothers noticed this and told them to line up to give him a hug when they saw him and tell him their name. Her father came home and they lined up to give him a hug, but some of them were his grandchildren and he told them to all go home. Sara was toward the end of the line and went up to give him a hug. He told her he had said for her to go home. He didn’t know she was his daughter and she was standing about twenty feet away from their front door.
Sara talked a little about the history of the FLDS, that it was a term that had come along later. They believed that the mainstream Mormons were the ones who went astray and that they lived the real teachings of Mormonism.
She talked about all the chores they had to do. It took hours to do the dishes. One would wash, one would rinse, one would dry and one would put away. They had dishwashers but they couldn’t keep up to over 30 people eating at every meal.
Turning yourself over applied to girls who were marriageable age. They had to turn themselves over to the priesthood to be married.
There used to be a priesthood council until the 1986 split. That’s when Centennial Park was created by the people who left the FLDS—an argument over how the council should be run and who would be the next prophet, Johnson or Jeffs. Sara’s family stayed with the Jeffs people.
When asked if she knew the term “one mighty and strong”, Sara said she thought it referred to God or something scary.
After the split, all the children still went to the same school until Centennial Park built its own school.
Sara said that the men would compare one wife with another and the children would compare moms. Her mother had a number of nervous breakdowns. Moms treated their own birth children differently and took out their frustrations on other wives’ children.
At school, a picture of LeRoy the prophet was hung on the wall. School books were edited. Sara went to eighth grade. They were not allowed to date. Boys were to be kept at arm’s length. It was her father who started the more rigid dress codes. When it came to marriage, placement was expected. There was no choice at all.
Sara wanted to get away from the abuse—physical, sexual, emotional, mental—saw her mother suffer many nervous breakdowns due to her lifestyle. Sara didn’t want to be married to some creepy old man. At fourteen, she wanted to get out.
Sara wanted more control over her life: she had so few choices, had to decide if she was going to stay in and be miserable like her mother or get out. But she was terrified of going out into the world, but she saw so many women with 8, 10, or so children who were so broken down. She said she heard someone say that sexual abuse is necessary to break women down, to break their soul. Women had to be obedient to the men and to the prophet.
Sara left when she was 16. It was really scary. She didn’t belong here and she didn’t belong there. Just because she made the choice to leave, her relationship with her family was severed.
Sara talked about child brides and lost boys. Girls cannot be friends with boys because some old man might want them, boys can’t be friends with girls because they may not end up with a wife. There are victims everywhere. Some boys are damned just because of bad math.
In FLDS there is more of a tendency for incest. Step-siblings abusing siblings. Step-brothers are more abusive than full brothers. Every woman out there knows another woman who has been sexually abused. Many, many women have nervous breakdowns.
Sara had 11 mothers! She has trouble developing close relationships with people. In FLDS you feel like a number instead of a person.
When she was growing up, the boys had full range of the yard, the girls had half. There was a post that marked the line the girls could not cross. Sara and her sister crossed over into one of the granaries. Her brother sexually assaulted her sister. He locked them in the granary. It was meal time before anyone noticed they were missing.
Kathleen is Rena’s younger sister. Their family had been in polygamy since it first began under Joseph Smith. Each generation has become more abusive than the last. There was a continuous environment of abuse, either by back hand or the belt.
I can’t put a timeline on the first time I was abused “that way”. Kathleen remembers being sexually abused by her father when she was five years old—he made her perform oral sex on him. When she was six, she tried to kill herself by taking a bottle of aspirins because she was willing to go to hell for killing herself to get away from the hurt and the pain. Her mother found her and the empty aspirin bottle and put her finger down her throat to make her throw up. When her mother asked her why she ate the aspirins she lied and said she liked the taste of them.
She decided to grow up and not try to kill herself anymore. When she was 17 she warned her father not to touch her again.
Kathleen observed her older sisters in their marriages and how miserable they were. She knew there was no plan for her but to be a mother. At 14 girls started their hope chests. If a woman couldn’t have children, that meant she was cursed. You grow up with the concept that even if you are a first wife eventually you are going to have to accept another. You are valued only for one thing, not as a person. Her oldest sisters—twins—were married at 16 to an old man and couldn’t have any children.
I had no control over my destiny.
The priesthood had ranks of righteousness and you had value if you married a man of considerable righteousness. Men often marry a mother and her daughter.
