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Hiding in Plain Sight: Polygamy

Aired May 12, 2006 - 23:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Salt Lake City, home of the Mormon Church, but also in the shadow of a group of renegade believers. They're practicing polygamy, hiding in plain sight, accused of terrible crimes and being led by a fugitive from the FBI.

ANNOUNCER: Is he a prophet and a coldhearted criminal? Tonight, the real story of Polygamist Warren Jeffs. Who is he? And the bigger question, where is he?

What do the women say?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you know how many wives there are?


TUCHMAN: Is it between 10 and 15?


TUCHMAN: And the kids, the range, how many kids?

LINDA: More than 30. All my kids are sweethearts.

ANNOUNCER: Wives sharing a husband and family and loving it.

And the men cast out. How do they survive? What happens to their families?

Across the country and around the world, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Hiding in Plain Sight: Polygamy." From Salt Lake City, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And welcome to this special edition of 360. Our report tonight is not about the church that is headquartered behind me, the Church of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS. It's about a manhunt for the leader of an offshoot of it, one that split from the mother church more than 70 years ago. A sect that practices polygamy, led by a man who's now on the run, one of America's most wanted, accused of sex with minors and forcing underage girls into marriage with adult men. Tonight, an inside look starting with the fugitive himself. COOPER (voice-over): To his thousands of followers, Warren Jeffs is the chosen one, a prophet who speaks for God on earth; to others who have studied his sect, he is pure evil.

JOHN KRAKAUER, AUTHOR, "UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN": He has the kind of pathology that would put him on a par with Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein. He's raped and sodomized many, many children, girls, women, and he's created this culture that is damaging in its own right.

COOPER: Jeffs rules over the fundamentalist church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Known as the FLDS, the group shuns the outside world, living a kind of twilight zone existence in sealed-off communities in Utah, Texas, Arizona and British Columbia, building churches and waiting for judgment day.

GARY ENGLES, INVESTIGATOR: These chosen people believe that they'll be lifted up while God sweeps the earth clean of the wicked people, and then they'll be sent back down to rebuild the earth.

COOPER: Those who left the FLDS describe chilling accounts of Warren Jeffs. He's all powerful, believed to have dozens of wives himself and picks what women church elders should take.

In a rare audio recording made by a disgruntled member and obtained by a local radio station, Jeffs preached about first-time brides and obedience. Listen.

WARREN JEFFS, POLYGAMIST LEADER: Many young men, when they receive their first wife, they're just so untrained. And the woman, if she's not careful, will be overbearing and always ask permission for what she wants. And ladies, build up your husband by being submissive. That's how you will give your children the success. You will want your children to be obedient and submissive to righteous living.

COOPER: Jeffs also spews hate, warning his believers of a wicked world.

W. JEFFS: You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, or rude and filthy, uncomely, disagreeable, and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all of the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.

COOPER: Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs. Here's how he describes his uncle.

BRENT JEFFS, NEPHEW OF WARREN JEFFS: He puts on a front like he's a very nice man, a very giving man, very happy. But underneath all that, he's very dark and very evil. And he will do anything to hide himself and get away from all these charges. And so all I can say to everyone out there is just keep your eye out for him.

COOPER: Tonight, Jeffs is a fugitive on the run, but still very dangerous. That is what has so many concerned. Fearing his maniacal authority, coupled with a blind devotion, will lead to a violent showdown.

KRAKAUER: The problem is how to arrest him. And without provoking some calamity that would dwarf the calamity of Waco or even Jonestown. That's the challenge.

COOPER (on camera): A challenge, indeed. We'll have more of that coming up.

First, some perspective on Warren Jeffs' reach. We came here to Salt Lake City to give you perspective on just how his influence has spread.

Tonight, we'll take to you Colorado City, Arizona, to show you that polygamy didn't go away, not by a long shot. Also, Eldorado, Texas, one of the home bases for Warren Jeffs' breakaway church; and north to Bountiful, British Columbia. In all of these places, polygamy is literally hiding in plain sight.

First, Eldorado, where the locals have a mixed take on the followers now among them.

CNN's Rick Sanchez investigates.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): This is south central Texas, isolated, quiet, but there's a building boom of sorts here. Around this temple, erected by Warren Jeffs' polygamist followers.

And look at this. A rare glimpse into this new world of Mormon fundamentalists, one of the only photos of women and children working the fields of this 1,700-acre compound, under construction by Jeffs' chosen followers.

It's called YFZ, or Yearning For Zion. Because this is where the man they call the prophet has told them they need to be when the world, as we know it, comes to an end.

For other residents here, though it sounds alarmingly like what happened in another Texas town.

