Ex-child bride had 'miscarriages' while married to cousinby Richard Bailey 19/02/2018 22:45:00 0 comments 1 Views
- FLDS ex-leader Warren Jeffs forced Elissa Wall to marry her 19-year-old cousin Allen Steed when she was just 14 years old
- Jeffs performed the marriage ceremony and after pressured her to have children with Steed, but she suffered several miscarriages and a stillbirth
- Wall described leading a 'very secret lifestyle' where they didn't interact with the outside world
- Wall eventually divorced her husband and the left church aged 18 before she testified against Jeffs during his criminal trials
- A judge awarded her $12million in punitive damages and $4million in damages in a lawsuit she filed against Jeffs, in September
- Wall is opening up about her experiences on a new documentary for A&E, named Warren Jeffs: Prophet of Evil
By Hannah Parry For Dailymail.com
Published: 22:26 EST, 19 February 2018 | Updated: 22:45 EST, 19 February 2018
The ex-child bride who helped take down Warren Jeffs has revealed that she suffered several miscarriage and a still birth after she was forced to marry her 19-year-old first cousin when she was just 14.
Elissa Wall, now 31, was awarded $16million in damages against Mormon cult leader Jeffs, last September, after she was the star witness in the trial that ultimately put him away.
A judge noted that as the leader of the isolated sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) Jeffs had control over every aspect of his followers' lives. He was responsible for arranging for Wall, then 14, to marry her first cousin Allen Steed, then 19, over her objections.
Now, as part of a new documentary for A&E, named Warren Jeffs: Prophet of Evil, Wall has opened up about her abusive childhood growing up in the Utah-based cult which had an estimated 15,000 followers at one time.
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Elissa Wall, now 31, was awarded $16million in damages against Mormon cult leader Jeffs, last September
Wall, who was born into the FLDS church in Utah, described growing up in the isolated and secretive community.
'We led a very secret lifestyle,' she told Fox News. 'We didn't interact with the outside world. We didn't go to public school. We were educated, cultivated and bred to be products of the church and the religion.'
She said that church members were fed lies about non-believers, who were described as 'evil disciples of the devil' but she questioned these claims early on.
Jeffs, who was referred to as 'Uncle Warren' growing up, was a huge presence in her life and Wall said that children of the cult would grow up listening to tapes of Jeffs again and again to learn the history of the church.
'It became the backdrop of our childhood,' she said.
Elissa Wall pictured being forcibly kissed by her 19-year-old first cousin Allen Steed after their forced marriage
In 2001, Jeffs made the decision that Wall's childhood was over. Aged just 14, and despite her tearful pleas, she was married to Steed. She says the abuse began almost immediately
In 2001, Jeffs made the decision that Wall's childhood was over.
Aged just 14, and despite her tearful pleas, she was married to Steed.
She says the abuse began almost immediately.
'Mentally, it was immediate,' she said. 'I was now the property of my cousin. And no matter how resistant I was to him, his job was to get me into submission as quickly as possible… Then the sexual abuse came later as he started to force himself on me and force that my role as a wife was to be at his beck and call and to have his children.
'And when I became resistant to that, then the physical abuse started to take over. And I think the frustration of my cousin, his frustration of being judged for not being a good man because his wife wasn't submissive and she wasn't good — that all compounded the problem.'
Wall suffered several miscarriages and a still-birth during the almost four-year-long forced marriage. All the while, she says that the abuse continued. Her pleas to Jeffs to intervene resulted only in her being told off for not being submissive enough.
Third District Judge Keith Kelly awarded Elissa Wall (left) $12million in punitive damages and $4million in damages in the lawsuit she filed in 2005 against Warren Jeffs (right), the former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) president
'I really think at the time it was about submission,' Wall told Fox News about the illegal marriage. 'I could have become a really big problem for the community and for Warren. I was a little more outspoken than the average girl. But I really think it was about pounding me into submission… I was just the next player he wanted to eliminate and to quickly get control over.'
Steed would later plead guilty to solemnization of a prohibited marriage and pleaded no contest to unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
He received just 30 days in jail and three years of probation.