My sister Rena married someone she hated and he hated her. It broke her and it terrified me.
The concept of heaven is that you will be eternally pregnant with no love, that you’ll pop out spirit babies one after another to go into the mortal bodies of the people who will populate the world that your husband will be god of.
I used to have a nightmare of being strapped into a breeding stall and always pregnant with no love.
I couldn’t talk to my mother because she would reinstate the religious teachings. I didn’t feel close to my mother at all.
When I was a toddler, my mother went back to work. Mother Donna babysat me. I never saw my mother at all. Mother told me the story of how one evening she came home from work and I heard her and climbed out of my crib to go to her. She was rocking me when my father came in and told my mother to spank me and put me back to bed to teach me obedience. She had to spank me thirteen times before I would stay in my crib.
Kathleen wanted to erase herself. She would hide under the table and watch the others. She grew up feeling illegitimate because they had to use her father’s middle name as their last name—Chapman. She grew up with the fear of the great destruction. It was terrible growing up with the fear of being destroyed by God, being destroyed by what her father was doing to her.
There were no Christmases, no birthdays. Someone brought them a Christmas tree when Kathleen was a small child. Her father let it stay outside and die. Kathleen watched it die and felt like she was dying as well.
Kathleen was very frightened when it came time to think about marriage. Rena had been beautiful but was labelled rebellious because she didn’t want to marry an old man. Girls were awakened at 2-3 in the morning to be told who they would marry. It was a control tactic to bring them out of a deep sleep and tell them. A week past her 18th birthday (she was considered an old maid) she was awakened at about 2:30 in the morning and taken to a room where her four mothers were sitting and there was a chair in the middle of the room for her. She was told she was going to marry her step-brother, Daniel Swaney, older brother of Rena’s husband.
It was very hard to psychologically go from thinking of him as your older brother one day and your husband the next. Kathleen said she went through a check list and compared herself to her sisters. She felt lucky because she knew he was kind of worldly. But their wedding picture shows two people who are terrified. The damage of being forced to marry one another came out later in their marriage.
Kathleen had four miscarriages in a row and felt like she was being punished for what her father did to her. She went into a deep depression and gained a lot of weight. She found out she had a thyroid problem and when it was stabilized she got pregnant. She wanted her children to feel valued and read about child development. She had four children.
Her husband, Daniel, wanted only two children. He would come back from priesthood meetings very upset and said he couldn’t accept what was being taught. They left the FLDS together and joined the mainstream Mormons. At the time they left the FLDS, Kathleen’s daughter was nine and she was becoming very frightened for her.
Kathleen grew up feeling and believing she didn’t have possession of her own children. Her concept of God was pretty corrupted. When she went into mainstream Mormonism, she felt like she belonged. She could have no contact with the family she left behind.
Kathleen watched Rena go from one abusive marriage into another one.
Kathleen has trouble with intimate relationships. She started therapy against her husband’s wishes when she was still having her babies. She would develop overwhelming feelings of suicide. The only thing that stopped her from committing suicide was the thought of what would happen to her children. She would hide behind being heavy, then she would lose weight but if men started whistling at her she would eat again.
She studied what reactive-detachment disorder is from the Mayo clinic. She said that you build yourself up to a certain level and then discover something else you have to work on. She got her children out. They didn’t grow up the way she did. She rejoices in their choices. And, she is at the stage now where she enjoys having choice.
Kathleen and Rena have founded the Valerie Jeffs Mackert (VJM) Gateway to Freedom Foundation. Valerie Jeffs was married to one of their brothers. She left the FLDS but was lost between the real world and the FLDS world. She turned to drugs. She had always suffered from seizures and died of a grand mal seizure where her heart stopped because of the drugs she was taking. She was 40 when she died. Her life was lost on polygamy. She was a very loving, beautiful person.
Kathleen and Rena lobby to get laws changed. All their brothers and sisters are out of the FLDS.
Kathleen said, “I can be fulfilled on so many levels as a woman—but not as a polygamy woman.”
Kathleen and Rena keep striving to reconnect with those “we walked away from when we walked into freedom.”
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada
Thanks again, Nancy Mereska from Stop Polygamy in Canada for these very informative and detailed reports on the Canadian Supreme Court proceedings.