(On camera): Are you worried that this could be the next Waco?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have the manpower, they have the financial resources, and they're in an isolated area.

SANCHEZ: We're going to go ahead and try and drive into the compound, but it's surrounded by other ranches, so this is really the only road in. We're told that it is protected by guards in all- terrain vehicles. And some of the locals that we've talked to say they're armed. (Voice-over): Nobody really knows whether Warren Jeffs, who is now one of the FBI's top 10 fugitives, is in the compound. Sheriff David Doran is one of just a handful of outsiders who have ever been inside.

(On camera): How do you know Warren Jeffs isn't there right now?

DAVID DORNAN, SHERIFF: I can't say. I mean, I don't know. I don't know if he is or not.

SANCHEZ: So why not get a bunch of your guys in there and raid it right now and find out if he's there?

DORNAN: Well, you know, one would speculate that's what needs to be done. There's all -- you know, critics would say, why aren't we doing that? We have to get good, credible information that he's on the property. We have to have a sighting by law enforcement.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): But they haven't. Nor have they received reports of any criminal activity. And although Jeffs is accused of sex with a minor and suspected of arranging marriages between young girls and older men, there's been no evidence of that here. It's a possibility that repulses locals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's sick. They shouldn't be able to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nasty. It's just wrong. It shouldn't be like that.

SANCHEZ (on camera): We've essentially come as far as we can go because there's a locked gate here that prevents us from going any further. But if you look all the way down the road, you see a massive stone temple jutting over the horizon. That seems to be in the middle of nowhere.

(Voice-over): It now seems Jeffs' followers originally intended to conceal what they were doing when they placed a 10-foot sign that read "Whitetail Hunting Lodge."

School Teacher Ernesto Barrero (ph) was among the fist to realize something was amiss.

ERNESTEO BARRERO (ph), SCHOOL TEACHER: I told my wife, I noticed right away they misspelled whitetail.

SANCHEZ (on camera): Whitetail was misspelled?


SANCHEZ: They lied.

BARRERO: Oh, yes. They lied. They said that it was going to be a hunting resort.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): A work permit that explains what the property really is. YFZ, a religious church organization. We called the number on the permit to ask for Ernest Jessop (ph).

(On camera): Hi. Is this Mr. Jessop?

But we're told we had the wrong number.

(Voice-over): We also tried to catch up with one of Jeffs' followers driving a truck, loaded with fill. But he spotted us, ran, and then drove away.

From the air, Pilot J.D. Doyle showed us the massive temple, the three-story housing units where Jeffs' chosen followers now live, the water tower, the school and community center, the dairy and cheese factory, even a massive concrete mill.

J.D. DOYLE, PILOT: Warren tells them that the end of the world is near, and it will be so many days after the last corner is set on the temple. And then after that, God is going to come, destroy the earth. They're going to be the only people left because they believe that they are the only true tribe of Israel left.

SANCHEZ: Surrounded by nothing but cactus and brush, followers are completely isolated. Locals say only men are allowed to leave the compound. They believe only those with at least three wives will reach heaven, and women will only reach heaven if they have their husband's blessing.

(On camera): What's going to happen if the feds come in here and try and arrest him?

DOYLE: Waco.

SANCHEZ: It will be another Waco?

DOYLE: Without a question.

SANCHEZ (VOICE-OVER): Rick Sanchez, CNN, Eldorado, Texas.

COOPER: Brent Jeffs is a former member of the FLDS and the nephew of Warren Jeffs, who he claims molested him when he was a boy. We spoke earlier.

COOPER: You were looking at those pictures of that compound in Texas. You were never there. What did you think when you saw it?

BRENT JEFFS, NEPHEW OF WARREN JEFFS: It's really -- it's really hard to think that something came from something so small here, up here in the compound up in Sandy.

COOPER: That's where it started up around here?

B. JEFFS: Yes, it started up here and slowly moved down to Colorado City, a quiet little town. And as he took over, escalated into what now is Texas and the big temple down there.

COOPER: It's interesting. I was talking to someone earlier who was saying that Warren Jeffs used to say you didn't need a temple to get to heaven. All you really needed was multiple marriages. But now -- then he changed his mind, and all of a sudden they built this temple.

B. JEFFS: Yes. That's him slowly taking over the people, and in his mind, becoming a god and making all of the decisions for himself, and the people believe him no matter what.

COOPER: What was it like when -- you were a kid growing up in that life and -- I mean, did you believe it for much of your life?

B. JEFFS: Yes, I did, actually, because when we were little, ever since we were old enough to walk and talk, we went to church with our parents and was taught that religion over and over and over and over. And so we knew nothing else. And so we thought that was the way it was.

