Torture, Sacred Trust & Human Rights

Torture, Sacred Trust & Human Rights
Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs continues to use his ecclesiastical power to impose tests of faith that inflict severe mental anguish on his followers. Granted, it’s no revelation that the convicted felon disregards the laws of the land – that’s why he’s in prison. But somehow, from prison, he was practically able to install his own totalitarian government and reign like a tyrannical dictator over a group of vulnerable, unprotected people. And he did it with the silent approval of officials.

Signs

Warren Jeffs Photo -Reuters

There was a lot of religious nonsense during Jeff’s court proceedings, including the documents where, um, Jesus Christ weighed in on Jeffs’ behalf, informing the judge she no longer had power over Jeffs.  Jeffs delivered these ‘revelations’ from Jesus, but he was just the messenger, you know. It was God that placed Jeffs above the law. “I, the Lord Jesus Christ, am above all, and my law is religious and of me, a heavenly power over all creation,”  stated a court document Jeffs filed on Oct. 13, 2011.  Prison officials, no doubt, had a hunch that the convicted polygamist prophet and pedophile was more than some crazy nut to laugh about.

The man is still dangerous.

On Aug 9, 2011, after Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison, CNN quoted Prosecutor Eric Nichols.

"“Rarely if ever in the criminal justice system in Texas have we ever encouraged a person such as Warren Jeffs, whose criminal conduct spans decades, multiple jurisdictions and hundreds of victims,” Nichols said. CNN article here."

— CNN

Nonetheless, utilizing his phone privileges, the prisoner still managed to essentially overthrow the U.S. government and become the sole lawmaker of a small American town. According to the Salt Lake Tribune (12/15/11), Jeffs ordered members to relinquish all personal possessions to designated FLDS leaders who would then determine whether they would be worthy of getting them back.  All forms of entertainment have been outlawed by Mr. Jeffs. Large items like ATV’s and trampolines – contraband. Young females were commanded to quit their jobs and forbidden from possessing cell phones or other communications devices.

Children’s toys were ruled as evil and idolatrous. All toys had to be eliminated, including the children’s brand new Christmas presents.

Photo of discarded toys after the prophet’s proclamation. (Facebook)

And if that wasn’t enough emotional cruelty, family pets had to be eliminated.

Let that sink in.

This is not the Grinch that stole Christmas presents one year.

This is the Grinch that is forcing his innocent, misled followers to share the misery of his life sentence.

Warren Jeffs orchestrated what could be described as search and seizures without warrants to ensure private citizens were complying with his laws or face severe consequences. He demanded confessions and lengthy interviews which were handled by his minions, and detailed questionnaires had to be filled out prying into the most private parts of people’s personal lives. And then he invalidated all marriages, dissolving every family unit. This enabled him to psychologically torment his true believers, making physical relations between (former) husband and wife a mortal sin.


There’s an exception though. Intimate relations can take place if it is pre-approved by him or other church leaders for the sole purpose of procreation.

Just one more small detail. Allegedly, the physical act has to be witnessed by a group of hand-picked priesthood holders.

Many would not be surprised if it turns out to be true considering the heart-breaking audiotapes that came out in court regarding how he behaved with the child brides in the temple. He wasn’t sentenced to life in prison for nothing.

Photo from Failure Magazine

If this “pre-approved and witnessed” thing is true, talk about a recipe for disaster! Imagine the male-female ratio of one young wife, one old husband she did not choose, and a clan of Warren Jeffs’ religious colleagues who themselves have been deprived, watching in a secure, private location. Not good for the girl. Not good at all.  Horrifying would fit here.

Yet if these modest, sheltered, believing women desire to have children, they will have no choice but to subject themselves to the humiliation of disrobing in front of a quorum of elders that they know from church, which might even include relatives. For young women whose clothing covers their bodies from neck to ankle and have been taught since birth that it is better to lose your life than your virtue, publicly disrobing is horrifying enough. The young woman must then perform her live pornography before a gang of male onlookers.  Priesthood holders, mind you. Ecclesiastical leaders. These are clergy that have a special trust relationship or fiduciary duty to look after her, not watch her have sex with one of their buddies – most likely an old man she was assigned to in an arranged ‘marriage’ over which she had little or no choice.  Excuse me, but how is this not sexual abuse?

Sam Mullet, busted by the FBI for beard cutting (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, MSNBC)

Where is the FBI?

Some of them are in Ohio doing their job, thank goodness. The Daily Mail reported “The FBI has busted Samuel Mullet, the leader of a breakaway Amish sect” behind the “beard and hair cutting attacks against other Amish in rural eastern Ohio.”

"Mullet and six men who were already facing charges in the beard cuttings are now accused of committing federal hate crimes against the Amish who disagreed with them or tried to split with the clan. Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry. The attacks struck at the core of the Amish identity. "

— Daily Mail UK

Sam Mullet was charged with a hate crime and faces up to 10 years of prison for beard cutting. Yet Warren Jeffs, as a punishment to the male FLDS whose religiosity wasn’t up to snuff in his eyes, ordered the virtual kidnapping of the men’s wives and children in the middle of the night, leaving countless people missing, hundreds of families in a state of emotional devastation, and authorities in Utah failing to intervene because, well, it’s their religion.

