Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 7 of the Canadian Case

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


  1. "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."

    What an assinine comment. I have a half sister and half brother from my mother and a half sister from my father -- they are my brother and sisters and that's how we refer to each other. My son and daughter are half siblings -- they also consider themselves "brother and sister". My daughter's son and daughter likewise. This Campbell person is a moron and has no business pretending to be a scholar or scientist at all.

  2. Wow, Rebeckah, I had exactly the very same thought! I've never been secluded in a polygamist compound and I cannot, for the life of me, ever remember anyone introducing me to their "half brother or half sister", although I know there are tons and tons of them out here.

    Infuriating isn't it?

  3. And even more interestingly, my step-brother who is the son of my stepfather from a previous marriage is ALSO introduced to others as my "brother".

    (What's odd is that my somewhat OCD mind always insisted on introducing my stepfather -- a man I loved dearly -- as my STEPfather, but my brothers and sisters were all simply my brothers and sister.)

  4. I don't see that as so odd, though. I think that's because the job of a step parent has to be one of the toughest roles to play, and when it is done with love, there is so very much to respect about that. So I can see the moniker as very deeply respectful, both to the step parent, and to your birth parent if you are trying to honor their feelings...if that makes any sense?

  5. Yes, it does make sense. It was always important to me to respect the roles my birth parents had simply by virtue of creating me, but I very much respected my stepfather as well. I think he knew that too. :)