COOPER: And it's interesting because, I mean, what people here in Salt Lake will keep reminding you, and rightfully so, is that this is not the Mormon church. This is this offshoot. But they actually believe -- Warren Jeffs believes that they are the true Mormons.

B. JEFFS: Yes. They think that they are the true break-off from the Mormon church and they're the true and chosen people.

COOPER: Because they're still holding onto polygamy, whereas the Mormon church gave it up in 1890.

B. JEFFS: Absolutely. And so I think that's where it should have ended, back then.

COOPER: What do you think's going to happen? I mean, where do you see this ending?

B. JEFFS: I see this ending as Warren slipping up. He will slip up, and we will nab him and hopefully see him in the courtroom and try him.

COOPER: Do you -- what would you say to him? I mean...

B. JEFFS: You know, a lot of things come to mind, but I would say to him, you know what you did. And you know what you did to my family and all these other families. And you need to pay for what you did.

COOPER: I think it's hard for a lot of people to understand the power that one man can have in a community like that. I mean, he's literally able to break up families and has reassigned people's wives to other families and cast young kids out.

B. JEFFS: Yes. It's sad to see all these, you know, like these "Lost Boys," their dads kicking them out because of all these old men wanting to take these new young brides. It's sad to see, but they think in their heads if they don't do exactly what he says, they'll burn in hell.

COOPER: Well, Brent, I know it's been a tough road for you. Appreciate you talking with us again tonight. Thank you very much.

B. JEFFS: Thank you.

COOPER: Before he became a fugitive, Warren Jeffs gave his followers some disturbing commands to obey. Here's the raw data. According to the Southern Poverty of Law Center, Jeffs ordered all dogs shot, he banned television, movies, music, even holidays. Jeffs reportedly also outlawed laughter and dispatched young men to make sure his disciples were heeding his every word.

(voice-over): Of course, banning laughter is a minor thing compared to some of the crimes that Jeffs is accused of. Coming up, you're going to meet the man who calls himself an enemy of Warren Jeffs, the investigator, a Mormon out to get the leader of the polygamist sect.

Plus, you'll meet a former polygamist who lost his faith and now says that Warren Jeffs is running a cult. We'll have his story and his new mission.

(On camera): And the other side of polygamy.

JOYCE, POLYGAMIST: I love my husband dearly, but the other ladies in the house probably have a closer -- I might have a closer relationship with them.

COOPER (voice-over): Women living the polygamist lifestyle who say they love it.

Their story and more when this special edition of 360 continues.


W. JEFFS: Dear wives, realizing happiness is only being a part and a strength to your husband. Get close to him. Confide in him. Don't let your former family be your total confidence. It should be your new husband. Turn to him with a full heart and give him the opportunity to lead you right.

COOPER: The word, according to Warren Jeffs. Jeffs' control techniques utilize brainwashing, intimidation and isolation. Were it not for the civil cases against him, the scandals might be known only to his alleged victims and church members.

Here's a look at a man who has become Jeffs' nemesis.

(Voice-over): Though he says he never intended it, this man's become a relentless avenger, Sam Brower says digging into Warren Jeffs' secret world isn't just business for him, it's personal.

SAM BROWER, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: I am an enemy to Warren Jeffs. I am an enemy to child abusers.

COOPER: Brower is a private investigator and a Mormon. With each new case he takes, he says he's more and more appalled by how he says Jeffs, as a prophet and a leader, has perverted the faith. BROWER: This is where Warren used to live.

COOPER: It began three years ago when Brower volunteered to help a husband who was being evicted by Jeffs and his church.

Remember, in Colorado City, the church owns all the property. Throwing out boys and men who are disloyal to Jeffs was not unusual.

BROWER: I promise you they're watching us right now.

COOPER: In fact, Brower says it was not unusual for the wives to choose to stay behind and with the prophet. What Brower revealed, helped the husband to keep his home, but it also made Brower enemies.

BROWER: Normally I am armed.

COOPER: Brower also started investigations on behalf of the so- called "Lost Boys," who had been thrown out of the sect and in some cases, claimed Jeffs sodomized them.

He also took on the case of a young woman who says she was underage when Jeffs forced her to marry an older man. These cases are still in the courts.

BROWER: These are all files, correspondence and so forth.

COOPER: Brower's investigations have unearthed details in Jeffs' life, going back to his days as a school principal in Sandy, Utah. His office, a mother lode of information about Jeffs and his followers. Files, photos, audiotapes. Brower says he's listened to just about every sermon and speech Jeffs recorded, all because he wants to know him well enough to shut him down.