Sam Brower – Photo from Culture Map Houston

Detective Sam Brower, author of Prophet’s Prey, is beside himself. His dogged seven year investigation was invaluable in getting Jeffs convicted. After visiting with the traumatized FLDS on New Year’s Day, in a private facebook group Brower wrote, “I’ve been in the Crick witnessing the end of the world. In reality, there is a human crisis going on there of epic proportions.”  He said, “I spent part of my day today speaking with a man whose wife and children were removed from his home at 3 a.m. last night, and he had no idea where they were being taken. To say it was heartbreaking was an understatement.”

"I simply cannot believe the pain and human suffering that is being wreaked upon thousands of people by a mad, completely evil, narcissistic sociopath, pedophile, rapist who is still wreaking havoc from a prison cell. All the while, irresponsible people are going on the news joking about throwing the criminals revelations in the round file, and stating that they are not worried about it because “they” have never been violent in the past. Besides not being true, it is completely imprudent and unwise for someone in a position of public trust to take such an irresponsible posture, when history has taught us to be wary of radical extremist religious freaks. "

— ~Detective Sam Brower

"This is without a doubt one of the scariest times I’ve seen out there, and I do not see it ending well. And, it’s not just Warren and his cronies that are going to have blood on their hands. It is the courts and judges, the governors and legislators, prosecutors, the even the President. I’ve seen all these people, not only in UT and AZ, minimize, joke about, cover-up, look the other way, and even defend the largest and most lawless group of fanatics in the country.  ~Detective Sam Brower"

Attorney Natalie Malonis who is connected with residents of Short Creek described the conditions at “the creek” as chaotic. “Families are being split apart with no warning. Parts of families are being spirited away to parts unknown. Acts of vandalism have run rampant, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage,” she wrote. “The upper level priesthood men have been required to take an oath of celibacy, and the intense interrogations, mandated confessions, and extortion continue.”

Why aren’t these people protected?

Ironically, Jeffs is protected from harm while he is in custody, but granted the freedom to harm others and take their liberties away. In fact, he utilizes the tax-payer-funded prison facility to direct the illegal activities of his enforcers on the outside which result in severe mental anguish to his believers, loss of property and denial of freedoms, not to mention a violation of their human rights. His mandates have directly contributed to the destruction of the very families over whom he has a high duty of care as their ecclesiastical fiduciary, and over whom he has undue influence. It’s a triple outrage.

Yet authorities are in a hard spot.

He’s got rights, ya know.

Officials would have found a faster way around that hard spot if Jeffs’ enforcers mercilessly entered their homes in Palestine, Texas in the middle of the night to ‘remove’ their own wives and children as a punishment for not relinquishing the titles to their vehicles or forking over the $5,000 donation to God’s work fast enough. There would probably be bloodshed, SWAT teams would be called in, law enforcement would explode into immediate action to protect these people, and it would create international outrage. But this is complicated.

Maybe Texas and Utah authorities could have intervened and prevented this, but who knows? On Dec. 28, Lyndsay Whitehurst of the Salt Lake Tribune reported about Jeff’s followers, “Everyone has to undergo a rigorous interview session, and those who don’t earn the approval of Colorado City-Hildale bishop Lyle Jeffs (Warren’s brother) by the end of the year are out.”  Out. Translation: if believers did not follow orders to ‘donate’ $5,000 to the church and sign over all possessions to the bishop, the men might risk never seeing their wives and children again.

Definition of Extortion

The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

Extortion is a crime. And religious freedom can not be used as a defense – remember what the prosecutor said during Jeffs’ criminal trial in Texas?

"Prosecutor Eric Nichols warned jurors not to be swayed by Jeffs’ frequent invocations of religious freedom as a defense.  The case, he said, has nothing to do with an attack on religion. Instead, it is about Jeffs and his actions."

It’s not Jeffs’ beliefs that are making grown men in Short Creek weep in agony. It’s his actions. Are authorities intervening to help the men find their missing daughters, missing children, missing wives?  Maybe, maybe not. Because it’s a religious matter, witnesses won’t talk, and it’s complicated.

Just as a person’s religious beliefs can not be used to justify the commission of a crime, a citizen’s religious beliefs should not be used to justify a lack of protection on the part of the law enforcement in the United States of America.

The believers are doubly victimized and penalized.

Just because they believe it, doesn’t mean they deserve it.

How ironic is this? What if the FLDS victims are not protected and assisted by the Utah attorney general, the FBI and other government agencies because they are over 18, and they believe.

There’s a word to describe when a government agency refuses to protect a group of people from harm because of their religious beliefs.  It’s called

discrimination.

It’s a violation of human rights.  Even if they ‘consent.’

If a parishioner believes that his priest has the right to cause him significant harm in the name of God, it is still criminal for the priest to do so.  Canadian Chief Justice Bauman who recently ruled that polygamy was inherently harmful to its believers and should remain illegal in Canada, wrote in his ruling that the government has a responsibility to protect people – even from themselves.