In 2005, Wall finally fled the church aged 18.
When she left she was forced to leave her entire family behind - the hardest part of which was abandoning her two younger sisters. But she said that, at the time, there was a 'giant canyon between us.'
She said that the reason she first came forward to testify, wasn't to take down Jeffs, but to save her sisters.
The lawsuit stems from the fact that Jeffs forced Wall to marry her 19-year-old cousin Allen Steed when she was just 14 years old (above together shortly after the wedding)
In 2006, Jeffs - who had been on the run for four months - was finally arrested and charged with facilitating polygamous marriages involving underage girls.
At his trial the following years, Wall met the man who forced her to marry her adult cousin, and locked eyes with him in court.
She added that she 'felt this overwhelming power that consumed my very soul and I refused to drop eyes.'
'That was my stand. If I can keep contact with him, I can prove to myself that he didn't control me… I was liberating myself from his control. I was beginning to free myself from the anger I had towards him.'
After facing him in court, Wall has been able to get on with her own life.
She has been able to reconnect with her beloved sisters, although she has not been able to reach her mother - who was born and raised in the church.
Wall is a single mother a son, 13, and an 11-year-old daughter in Utah, and has also founded a kids' clothing company.
Wall, who was born into the FLDS church in Utah, described growing up in the isolated and secretive community (pictured as a young girl is the sect, left and right)
In the ruling, the judge noted that Jeffs controlled FLDS and key aspects of Wall's life when he arranged for her to marry Steed over her objections. Wall (center) said Steed was a violent man who raped her often
In September, Third District Judge Keith Kelly awarded Wall $12million in punitive damages and $4million in damages in the lawsuit she filed in 2005 against Jeffs.
'The judgment handed down by the Court is a big step forward in the fight for a strong and unmovable statement to the world that no one, especially children, can be sexual[ly] exploited and abused in the name of religion,' Wall said in a news release said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
When the events occurred, Wall filed the case under the pseudonym 'MJ'. Her attorney Alan Mortensen said that the ruling now allows for her to collect the money from either Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in prison, or the church.
Mortensen added that they may pursue FLDS assets in several states along with Mexico and Canada.
'It's so the church feels the pain of what their doctrine has been as to the rape of young girls,' Mortensen told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Neither Jeffs nor the church defended himself or itself in the lawsuit.
Jeffs has been behind bars since 2006 after he was sentenced to life plus 20 years in a Texas prison when he was convicted of several sexual abuse charges with two girls he married as plural wives. Above are dozens of Jeffs's brides
In the ruling, the judge noted that Jeffs controlled FLDS and key aspects of Wall's life when he arranged for her to marry Allen Steed, then 19, over her objections.
Wall testified during Jeffs' trial in St. George that she has trust issues and other problematic effects from the relationship.
During this trial he was charged with rape as an accomplice, and was convicted by a jury. But the Utah Supreme Court overturned the conviction.
Warren (above in an arrest photo from 2006) was the former President of the FLDS
Jeffs has been behind bars since 2006 after he was sentenced to life plus 20 years in a Texas prison when he was convicted of several sexual abuse charges with two girls he married as plural wives.
In 2016, Wall was awarded $2.75million in cash and property from the United Effort Plan, which is the trust that holds much of the property in Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona for the traditional home of the FLDS.
Wall sued the trust now controlled by the state to hold leaders accountable for abuses such as underage marriage, her lawyer said.
The new governing board of the trust said in a statement they appreciated that she spoke out publicly against Jeffs.
Under that agreement, Wall received $1.5 million in cash, said property trust lawyer Jeffrey Shields.
She also received a house in Hildale and a 40-acre piece of property in Colorado City with a total value of $1.25 million.
'She's done enough for this community, I think she's entitled to a residence,' Shields said.
The trust holds nearly all the land, homes and businesses in the home base of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along the Utah-Arizona border.
Estimated to be worth about $110 million, it was built to fulfill a belief in holding property communally.
'Warren Jeffs: Prophet of Evil' airs Monday at 9 p.m. on A&E.