BROWER: It's really hard to get a grip and wrap your mind around people that are so blindly loyal and such religious zealots.

COOPER: Brower has also been trying to follow the money. He believes Jeffs still receives millions of dollars from businesses run by his followers, so he methodically checks business records.

BROWER: And this is the absolute -- absolutely, the most complicated case I've ever worked on. When you have somebody -- a family that lives in one house, one day, and the next day, they're living in another house, and they've taken on another name and they have a different head of the household, it's really hard to track.

COOPER: Sam Brower says the more he knows about Jeffs and the power he wields over his followers, the more concerned he gets.

W. JEFFS: I want to remind you that the prophets have taught us (inaudible) of God is commanded to kill another man. He is never bloodthirsty.

COOPER: It means when Brower goes looking for Warren Jeffs, he knows he's in enemy territory.

BROWER: Get away from the car.

COOPER: Although Brower has never met Warren Jeffs, he says Jeffs and his followers are religious fanatics, that they've created a Taliban right here in the desert here.

(On camera): From a man on a mission, to one who has renounced his past.

(Voice-over): He once had multiple wives, raised more than a dozen children. He'll tell us how his life with them fell apart and why he considers Warren Jeffs a serious public threat.

Plus, a woman's view.

CAROLYN JESSOP, LEFT FLDS SECT: You're not allowed any form of birth control. And to say, you know, I am -- I really can't handle it. I'm having too many children, I'm having them too fast is a mortal sin.

COOPER: She managed to break free of Warren Jeffs' church. She'll reveal more on why she escaped and how she tried to save her children, when this special edition of 360 continues.


COOPER (on camera): Among the people we've met here in Salt Lake city is a man who believes otherwise. The way he sees it, polygamy is a cancer in America and exposing Warren Jeffs is just part of the battle that must be waged.

(Voice-over): in a cramped office in his home outside Salt Lake City, John Llewellyn is working to stop the spread of polygamy.

JOHN LLEWELLYN, FORMER POLYGAMIST: It has brought badly needed attention to the problems of polygamy here in Utah.

COOPER: An expert on polygamist sects, John gives interviews and writes books about the hidden world of polygamist groups like Warren Jeffs'.

LLEWELLYN: It's amazing, the power -- and this is why they're cults. And the pro-polygamists get very upset. They're very sensitive if you use the word cult. But there's no other way you can define it.

COOPER (on camera): John says Warren Jeffs has total control over his followers, routinely breaking up marriages and destroying families.

That families can be ripped apart is hard to imagine.

LLEWELLYN: I know it's hard to imagine, but when you're raised from infancy, from the time that you can understand a word and you have been indoctrinated to believe that he controls every aspect of your life, that he's the spokesman for God, that's why they do it. COOPER (voice-over): What makes John Llewellyn particularly knowledgeable about polygamists is that he himself used to be one. He once had three wives.

Where did everyone live?

LLEWELLYN: Well, at a house about 100 yards away from here. Two wives lived there, when I had the three. One upstairs and one downstairs, like a duplex. Then the other wife lived right here.

COOPER (on camera): I see.

LLEWELLYN: So, you know, it took me 30 seconds to walk from one place to the next.

COOPER: So would you spend one night in one house? Or several -- how would you arrange it?

LLEWELLYN: I tried to average it out evenly. So I'd go from one house, you know, one, two, three, just make the rounds.

COOPER (voice-over): John raised 13 children with his three wives. He now has 27 grandchildren.

What was it like having three wives?

LLEWELLYN: Well, it wasn't the bed of roses that you might think. There were times when's all three of them were mad at me. And I'd tell myself, Llewellyn, you've got yourself in a mess this time. Most of the time was spent in keeping the peace.

COOPER: In 1994, the peace shattered. John says he lost faith in the leaders of his polygamist sect and decided to leave the life.

So your first wife divorced you, became the fifth wife of another polygamist?


COOPER: And your third wife stayed?

LLEWELLYN: She divorced me and she stayed with the priesthood, and I left.

COOPER: So your wife now is -- was your second wife back then?

LLEWELLYN: Right, right.

COOPER: It's confusing, but John's wife, Shawna (ph), was once his second wife. They're still married. She runs the family's flower business. They both renounced polygamy, but live in a community where there are still dozens of polygamist families.

LLEWELLYN: Polygamists live right here in this house.

COOPER: John took us to the temple where he used to worship with other polygamists.

LLEWELLYN: There are some kids playing. These guys here, they don't recognize any of their marriage. So if they see another man's wife and they want her, they'll try and convert her if they can. And a lot of these guys have done it.