DAY 9—Reference s. 293—December 7, 2010
It’s raining in Vancouver today—nothing unusual for winter I’m told. The forecast is for rain for the next four days. The only reason I’m sharing the weather report with you is that the cloudy skies seemed to set the mood for court today. There were very few attorneys present today and even fewer in the gallery. Two weeks ago when I first arrived, I had a cold but as I did my best to cough quietly into my sleeve, so did other people in the gallery. Last week, a few attorneys were stifling coughs and sneezes. Today, the cold seems to have risen in ranks as his Lordship Chief Justice Bauman had a box of tissues in plain sight and occasionally reached for their assistance as he apparently, too, has caught the Courtroom 55 cold.
Chief Justice Bauman’s first matter of business was to rule that the Vancouver Sun and other media did not err in publishing the excerpts from the videos. And, he is still reserving his ruling on the matter of whether or not he’ll allow reporters to interview people involved in the reference in the causeway outside the courtroom on the last days of the hearing.
Too many attorneys were absent today for there to be any mention of when those last two weeks will be.
Mr. Gerald D. Chipeur Q.C. from the Christian Legal Fellowship introduced their special witness, Dr. Shoshana Amyra Grossbard, Professor of Economics, Editor, “Review of Economics of the Household” after she had taken the witness oath. Dr. Grossbard is employed by San Diego State University and has been a professor of economics for 29 years.
Dr. Grossbard has specialized in the economics of marriage including polygamy in Nigeria. She admitted she had a neutral opinion on polygamy until she became acquainted with FLDS polygamy. Polygamy is a widespread phenomenon. She mentioned African, Asian, American and Jewish polygamy. When asked where one would find Jewish polygamy, she answered “Kurdistan.”
Dr. Grossbard said that Christian polygamy is found in the FLDS in Canada and the U.S.; and, she only found out about those when she studied Bountiful. She explained that polygamy is mainly a cultural event sometimes happening with religion. She explained what she considered central themes of polygamy, themes that make polygamy harmful to women:
· In cultural polygamy (African, Asian) the bride price becomes very “big” but the money is exchanged between the husband and the father of the bride—no money goes to the woman.
· In all polygamy men find ways to limit the freedom of women.
· Female circumcision makes it impossible for the women to experience any sexual pleasure.
· Easy divorce—In Islam, a man only has to repeat “I divorce you” three times and the woman is left alone because her children belong to the husband
· Women cannot choose husbands.
· Early marriage increases the supply of women to polygamous men.
· Purdah—or the isolation of women making it impossible for them to get out of their compounds.
· Ideology of romantic love is not present in these cultures
· FLDS discourage romantic love.
· Polygamous societies limit opportunities for women to be in the labour force.
Dr. Grossbard said she has had no first-hand experience with Jewish polygamy. Traditional Jews de-emphasize romantic love.
Dr. Grossbard talked about France. How in 1980 France allowed African immigration of polygamy but in 1993 stopped allowing it. There are approx. 200,000 polygamous households. France recognized the great harm this was doing to society at large. Services are needed for these people. Social workers are not adequately prepared to deal with polygamy.
Some reports were brought up that I’m totally unfamiliar with so I did not follow very well the thread of the conversation but Dr. Grossbard did say that there is plenty of hard core evidence regarding how the mental health of women in polygamy is affected.
Mr. Tim Dickenson, attorney for the Amicus cross examined Dr. Grossbard. TD & DG for my notes:
TD: Did you conduct field research on FLDS? Did you conduct field research in Canada?
DG: Said she doesn’t do field research. Her research is from secondary data, i.e. data collected by others.
TD: When polygamy is permitted, there will be a greater demand for wives?
DG: Yes. There will be more demand in the marriage market.
TD: What creates greater demand for women is men wanting more than one wife?
TD: You have not set out any research that shows there would be more polygamy if it were permitted.
TD: The more commercial a society is, there is less polygamy?
DG: More agrarian societies demand more wives and children. I would not agree with you if you say polygamy would not spread if you were to legalize polygamy.
TD: Referred to a paper titled “The Mystery of Monogamy”—where it is concluded that in poor countries where wealth is based on sections of land not capital, then men seek out wives (polygamy) to produce more children.
DG: That is a purely theoretical paper.
More reference to a report I have not read so was not able to keep up with the questioning. But, Dr. Grossbard concluded that “Men in polygamous societies will manipulate the environment so as to control the women.”
