Monday, February 4, 2013

Ruby Jessop Is Free

Ruby's story:

This is Ruby Jessop and 5 of her 6 children, along with her big sister Flora. This is what freedom in America looks like. Ernie, third from the right, was celebrating his sixth birthday the night this was taken. We had a special spaghetti dinner to mark the occasion.

Most of that day was spent unloading and sorting a lot of toys and clothes, which were delivered by trailer by a Girl Scout Troop and a women's bible study group.

Ruby is starting out with nothing but her children, a van, which is registered to her husband and he has handed the title over to the FLDS Church, and the clothes on their backs.

It's hard for me, on a personal level, to describe what this moment means for me. I know not everyone knows Flora and Ruby's story, so maybe I should recap a few details.

My friend Flora escaped the polygamist town of Colorado City, Arizona in Mohave County, when she was 16 years old. On the day she left, her baby sister Ruby was born. Flora managed for years to stay in some sort of contact with her family, even though things were very tense between them all. Until Warren Steed Jeffs took control of the FLDS, Flora managed to keep that contact, tenuous as it was at times. As Ruby grew up, she looked up to her big sister Flora who had broken all the rules and run away.

When the day came when Ruby was "placed" into a marriage with her second cousin by Warren Jeffs, she was only 14-years-old. Ruby didn't like her cousin and didn't want to be married. She dreamed of getting an education and someday becoming a nurse. That's, at 14, what Ruby wanted for herself.

Instead, she was forced to marry her cousin, and Warren Jeffs himself performed the ceremony. Ruby was brutally accosted on her wedding night. She bled for days afterward. She wanted out. Ruby managed to get out of Colorado City and to contact Flora to tell her what was happening to her. She told her she didn't want to be married and didn't want to go back. Flora was hours away from Ruby and told her she would get to her as fast as she could. But she was too late.

Ruby, unfortunately, was taken into custody by Utah CPS. The case workers immediately contacted Ruby's parents in Colorado City, who arrived with back up. Instead of interviewing Ruby separately from her captors, she was interviewed in their presence, where she agreed with them that there was 'nothing wrong at home' and agreed to go back with them.

By the time Flora got down there, Ruby was gone. When she demanded that authorities get Ruby back for a proper interview, the Town Marshal's Office told Mohave County officials that Ruby was "on a vacation with her family," and that is why she could not be found. They did though assure those Mohave County officials that Ruby had been accounted for, was perfectly safe, and nothing at all was wrong. Flora instead of being rightfully portrayed as a concerned family member who was attempting to keep a promise to her baby sister that she would do everything in her power to save her from the FLDS and keep her safe, was according to the authorities in Colorado City, just a crazy bitter woman with an axe to grind, nothing more. The whole community screamed that Flora's inquiries were nothing but , "religious persecution," because they were a polygamous community.

I'd like now to draw attention to two similar cases to Ruby's, the most striking of which is the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping. Elizabeth came from a normal middle class Mormon home, where a sociopathic polygamist named Brian David Mitchell kidnapped her in 2002 one night from her bedroom. In testimony later given to the court, a police officer who confronted Mitchell, his wife and Smart in a public library in Salt Lake City [after a tip that someone recognized the girl as Smart], testified that he did not have the right to demand Elizabeth Smart remove the veil covering her face, because it would have been a violation of her Civil Rights, since her captor, Mitchell said she and his wife were wearing the garb for "religious reasons." Again, so that a predator could rape a child, civil and religious rights were demanded. Thanks to the authorities blind subservience to the idea that polygamy and the subjugation of women is somehow a "religious right," a child was left in the clutches of a rapist. Such is the idea of liberty in Utah and parts of Arizona where Mormonism is the norm. "Richey said Mitchell also told him their religion, which he didn’t specify, didn’t allow the women to speak in public."

The other pertinent case is that of Jaycee Dugard. Kidnapped at the age of 11 by a man who already had a wife, he and his accomplice managed to manipulate and control Jaycee for 18 years. In an interview after her rescue, Jaycee described what she did in order to survive the ordeal: "Jaycee describes in great detail what she did in order to survive. She adapted. She learned not to talk back to her kidnapper, not to suggest anything or ask for anything. She learned to be extremely compliant.  Her ability to be compliant for 18 years was the key to her survival. And yet she now understands that her compliance may not have always been the best approach to all situations."