COOPER (on camera): John Llewellyn is hoping that Warren Jeffs' story wakes the rest of the country up to the realities of polygamy and fundamentalist sects.

LLEWELLYN: Look at it this way. It attracts fanatics, it attracts pedophiles, it attracts con men, it attracts people that are looking for power.

COOPER (voice-over): And based on his own experiences, he believes even if Warren Jeffs is caught, the desire for power will lead someone else to try and take his place.

(On camera): Carolyn Jessop is another person who wants the world to know about Warren Jeffs. She made a daring escape from his camp and risked her life, her safety, to take her kids. She was almost caught. Her story is coming up.

Plus, polygamy up north, inside a Canadian community where the practice is thriving, but support for Warren Jeffs is split.

This is a special edition of 360.


W. JEFFS: You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, or rude and filthy, uncomely, disagreeable, and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all of the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.

COOPER: The voice of Warren Jeffs. We only get to hear it in bits and pieces through recordings of his sermons like the one you just listened to.

Our next guest, Carolyn Jessop, has heard a lot more. She was a member of Jeffs' polygamist sect, but managed to escape. I'll have my interview with her in a moment, but first, here is her remarkable story.

COOPER (voice-over): Carolyn Jessop grew up in a polygamous family in the FLDS sect in Colorado City, Arizona. She dreamed of going to college and becoming a pediatrician. Her father went to ask the prophet for permission, and was told Carolyn Jessop had to get married first. That was nearly 20 years ago. The prophet then was Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' father.

CAROLYN JESSOP, LEFT FLDS SECT: I didn't really know what to do with it. It's just like you can see something really bad's coming down, you can see your life's going in a direction that's the worst place you'd ever want it to go, but yet there's nothing you can do to stop it.

COOPER: The man chosen to be Carolyn's husband, a 50-year old man who already had three wives and would eventually take several more.

JESSOP: I get in this car with this strange man, 32 years older than me, and we're going to get married that day and drive to his house to meet his family. It was like watching a horror movie, except for I was in the front seat of it.

COOPER: Carolyn moved in to her husband's home.

JESSOP: It was bad from the beginning. I mean, there was few, if any, happy moments. You're not allowed any form of birth control. And to say, you know, I really can't handle it, I'm having too many children, I'm having them too fast, is a mortal sin. And so, of course, if your husband sees you as worthy and he wants to father a baby with you, then it is considered a sin unto death to refuse him.

COOPER: She had eight children in 15 years, including a son who was severely disabled. Eventually there were five wives in her home and 54 children. Life became more extreme when Warren Jeffs took control of the sect after his father's death in 2002.

JESSOP: A lot of things changed when he took over. The children were pulled out of public schools and everybody was put into private schools. And then they burned all the books.

COOPER: Shortly afterwards, at the age of 35, Carolyn started thinking about the unthinkable -- escape.

JESSOP: Living in these polygamous homes -- or the one that I lived in, is like living in a police state. Everyone reports everything on everybody else.

COOPER: One night she had an unexpected opportunity. Her husband was out of town and all eight children were home. She called a brother in Salt Lake City.

JESSOP: He said, you know, Carolyn, I will do anything and everything I can to help you, but if I leave right now the soonest I can be there is at 5:00 in the morning. I said, will you do it? And he said, I'll be there, but I don't want to come into the community. So he wanted me to drive three miles outside of the community and meet him at a store, it was called Canaan Corner.

The next issue was not letting the children know. There is no possible way they would have come with me knowing what I was doing. They were terrified of the outside world. So I had to come up with a story.

So I got them up about 4:00 o'clock that morning. And I told them Harrison was extremely sick and that I had to take him to the doctor, which was common, that was life.

And -- but I told them well, Arthur is here and so I want to get family pictures. And so everybody is coming with me this time.

One of Merrill's other's wives walks in on my oldest daughter getting dressed and starts demanding answers. And so about 4:30 that morning I hear over the intercom, Merrill wants to talk to me on the phone. I knew I was -- I knew they were on to me.

COOPER: Carolyn began piling her children into the van.

JESSOP: The last person I went in and got was Harrison. I took him off his oxygen, put him in his car seat, and I thought everybody was there. I got in the front seat and I was just about to put the key in the ignition.

COOPER: But her oldest daughter was missing.

JESSOP: You know, honestly, it was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had in my life. I mean, because I knew I was out of time. And do I leave her? Do I leave one and save seven? Or do I go back in and get her and none of us get out?

COOPER: She made a split-second decision and ran inside her house.

JESSOP: But she didn't want to come. And she was crying and you know, she said, Mother there is something you're doing that's wrong. Why doesn't Father know what you're doing?