For some reason Mr. Dickenson brought up Valentine’s Day as a celebration of recommitment to monogamy. Dr. Grossbard agreed with him, but there were smiles and muffled chuckles through the courtroom.
The second expert witness for the day was Dr. Zheng Wu of the University of Victoria. He is a demographer who also uses secondary statistics for his research analysis. He was called as a witness for the Amicus side. Oh, dear, YAWN! I was warned by one reporter that if I planned to stay the whole time for the hearing (which I now know is totally impossible) there would be some pretty boring days in court. Well, I felt sorry for Dr. Wu. He obviously is very remarkable in his field of research on marriage patterns, but had nothing on polygamy, used the term common-law marriage and common-law relationship interchangeably not knowing that in B.C. there is a difference—a legal difference. Dr. Wu explained that because his reports are widely distributed, he does not have a legal definition in mind when he talks about conjugal unions in his reports.
SCHEDULING: The expert witness who was supposed to appear tomorrow cannot so the court hopes to get through four of the video testimonies. So the videos will start in the morning; instead of the afternoon. Bring lots of tissue because I’m sure any sniffling I hear in the courtroom will not be just from anyone’s cold.
Until Wednesday, then,
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada
Sunday, December 5, 2010
By SETAREH SABETY in Nice, France | 14 July 2009 No Revolution
This is just an amazing piece to read. If you have a well developed conscience I'd recommend preparing yourself.
Mind you, I don't agree with all her conclusions, especially that freedom is not worth a single drop of human blood. Our soldiers are walking, talking, living proof that freedom is not free, to any of us here in America, Ms. Sabety. It costs us, and many of our families a great deal;sometimes the ultimate price.
If I could say anything to her at all, I would explain to her that I have stood on the side of the road here in the Texas Hill Country, more than once, with my hand over my heart and my lips quivering as the body of one of our boys comes home to rest.
If you cannot recommend that your own people do what is necessary for their freedom, how can you expect us to believe you really care about democracy? The most cursory and basic review of any successful democracy will show you that Jefferson plainly said "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
I would suggest Ms. Sabety that unless you find something that is worth dying for, you cannot ever hope to have the freedoms that are worth living for.
Friday, December 3, 2010
So while the pro-polygamy side presents a witness that is obviously not an expert, the anti-polygamy side presents an experienced psychologist who testifies that he has treated multiple victims of polygamy for post traumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorders.
The court day started with Ms. Ruth Lane on the telephone speaking to the court from Hurricane, Utah, where she resides. Ms. Lane is the woman who objected to excerpts of her video evidence being put out on the internet. She was the tenth wife of Winston Blackmore, and has seven children by him. Although Ms. Lane admits to being on television in the past with her story (she appeared on Dr. Phil), she said, “I don’t share my story with just anybody. I chose to tell my story that it would be open to the public in the court. . .I have no problem with the media are reporting on my story as seen in court. . .”
Mr. Burnett, lawyer for the media, asked Ms. Lane is she had been asked all questions regarding public knowledge of her testimony.
Ms. Lane said, “I am objecting to being posted online. I would not have shared my story if I had known the media would be editing it to their liking.”
His Lordship Justice Bauman reserved his decision on the matter.
Dr. Larry Beall, a clinical psychologist in Salt Lake City who also has a Masters Degree in Education and who is an expert witness for the AGBC appeared in court because his affidavit was challenged by Dr. Matt Davies who is a witness for the FLDS. He was asked by AGBC Attorney Karen Horsman to outline his experience briefly for the court and to explain how he became involved with helping women and children from the FLDS.
Dr. Beall explained to the court that he specializes in the diagnosis of mental problems. He opened the The Trauma Awareness and Treatment Centre in Salt Lake City in 1994. His referrals are mostly from the State and Federal Government and Medicaid. He does interface work within the community, e.g. seminars on trauma in society. Over the years he has worked with approx. 5600 patients with at least 400 of those children.
The State has requirements for treatment of domestic violence. Dr. Beall found that domestic violence victims did not have sufficient life skills to survive. He wrote a guideline manual for helping train those victims for the Division of Workforce Services.