In both of these other cases there was one, count them, exactly one accomplice to the imprisonment of these children for the purposes of sex with older men, the men's wives.

STOP! Now, imagine a child born into a sex cult that owns an entire town, and the hundreds or thousands of willing accomplices to keeping that child, even if she wanted to run away, inside the imprisonment and sex enslavement to "a religion."

The difference in these girl's situations was aptly pointed out by Jon Krakauer in his book published in 2004, "Under the Banner of Heaven." Excerpt from "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer    Flora Jessop is extremely relieved that Elizabeth Smart was discovered alive and thinks the outpouring of support Elizabeth has received is wonderful. But in Jessop’s view it underscores the disturbing absence of support for another young victim of polygamy—her sister, Ruby Jessop--whose

Ruby Jessop
predicament she first brought to the attention of government officials more than a year before Elizabeth was abducted

Ruby was fourteen years old when she was observed innocently kissing a boy she fancied in Colorado City. For this unforgivable sin she was immediately forced to marry an older member of her extended family, whom she despised, in a fundamentalist ceremony presided over by Warren Jeffs. Like Elizabeth, Ruby was raped immediately after the wedding ceremony---so brutally that she spent her “wedding night” hemorrhaging copious amounts of blood. Unlike Elizabeth, however, Ruby attempted to flee her coerced marriage, running to the home of a sympathetic brother where she thought she would find refuge. Lured away from her brother’s house by false promises, in May 2001 Ruby was allegedly abducted by members of the FLDS Church and brought to the home of her stepfather, Fred Jessop, second councilor to the prophet—the same house where Flora Jessop had been confined seventeen years earlier.

Antipolygamy activist Lorna Craig, a colleague of Flora Jessop’s, is baffled and outraged by Utah’s indifferent treatment of Ruby—especially when compared to the colossal effort the state mustered to rescue Elizabeth Smart and prosecute her abductors. Craig notes that both Elizabeth and Ruby were fourteen when they were kidnapped, raped, and “kept captive by polygamous fanatics.” The main difference in the girls’ respective ordeals, she says, is that “Elizabeth was brainwashed for nine months,” while Ruby had been brainwashed by polygamous fanatics “since birth.” Despite the similarity of their plights, Elizabeth’s abusers were jailed and charged with sexual assault, aggravated burglary, and aggravated kidnapping, while Ruby, says Craig, “Was returned to her abusers, no real investigation was done, no charges were brought against anyone involved.”

The dissimilar outcomes are attributable, in Craig’s view, to the fact that Ruby Jessop was born into a polygamous community that has been allowed to break state and federal laws with impunity for many decades. Craig points out that because the mayor, the police, and the judge in Colorado City—Hildale are themselves polygamists who are absolutely obedient to the prophet, there is “nowhere for victims of abuse to turn. . . . I would say that teaching a girl that her salvation depends on her having sexual relations with a married man is inherently destructive.” Such relationships, Craig argues bitterly, should be considered “a crime, not a religion.”

So, here is my question. Ruby is finally FREE! She says she wanted out, ALWAYS wanted out! If Jaycee Dugard was entitled to a $20 million settlement from the state of California for its inept handling of the case of her sexual predator/captor, exactly how much do you think the state of Utah owes to Ruby Jessop and her children?


  1. $40 million. Go for it Ruby!!! I doubled it because Utah wrecklessly and willingly violated their own constitution to enable this girl to have what amounts to state-sponsored torture. This is a brilliant article and I have goosebumps!

  2. I agree! Considering what she went thru, she deserves so much more. The dept and people involved that ignored Ruby and did not take Flora seriously should issue a public apology at the very least. Flora and Ruby are extremely strong women as they have both shown and it took a TREMENDOUS amount of courage from both of them to get out. My respect knows no limit for these two and I AM SO HAPPY she is out!!!!

  3. Ruby and her children are worth every cent of any payoff that they may receive. 50 or 60 million should go some way toward easing them into normal society.

  4. She deserves not only money and LOTS of it but she also should get an apology. I am sure she will likely receive much more money than apology's. Go for it ALL Ruby! Sue for a min of $100 million... then MAYBE, just maybe not only will you and your family be cared for but UT MIGHT start to enforce the law...

  5. I am reading Flora's book. She is an amazing woman! Ruby should sue the pants off of Utah. Sometimes, that is the only way policies will change. I am saddened that the state let them down when they needed them the most. I wish the best for Flora, Ruby and the kids!