COOPER: Carolyn grabbed her daughter and pulled her into the van.

JESSOP: After I got out of the community, then the realization that my van was completely out of gas. So, it was like just making it on a prayer that I could get three miles out of town.

And about a mile before I got to Canaan Corner, the van was sputtering. It was definitely out. But I made it there.

COOPER: She met her brother and reached safety. Her life began all over again.

JESSOP: I have something now that I've never had in my life before. I have hope.

COOPER: Carolyn had to fight a bitter legal battle for custody of her children. But in the end, she prevailed. They all live together near Salt Lake City.

JESSOP: I think that one of the things that the outside world doesn't understand about the world that I come from, is that they see the polygamous lifestyle as an issue about religious freedom, religious rights. But what I've experienced is it's basically about human rights issues. You're not supposed to think. You're supposed to be willing to be perfectly obedient. To me, I see it as a life of slavery.

COOPER (on camera): There's still a lot more to her story. Earlier I spoke with Carolyn Jessop about her life under control of Warren Jeffs and what it's like now.

We were talking during the break about the kids who really are not getting an education under Warren Jeffs.

JESSOP: Yes. A few years before I left, when Warren basically shut down all the public schools, and he pulled all of the fundamentalist children out of the school system, into a private school system. And then he burned all the books.

COOPER: Why burn all the books?

JESSOP: Because he didn't want the children exposed to anything from the outside world. And after I left, my children were so severely behind, they were basically illiterate. They're not getting an education right now. And this has been going on for seven, eight years. So we've got children now that have progressed through the whole private school system, and they are completely illiterate.

COOPER: And for someone like yourself, who left, I mean, are there resources when you leave? I mean, how do you readjust to life?

JESSOP: When I left, there was absolutely no resources, whatsoever, for the type of needs a polygamist woman, you know, requires to get stabilized. In fact, I was discriminated against.

COOPER: How so?

JESSOP: Well, like Crime Victims Assistance for the state of Utah denied the case. They refused to help. And they said that I was a victim, my children were victims, and we met the victim qualifications, but they do not help women flee polygamist relationships.

COOPER: That seems bizarre.

JESSOP: Their excuse for it is that women leaving polygamist relationships always go back, so they refuse help. The reason women go back is because there's not enough help.

COOPER: Do you feel like authorities here, I mean, there's action now. There's a lot of attention on this. The FBI, the state attorney general, but, I mean, they've known about this for a long time.

JESSOP: Yes. The authorities have known about it for ever since the time of the 1953 raid. It's just that the raid went so bad for the authorities, it cost people their positions in government. And it's just been known ever since that if you want to touch polygamy, it will cost you your political career.

COOPER: So some politicians, you're saying, don't want to touch it just because it's politically, it's suicide for them?

JESSOP: Exactly.

COOPER: Because there's still support for polygamists? JESSOP: Well, they just haven't had good success in stopping polygamy with prosecution. People will go to prison for polygamy. They come out, they're martyrs by the polygamist society, and they go right back to living it, and it's drove the polygamists' lifestyle into secrecy and it's actually made it stronger.

COOPER: You know, there may be some people watching this, that say well, look, you know, Warren Jeffs, OK, he seems like a bad guy, but what's the big deal? I mean, why should people care about it? Is he really that bad?

JESSOP: Well, yes, he absolutely is. And he's committing crimes against children. And if you look at the crimes he commits against adults, it has a terrible impact on a child's life, to the point that the child never fully recovers. I mean, imagine a child one day, his father comes home and says I'm not worthy to be your father and you will never see me again.

COOPER: It's hard to believe that it is still going on in this day and age. Carolyn Jessop, your story is just remarkable and you have such courage. And I appreciate you coming and talking with us. Thank you.

JESSOP: Well, thank you for the invitation.

What began in Utah, has spread far and wide. Our next stop on the trail of Warren Jeffs is Canada.

(Voice-over): A community called Bountiful. A town divided in its support for Jeffs, but united by the lifestyle they say they chose.

Plus, a rare look inside the world of polygamy. You'll hear from women and men who believe their lifestyle is God's will, and the only way they can get to heaven. Candid talk on sharing husbands and living secret lives, next on 360.


COOPER (on camera): Welcome back to this special edition of 360. We're going to head north now to Canada, where polygamy is illegal, just as it is here in the United States. Illegal, but certainly not extinct. For decades the lifestyle has flourished in a small community in British Columbia, a community that has ties to Warren Jeffs. The name of the town, fittingly is Bountiful.