Dr. Beall first became involved with ex-FLDS women and their children by doing some pro bono work for Tapestry Against Polygamy (TAP)—an advocacy group that helps women who are escaping from the FLDS cult. He also receives patients through Diversity—an advocacy group for FLDS lost boys. Before any patient is referred to him, they are assessed by a State-run triage system.
There are a team of workers in his treatment centre that meet for weekly staff meetings, discuss challenges and problems, and make decisions on treatment modes. Dr. Beall has treated eight women of the many who were referred to the centre, all from Mormon-based polygamy groups, some FLDS, some Kingston, some Harmston. He has helped with over 100 assessments. All had core problems showing that the doctrinal teaching of being saved within the confines of their respective cults was there, they had little education, and they had lived under a tight focus of control. Eleven males from Hildale, Utah/Colorado City, AZ were referred to the clinic. Dr. Beall worked directly with six of the young men. The women were treated through 12-16 sessions; the young men, 6-10 sessions.
Dr. Beall was an expert witness in the YFZ Ranch trials in Texas. He had no prior exposure to the FLDS until his first pro bono work with TAP.
(Note: For those of you who have been following this campaign from its start in 2003, you will remember that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff set up a Safety Net Committee in 2004. He invited all who were involved with Mormon polygamy in any capacity to come to the first meeting. Representatives from TAP went to the meeting hopeful that at last Utah was going to take responsibility for the polygamy issue. Direct sources revealed to me that TAP was not allowed to have a voice at the meeting because they were against the practice of polygamy. Proponents of polygamy, e.g. Anne Wilde and Mary Bachelor were given a place at the table, TAP was not! When the raid in Texas happened, Utah spent thousands sending these women and others to Texas to teach social workers there about polygamy.—Enough, I can feel the bile boiling in the pit of my stomach.)
Dr. Beall was queried about various treatment models in psychology and main diagnostic tool manuals. He answered affirmative to all. Dr. Beall explained the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) thread that is common to all he treated. He said the women usually left because they could no longer tolerate the harm being done to them and/or their children; and, the boys/young men left because they didn’t want to be assigned to another “father” or were kicked out because they were deemed rebellious.
All suffered from Adjustment Disorder which includes many symptoms found in PTSD. In PTSD, Dr. Beall explained, memories disrupt daily experience. Many suffer cognitive dissonance which is not a diagnosis but is one level of their trauma. What Dr. Beall states he has witnessed far exceeds the symptoms for cognitive dissonance. The females internalized symptoms such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame. They exhibited a robotic type presentation where they shut down their feelings. They exhibited no anger. The males exhibited externalized symptoms, angry that they had no survival skills to deal with a world they had been taught to mistrust; angry because they could not compete with the males in the cult; angry because they were taught that mental health problems were a weakness.
To answer Ms. Horsman’s question about Adolescent Development, Dr. Beall explained that adolescence is a time of identity formation. The adolescent must be able to exercise choice. Instead, adolescents in the FLDS and similar cults are taught that if they “feel that something happening by a priesthood leader is wrong, they are told that they are wrong to think that way—so natural feelings of what is wrong are not developed.” Sexual Grooming is the gradual relational conditioning that leads to sexual contact—the illusion is created that the sexual contact is consensual and the teen girl has responsibility in it.
Dr. Beall, “Since the priesthood perpetrator is a representative of God, if the teen girls does not comply, then she is displeasing God.”. . . “It is apparent that the FLDS has a structured sexual grooming pattern.”
Of the treatment models used, many overlap, Dr. Beall explained. The first issue is always safety. They must be taught life skills. A sense of connectivity to their new life must be established; and, most difficult is the cognitive restructuring—helping them think in positives, not negatives.
Dr. Beall is aware of and uses APA guidelines at the National Level.
Dr. Davies claimed in his opposition affidavit that Dr. Beall exhibited “bias” when he referred to FLDS polygamy survivors. Dr. Beall said the victims have been given thinking patterns instilled in them since birth. These people are taught complete compliance, that it is contingent on their very salvation.
Robert Wickett, attorney for the FLDS and James Oler, rose to cross-examine Dr. Beall. He asked Dr. Beall to define polygamy which Dr. Beall defined as one man with more than one wife. RW & DB for notes:
RW wanted to know if DB had retained permission to talk to the court about his cases.
DB said he did not and would not talk about individual cases because he had promised his clients that he would never divulge their personal experiences, but there are major themes that emerged through his observations.
