Warren Jeffs, Polygamy, and Keeping Our Eyes on the Ball
By Guest Blogger Stacey A. Lundgren
All the hoopla about polygamist leader Warren Jeffs deserves publicity, and he should be stopped from committing more crimes. As a Mormon myself (member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), I am no longer active in the church; however, my respect for it remains strong. I was concerned, however, when in July, 2010, the Utah Supreme Court reversed Jeffs’ 2007 conviction of rape as an accomplice, saying jury instructions were in error. Arizona also failed to convict him. Fortunately, he was convicted on 8-4-2011 in Texas, and is awaiting sentencing. I personally congratulate the judge in Texas for properly delivering instructions to the jury.
Warren Jeffs’ case is not about polygamy. It is about child molestation. The marriage of under-aged girls is an abomination of the true intent of polygamy. He and other FLDS men are breaking the law and should be prosecuted and punished in every state where this horrific masquerade of spirituality is practiced.
There is a huge difference between the LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints) Church and the FLDS Church, of which Jeffs is the leader and proclaimed (now incarcerated) prophet. The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ practice of polygamy ended well over one hundred years ago, in accordance with the law when Utah received statehood. (It should be noted that although polygamy is not practiced now by LDS Church members, they do believe that after death, if they attain the highest kingdom, the Celestial Kingdom, polygamy will be practiced there.)
Children all over the world are sexually molested. I’ve had personal experience of this sad fact too many times, devastating things that confused me. Why us? Why is this happening in my family, to my children? These experiences have forced us into courtrooms, psychiatric hospitals, therapists’ offices and long-term recovery programs. Suffice it to say, what I’ve learned about child abuse has come to me firsthand. It took me years to get past the anger and bitterness that clouded my thoughts and dominated my feelings. Thank goodness, only clarity remains.
Protecting children is pro-active, not reactive. For those of us wanting to do something positive and pro-active about child molestation, do this: Call your county Prosecutor and ask what percentage of accused perpetrators are tried and convicted. Ask how many cases are plea-bargained and how many actually go to trial. And ask this: How many of the offenders who are found guilty of a crime go to jail or prison? This information should be easy to get. It’s all public record, and if a county is proud of its record, they should be proud to share it. If you get the runaround, find out why.
Back in 2004, I did some checking after being outraged by the outcome of a two-year case involving my own family. I asked a social worker, a fifteen-year employee of the county’s juvenile crimes division, “What percentage of cases involving child molestation actually go to trial in this county, and what percentage of those found guilty go to prison for their crimes?” She looked at me and quickly replied “About five percent”. FIVE PERCENT! I felt a combination of nausea and anger.
I felt driven to call county prosecutors offices in other states to ask the same question. The Lucas County, OH, Prosecutor personally answered me and offered to send a packet of information. In King County, WA, an employee quickly gave me the answer, as did the prosecutor in charge of child molestation cases in Livingston County, MI. What were their percentages? They ranged from 45-55%. Quite a difference!
In the interest of fairness, I called the Prosecutor’s office in my then home county, wanting to see if I would again hear “five percent”. I was referred to Public Relations, and upon asking the percentage question, the man asked me, “Why do you want to know that?” I answered, “I’m doing some research.” He stated, “We don’t give out that information.” I said, politely, “But it’s public record, and other county prosecutors had no problem with it.” And he answered, not politely, “Well, if it’s public record, then you can research the answer yourself,” and he hung up. That person, who still works in the prosecutor’s office, is one of Salt Lake County’s (UT) Prosecutors, and apparently at that time, Public Relations representative, Robert Stott.
Let us all “keep our eyes on the ball”. That “ball” is neither Warren Jeffs nor other polygamists; it is child molesters. Find out your county’s record regarding prosecutions of these criminals. Put pressure on those who can do something immediate and powerful against molesters—your prosecutors and judges.
Stacey A. Lundgren is a professional speaker, author, columnist, and Lead Presenter for the character education (anti-bullying/pro-kindness) organization Bucketfillers For Life. Her book True Bucketfilling Stories: Legacies of Love continues to earn 100% 5-star reviews on Amazon from psychologists, counselors, teachers and parents. Visit her website at www.staceylundgren.com and follow her on Twitter @StaceyALundgren