Here's CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winston Blackmore is one of the top polygamist leaders in North America. He's 49, is said to be worth millions of dollars to have as many as 26 wives and 100 children, although he wouldn't confirm any of that when we talk with him today. WINSTON BLACKMORE, POLYGAMIST: That's -- I leave that decision to the mothers. You know, and they do make that decision. Some of them have.

SIMON: Some of them have decided no more children?

BLACKMORE: Yes. They're where they want to be and that's it.

SIMON: Blackmore has lived his entire life in this polygamist community in Canada called Bountiful. For 18 years he was its leader, a bishop in the fundamentalist church of Latter-Day Saints, until he was ex-communicated by the head of the church, now Fugitive Warren Jeffs.

But about half of Bountiful has remained loyal to Blackmore, rather than to his replacement, making this a community divided, but also at peace.

About 1,000 people live here, nearly all of them in a polygamist lifestyle. You won't find any stores or restaurants here, just farmland. That's how Blackmore makes his living.

(On camera): So what do you raise here?

BLACKMORE: We just mostly raise alfalfa and we have a few beef cows.

SIMON: Here we find him greeting one of his oldest sons who recently married and has two children.

He's got a lot of catching up to do, doesn't he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It won't take him long.

SIMON (voice-over): That's because over time he expects to take on additional wives like his father. Blackmore refuses to discuss that aspect of fundamentalist Mormonism, other than to say...

BLACKMORE: You know our life is less about bedroom scenes than you think.

SIMON: ...and when challenged on those who find polygamy morally wrong...

BLACKMMORE: All I would basically say to those guys is, go list everybody you've ever had sex with and publish it on the front page of the newspaper. You know? So that everybody can see. And then come judge us.

SIMON: As for the children in Bountiful, they all go to school, but many girls never finish so they can help with family life. The motto for women here is, keep sweet and obey men.

But Blackmore says that's not how it is around his house. He says his wives call the shots more than he does. This is Edith. EDITH, WIFE OF BLACKMORE: We have our own free agency to decide for ourselves what we want to do. Nobody tells me what to do and I don't tell anybody else what to do.

SIMON: Blackmore says he's turned down movies and TV offers for rights to his life story.

They offered you $2 million for your story rights?


SIMON: And you said?

BLACKMORE: Absolutely not. Our religion isn't for sale. You know, here we are, we're just doing what we do.

SIMON: As in the U.S., polygamy is illegal in Canada. But since Bountiful was founded in 1947, no one has been jailed for it.


COOPER (on camera): We head south, next to Arizona, another place polygamy is hiding in plain sight. In Colorado City, we found women and men who were willing to talk candidly about their lifestyle choice, why they don't mind sharing husbands and houses, and the disapproval of outsiders. That story next, on 360.


ERICA HILL CNN CORRESPONDENT: We'll return to "Hiding in Plain Sight: Polygamy" in just a moment, but first, I'm Erica Hill from "HEADLINE NEWS," with a look at some of the other stories making news tonight.

And we begin in Washington, where members of the Minutemen Project wrapped up a cross-country procession at the capitol steps. The group wants security on the Mexican border beefed up. Monday night in a national televised address, President Bush is expected to talk about border security and immigration.

U.N. nuclear inspectors say they found new traces of bomb grade uranium at a site in Iran, linked to the country's defense ministry. Iran denies having a weapons program. The inspectors say it will take further testing to determine whether the material is simply trace residue from equipment bought overseas or the real homegrown deal.

The federal agents today searched the home of the former number three man at the CIA, "Dusty" Foggo. They also searched his old office. Mr. Foggo stepped down recently in connection with the Duke Cunningham corruption scandal. Foggo's lawyer says his client has done nothing wrong.

And there's no scandal here. The woman bailing out, by the way, isn't doing it for any other reason than pure adventure. An adventure Glenda Sparks of northwestern Oregon has waited 86 years to experience. Although as a young girl in Idaho, she was apparently a motorcycle daredevil, once jumping 20 cars on the back of a bike. Apparently she's not done yet.

I'm Erica Hill. We'll have more of our 360 special report next.


COOPER: (On camera): we've heard from those who have left polygamy and now want nothing more than to stop its spread.

We've also heard from those who have spent years investigating polygamy's dark side.

Now to voices rarely heard in public. We wanted to know what life is like for those who continue to practice polygamy. It wasn't easy to find families willing to go on camera, but our Gary Tuchman did.

It's important to note, however, these are not followers of Warren Jeffs, but they are fundamentalist Mormons. Gary Tuchman found them in Colorado City, Arizona, where polygamy isn't just the theme of a new HBO series.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A daughter and a mother.

CHRISTINE, DAUGHTER, POLYGAMIST: I've never had people make fun of me, but I don't think they know.