RW wanted to know if DB could produce clinical notes.
DB said he could not and would not under HIPA (privacy law in US—I believe). And, his clients would feel very threatened—life or death situation!
RW brought up the possibility of DB malingering—that is fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders. . .
DB The problem with the FLDS is not one particular trauma, but there is a climate, a climate where the victim does not feel safe; e.g. witnessing violence against another can cause as much trauma to the witness as it does to the victim. Each woman suffered physical and sexual abuse. They felt unwanted sex was abuse, but that is not recognized by the courts.
RW brought up DB using hypnosis on patients to recover memories. He read a passage from Brent Jeffs’ book Lost Boy where it is said DB used hypnosis on him in treatment.
DB said that he does not use hypnosis because he believes it is unethical. He said that the passage in the book is wrong. That did not happen. DB did not treat Brent Jeffs. (I have not read Brent’s book so I do not know who the co-author is.)
RW wanted to know if DB thinks adults can consent to marriage.
DB once again explained that the critical thinking of teen FLDS members is denied. There is conditioning and indoctrination that shapes the way they think. Factors have to be weighed depending on their vulnerabilities.
RW wanted to know what DB’s ideas on the criminal prohibition bein lifted are.
DB said that is out of the scope of his expertise.
RW would not let the question rest.
DB said that there cannot be over of the conditioning of these people and the limits on their being able to make choices.
The attorney for the BCCLA rose to cross-examine.
BCCLA grilled DB on the DSM-4 guidelines and asked if PTSD is the principle diagnosis.
DB explained that PTSD is the principle condition caused by the principle diagnosis of anxiety.
BCCLA wanted to know if PTSD is the central theme in your case references.
DB agreed but said that the guidelines under DSM-4 reference the main identifiers as trauma.
BCCLA wanted to know if the women he had treated expressed fear for their lives and the lives of their children.
DB said they had. “We have treated at our clinic a number of adults who as children were abused.”
The attorney for the BC Teachers Federation rose to question Dr. Beall.
BCTF wanted to know if DB had worked with children from the FLDS.
DB said he had worked with children from the ALTA Academy—Warren Jeffs’ school.
BCTF wanted to know if DB saw any sign that they were taught critical thinking patterns.
DB said they had no training in critical thinking patterns.
Chief Justice Bauman thanked Dr. Beall and excused him from the witness stand.
THEN SCHEDULING MATTERS WERE BROUGHT UP! Court will not sit again until Tuesday, December Dec. 7. Then a Mr./Ms. Grossbard will be cross-examined. I do not have this affidavit. And, Dr. Zheng Wu, a witness for the FLDS will be cross-examined. Dr. Wu is Chair, Sociology Dep’t. University of Victoria. The rest of the week is scheduled for Dr. Joseph Henrich.
December 10 is my last day to be at this part of the reference.
My plans were to return the last two weeks of January for the final statements and summation. BUT it was decided in court today that it will take until the end of January for the evidentiary phase! There was some jostling of dates for the summation phase but some key attorneys were not present to confirm so this will be decided next week. One key attorney rose to say, “Your Lordship, I still want to be married at the end of this process.” This in response to the fact that he will not be available during spring break. There was a chorus of laughter throughout the courtroom. Obviously, there are stressors on everyone involved in this process.
Until Tuesday, then,
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada
Thursday, December 2, 2010
On a personal note, I cannot understand at all how the court allowed this woman to be certified as an expert. I have now seen several articles by journalists who are quoting her conclusions, assertions and opinions, without mentioning at all how the crown is shredding her credibility every time she opens her mouth on the stand.
You don't know where Colorado City is, Ms. Campbell? Really? So you don't know about the more than 400 signed and sworn affidavits signed by boys who say they were driven out of that polygamist controlled city and dumped like dogs on the side of the roads? Do you know that community has run over the same number of children "accidentally" in the past 20 years as the entire state of Connecticut, with a population of over 350,000 people, or that there are mounds of untended often unmarked infant graves in front of the town junk yard? Really Ms. Campbell? Really?
I, like Nancy, am genuinely looking forward to the upcoming testimony of an authentic expert in psychology and research, Dr. Larry Bealle.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Day 7 Reference s. 293
A message from Nancy Mereska of Stop Polygamy in Canada and her latest notes on the Canadian Supreme Court case.