Definition of “Sanctioned”

"Sanction is a broad term with different meanings in different contexts. Sanction can be used to describe tacit or explicit approval. Used in this sense, the term usually is used in assigning liability to a party who was not actively involved in wrongdoing but who did nothing to prevent it."

— Legal Dictionary

What is Torture?

Prison officials have allowed (aka ‘sanctioned’) Jeffs to mandate forced confessions and direct the execution of punishments that cause severe suffering to his flock. Could that amount to government-sponsored psychological torture? Before you roll your eyes, read the basic definition of torture contained in the UN Convention Against Torture:

"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining ..a confession, punishing him for an act …or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by … or with the consent or acquiescence of a …person acting in an official capacity."

UN Convention Against Torture

The Torture Reporting Handbook states, “There may be many different goals related to identifying victims of torture: holding the perpetrator accountable, etc.  It goes on to explain, “The identity of the victim is important because:

  • Specific groups, such as children, women, the elderly, or religious persons, may be more vulnerable to the effects of ill-treatment, making it easier to consider that the degree of suffering is severe enough to amount to torture.
  • It helps to identify patterns of abuse being directed at a particular group of victims.
  • Additional international mechanisms which are specific to particular groups can be used – e.g. UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.”

Jeffs’ followers are particularly vulnerable to being harmed by Jeffs because he is their spiritual leader; he is in a ‘special trust’ relationship with his followers. He confirmed this himself. “There is sacred trust given to religious leadership not to be touched by government agencies,” Jeffs said in court. Furthermore, he has provided the court with a plethora of evidence about his powerful status as an oracle of God.

Photo – Youtube Video Screenshot

In several outbursts during his trial he condemned the judge, jury, and prosecutors, claiming that they would experience the wrath of God for their actions. At one point he read a revelation from God to the court in a terroristic attempt to stop the trial from proceeding. “I will send a scourge upon the counties of prosecutorial zeal to make humbled by sickness and death,” he read. Judge Walther reprimanded Jeffs, telling Jeffs he could not threaten the jury.

“If you call for their destruction,” she said, “or in any way say that they will be injured or damaged because of their service, you will be removed from the courtroom.”

On August 4, 2011 MSNBC reported, “Jeffs tried three times unsuccessfully to have State District Judge Barbara Walther removed and filed a brief based on what he said was a revelation from the Lord saying she will suffer a crippling sickness that will soon take her life.”

Terroristic Threats

"A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:

  • cause a reaction of any type to his threat[s] by an official …
  • place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
  • influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state."

    — http://definitions.uslegal.com/t/terroristic-threat/

If threatening the officials and counties with sickness and death did not qualify for additional charges, at the very least it should have resulted in the intensified monitoring of his communications. They gave him the benefit of the doubt, allowed him phone privileges, and he used them to do more damage.

Warren Jeffs’ revelations and threats may seem like hilarious water cooler fodder to his Texas custodians.

But they are more  terrifying than a bomb threat to his believers.

“There is great fear among the community, but for the most part they are going along with these actions because they are in shock and have no opportunity to stop and think and plan to react any differently than with obedience,” Malonis said.

When will the believers merit protection?

When threats are made to his followers over whom he has undue influence and special trust, they are traumatized. It’s not a laughing matter whatsoever.

The Torture Reporting Handbook understands this extreme vulnerability: “religious persons may be more vulnerable to the effects of ill-treatment, making it easier to consider that the degree of suffering is severe enough to amount to torture.”

Sam Brower put it like this. “I simply cannot believe the pain and human suffering that is being wreaked upon thousands of people by a mad, completely evil, narcissistic, sociopath pedophile, rapist who is still wreaking havoc from a prison cell.”

The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not allow for speech that incites or produces imminent lawless action, even if it is delivered in the form of a hand-written message from Jesus Christ.  ”If speech intends to produce illegal actions, and if, as a result of this speech, the illegal actions are imminent and likely, then there is a reason to limit freedom of speech.”  (Brandenberg vs. Ohio)

Free speech?  Or a violation of human rights?

True or false: For prison officials to knowingly allow psychological torture and the violation of human rights -

is to sanction it.

You tell me.

To whom it may concern, please review the

 

UPDATE:

For the moment, Warren Jeffs’ phone privileges have been suspended!

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About Christine Marie

I’m a geeky, bumbling, puppet-loving former kindergarten teacher with an MBA who thrives on child-like creativity, positivity, productivity & fun. I’m married to an extraordinary, eccentric genius from Istanbul who creates software, music, videos & photos. We live playfully in a fascinating world full of entrepreneurs, geeks, hackers, artists, producers, models & people trying to stir up trouble, break the status quo, live life to the fullest or make a difference in the world.

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  1. January 5, 2012 at 12:34 am

    I am always amazed when I see educational literature on the harms of the FLDS collected in such a professional way. Congratulations. I’m emailing it to myself and using it on my blog.

  2. Annie
    January 17, 2012 at 3:54 am

    All of this is horrifying. Awful, awful stuff. I wish I knew why we allow this to continue with all of the knowledge available. This looks like a pyramid scheme for sex and money in the guise of a religion.

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