TUCHMAN: What they don't know is that Daughter Christine, lives in 32-bedroom house with many siblings and many mothers. For security reasons Mother Linda, doesn't want to give exact numbers.

(On camera): Do you know how many wives there are?


TUCHMAN: Is it between 10 and 15?

LINDA: Yes. That would be safe to say.

TUCHMAN: And the kids, the range, how many kids?

LINDA: More than 30. All my kids are sweethearts.

TUCHMAN: Most polygamists' homes are not this big, but size is a nice luxury to have in these kinds of families.

Looks like Versailles.

(Voice-over): The children are all fathered by one man -- one husband, who, because polygamy is against the law, doesn't feel safe appearing on camera. Neither do the rest of his wives who in most cases have paying jobs. They won't tell us what their husband does to pay for such a big house.

Here in the neighboring communities of Colorado City and Centennial Park, Arizona, most homes are polygamists. People don't want their last names used because they're afraid.

(On camera): But Mark doesn't mind talking. He's only married to one woman, but that's just temporary.

Would you like to have 10 or more wives like your father did?

MARK, POLYGAMIST: Sure. Why not? The more, the merrier.

TUCHMAN: It's not only men who talk like that here.

(Voice-over): We gathered a group of polygamists from different families who say, as fundamentalist Mormons, God has obligated them to live in pluralistic marriages.

JOYCE, POLYGAMIST: And we do believe that he has commended it.

TUCHMAN: Joyce doesn't want to divulge how many wives she shares her husband with and how many children they have, but she says she's very happy.

(On camera): Aren't there times where you say I just wish he was with me and had me alone?

JOYCE: No. Honestly, no.

TUCHMAN: I mean, you're sharing your husband, right?

JOYCE: Yes. Yes.

TUCHMAN: And that's OK with you?

JOYCE: You know, they're my best friends.

TUCHMAN: Your -- other wives?

JOYCE: Absolutely. They really are. In fact, I love my husband dearly, but the other ladies in the house probably have a closer -- I might have a closer relationship with them.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): In an effort to avoid trouble, most of the polygamist families in this community get an official marriage certificate only for the first marriage in the household.

Priscilla lives with several "sister wives," as they're called, and many children.

(On camera): I mean, when you see women out there who say, you guys are just being taken advantage of. You know, by men who want to be with lots of women.

PRISCILLA, POLYGAMIST: We say you're being taken advantage of. That's what we would say to them.


PRISCILLA: Because so many of them don't have a committed relationship.

TUCHMAN: They know their childhoods and their families sound very unusual to most people.

PRISCILLA: We had more than four mothers.

TUCHMAN: And how many brothers and sisters?

PRISCILLA: Total, at the end of the family, we had more than 30.

JOYCE: I had three. And we had more than 20 children in our family.

TUCHMAN: How many of you have had relatives who have gone to jail for polygamy?

So six of you?

Grandparents? Parents?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Grandparents, and father.

TUCHMAN: In jail for polygamy?


TUCHMAN: And how did that affect your families?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was devastating. My grandfather...

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The people in our group say they are not followers of Polygamy Leader Warren Jeffs, who is wanted by the FBI. But they are not ready to vilify him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no idea. We don't know what he's done.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Would any of you let your 14-year-old or 15-year-old daughters get married?



TUCHMAN: 16 or 17?


TUCHMAN: Not until they're 18?




TUCHMAN (voice-over): They say they've all watched the new HBO show about polygamy, called "Big Love."

Do you like it?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's entertaining.


TUCHMAN (on camera): Is it realistic?



TUCHMAN (voice-over): There's a lot of sex in that show, isn't there?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which is why a lot of our people stopped watching after the first couple of episodes.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So that's unrealistic?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, I don't know.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Which brings up this question.

How is it decided which wife the husband sleeps with on a given night?

JOYCE: We draw straws. And the one with the short straw has to.


JOYCE: No offense to the man. We love our husbands very much. We communicate.

TUCHMAN: These women say their husbands do have significant stamina.

(On camera): I mean, what an ego boost for the man, to be loved by so many women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What an ego boost for the women to be loved by such a good man.

JOYCE: It's a win-win proposition.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): These people enjoy joking around, but they get very serious when they declare the mainstream Mormon Church made a mistake when polygamy was banned more than a century ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We stand in support of the principle of plural marriage as a sacred, religious tenet.

TUCHMAN: Polygamy will not be disappearing anytime soon from this nook in Arizona.

(On camera): Are any of you ladies at the point where you would not want your husband to take another wife?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The more, the better.

COOPER: More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.


COOPER: Thanks very much for watching this special edition of 360.

"LARRY KING" is next.



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