It turns out I erred on the timing of the presentation to the court via telephone by the video-recorded witness who is objecting to her video being published by mainstream media. We will hear from her tomorrow morning, not today as I had reported yesterday.
Today, Professor Angela Campbell was still on the witness stand. The Canadian Council for the Rights of the Child and David Asper Centre attorney, Cheryl Milne cross examined Professor Campbell. CM and Prof C, respectively for my notes:
CM: Wanted to know if Prof C had lived in the community of Bountiful during her research.
Prof C: No.
CM: Wanted to know if Prof C has any particular expertise in child development or in child education or any expertise to be able to detect child abuse.
Prof C: No.
CM: Wanted to know if Prof C was in Bountiful to present a voice for the children.
Prof C: No. Prof C said that she saw well over 200 children but did not do a head count.
CM: Took issue with paragraph 50 of Prof C’s affidavit were she said, “Children within a family born to different sister wives also often have rich relationships” and she gave for an example the fact that they call each other brothers and sisters, whereas in mainstream society, they would be half-sisters or half-brothers. CM said to Prof C and to the court that that constituted a very general statement.
CM: Also, pointed out paragraph 53 where Prof C said that she “spoke to few men.” This paragraph contradicts her statement on the stand yesterday where she said she spoke to no men.
Prof C: Clarified that she interviewed only women, not any men.
Craig Jones, Lead Attorney for the AGBC rose to cross-examine Prof C:
Craig: Wanted to know if Prof C knew where Hildale was, where Colorado City was, and when the YFZ Ranch in Texas was established.
Prof C: Said she thought Hildale is in Utah, said she did not know where Colorado City was nor did she know when the YFZ Ranch was established.
Craig: Wanted to know if Prof C knew what caused the split in Bountiful.
Prof C: Said she did not know.
Craig: Wanted to know what Prof C knew about the convictions of the men that came out of the raid on the YFZ Ranch.
Prof C: Said she did not know that any charges came out of the raid.
Craig: Wanted to know if Prof C knew about child brides, lost boys, the status of women, and the negative impacts the FLDS has on children and women.
Prof C: Yes.
Craig: Wanted to know if Prof C had become concerned about literature being too negative on the issue of criminalization of polygamy.
Prof C: Yes.
Craig: When did you conclude that decriminalization should happen?
Prof C: Said that she decided in late 2008 that the prohibition around polygamy has not been thoroughly investigated. But she cannot say that she concluded that polygamy should be decriminalized.
Craig: Wanted to know what other research she had investigated from Canada.
Prof C: Said she was not aware of any.
Craig: Did you ask any of the 22 women you interviewed at what age they were married.
Prof C: No.
Craig went through four major harms identified with FLDS polygamy: child brides, lost boys, impact on status of women, and education.
Craig established with Prof C that in Bountiful a child born out of wedlock is non-existent. So, if we have the record of the age of the mother and the age of the father, wouldn’t that be a fair quantitative analysis of whether or not there were child brides?
Prof C: I don’t know.
Craig: If the records show that the place of birth of the mother is in the U.S. and she ended up married in Canada, wouldn’t that be indicative of child trafficking if the woman was a teenager when she married?
Prof C: Yes.
Craig: How many polygamous marriages are you aware of since 2002?
Prof C: Said she was not aware of any.
Craig: Craig went through the issue of lost boys and asked Prof C if she asked about lost boys.
Prof C: No.
Craig pointed out that Prof C had said on the stand that she had attended a community event and the proportion of males to females looked about even. He wanted to know if she was observing polygamous families.
Prof C: I don’t know. I didn’t do a head count.
Craig went into the harm of the impact on the status of women. He asked Prof C if she wouldn’t agree that the higher the reproductive economy (fertility rate) means the lower their (the women’s) equality. Meaning the more women married to the same man producing children, etc.
Prof C: Agreed.
Craig: Said that Prof C was aware that often birth control was not a decision of the husband, that women hid it from their husbands. Asked Prof C is she agreed that women should have absolute control over their reproductive rights?
Prof C: Yes.
Craig went into the harm of the lack of education in the community. It would be useful to know the dropout rate. He asked Prof C if she knew how many received their Dogwood Certificate (high school diploma in BC).
Prof C: No.
Craig: Would it be useful to His Lordship to know in assessing harm, how many Bountiful students received their Dogwood Certificate?
Prof C: Yes.
Craig developed a more accurate picture of the actual time Prof C spent in Bountiful interviewing women. The time, it turns out, is substantially less than what was established in testimony yesterday. (I took a rest from writing and did not calculate the time)
The same line of questioning was followed by the attorney for the AG of Canada. Then an attorney for West Coast LEAF cross examined. She cited a passage in an exhibit not open to the public due to confidentiality and wanted to know is Prof C had interviewed any young women aged 15-17. Prof C said she had not. Prof C said that the women in the group she interviewed have more choices than they did before the split. Prof C said that she interviewed one girl from the Jeffs side twice but would not give her age or any details about her.
Finally, the gruelling fact-finding mission of finding out there were, indeed, no facts was over and Prof C was excused from the witness stand. I do not know how Prof C held her demeanour so professionally during the examination by so many attorneys. Although she looked drawn at times, she answered the many questions as best she could and with honesty. That’s all any court can ask of any witness.
Tomorrow Dr. Larry Beall, expert witness for the AGBC, who is a clinical psychologist in Salt Lake City and who has provided clinical treatment to over 30 former residents of polygamous communities, will be on the witness stand. One of the great pleasures I have had in running the Stop Polygamy in Canada campaign is becoming aware of great people like Dr. Beall. I have been honoured with articles, essays, and research papers over the years that, at times, have left me in tears of joy that there are professional people out there who know and understand the workings of the polygamy cults; and, who have had experience in helping people who have made their way out.
I would like to share with you some points I see as specific highlights from the research paper, “Polygamy: The Impact of Modern-Day Polygamy on Women & Children,” by Larry Beall, Ph.D. (Quotes in point form)
· “. . .it takes an unusually strong and resourceful woman to successfully leave a polygamist group.”
· she “. . .reached the limits of her capacity to continue enduring intolerable conditions for her and her children.”
· “. . .the basic structure of polygamy is authoritarian and secretive.”
· “When the author uses the word ‘cult’. . .there are certain elements of cults he has observed through the lives of its survivors with whom he has worked. . .Three of those elements are (1) doctrinal teachings and practices, which because of their emotionally, physically or sexually abusive nature, would be judged by society outside the cult, as destructive, harmful, and /or criminal; (2) coercion or force by its leaders to insure compliance in the cult’s members, and (3) secrecy to prevent influence from the outside society to maintain isolation of its members.”
· Dr. Beall lists the “(p)rominent characteristics of polygamous cults”
1. “All control belongs to a central figure.”
2. “Revelation from God dictates the words and acts of the central figure.”
3. “Independent thinking and outside information are shunned.”
4. “Relationships with others outside the cult are prohibited.”
5. “Non-constructive attitudes toward education.” Note: Dr. Beall’s explanation of this trait is one-half page long!
6. “Adaptation to mainstream society is punishing.”
7. “Gestapo Mentality.”
8. “Violence is a necessary strength.”
9. “Emotional expressions are undesirable.” (I have to make a personal experience note here from my early days of my marriage in mainstream Mormonism. My little 2-year-old niece was killed by a car on the streets of Provo, Utah. We had to bring her little body to Canada for burial. At the funeral, someone was kind enough to bring me a chair as I stood with my husband in the family receiving line that led to her open coffin. I was the only one crying. I was beside myself with grief. I had baby twin boys. My husband chided me that if I had enough faith that she had gone directly to the celestial kingdom because she died before the age of 8—the age of accountability in the Mormon religion—I would not be crying. Good God!)
10. “Personal desires are unwanted.”
11. “Polygamous cults are a caste system.”
12. “Attitudes toward women as property/possessions.”
The only reason an expert witness is called to the stand in a hearing such as this is because his/her affidavit has been challenged by the “opposing” side. Dr. Beall is appearing because his affidavit has been challenged. He issued his responding affidavit to the challenge today. Tomorrow promises to be a nail-biter.
Thank you, all, for your kind attendance to my amateur court notes; and, your comments—good or critical—they are welcome, because it means I have struck a chord for good or ill and you are thinking—thinking about polygamy and its impact on not only its victims, but on society. Remember that laws in a free and democratic society are legislated for the common good. I’m confident that we will see s. 293 upheld.
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada