Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Polygamy Law updates - Anonymous Witness #2

From transcript of Jan 25, 2011
Testimony of Witness # 2 - Anonymous - given in another court room in presence of Judge, FLDS lawyer and court staff only. Viewed by video not on the witness in session court room for other lawyers.

Witness #2 ia a woman in her early 40's who was born in Lister, BC (just outside of Creston) and raised in the FLDS at Bountiful in a family where the father had five wives.

Witness #2 (W2) lived in a home with three of the wives and 30 children, 15 of which were full siblings. She has three siblings that have left the community and interractions with them are respectful but they have different values and fewer commonalities now. Education was very important in her family and she was encouraged to finish high school, attending school in Bountiful and achieved her grade 12. She went on to six years of post secondary education and a diploma there as well. She has held jobs both in the community and outside of the community for 19 years.

W2 was married at 16 years of age and is in a plural marriage with one other wife. She believes that plural marriage is required to attain the highest degree in the celestial kingdom but that plural marriage requires considerable amount of faith and determination and is thus not for everyone within the FlDS.

When W2 was 16 years old, she was interested in going to college and her parents suggested that marriage might help her get there. She thought about it and decided that getting married would be a good idea and so her parents went to the Prophet. A Elder of good standing in the church was presented as a potential spouse to her and she was given option to turn the match down. She didn't know him but knew of him and decided it was a good match. She was married three months later. During that three months she met with her future spouse every weekend.

She has lived in the a different house from her sister wife but currently they share the same home again. They are both committed to getting along and when conflicts arrise they are dealt with using discussion, negotiation and concilation.

W2 is says her husband supported her education and took care of the children when she needed to be away. Her one regret was that she had to be away from very young children for longer than she would have liked and thus might have waited to have her children in retrospect. Currently the policy in the community is that there are no marriages with people under 18 years of age. She agrees that this is best.

W2 has nine children and has encouraged them to make free choices about marriage partners. She has 4 that are over 18 years of age. Her daughter was married at 15 to a 19 year old boy that she was friendly with and wanted to have a relationship with. Her parents discouraged the situation but the daughter went to the prophet for permission to marry and it was granted. The daughter is now 26 and they have a very good relationship. Her concern was that the daughter would not continue her education but the daughter has begun to do that now.

Asked if she would allow her daughter to have married a much older man, she said no and that there were no consequences to that refusal. Asked if she believed that decisions of the Prophet must always be followed, she said no and that like Joseph Smith himself any man can make mistakes.

W2 has a step-son who was working in a town which is 90 minutes from Bountiful and he was influenced by peers to use alcohol and drugs. They tried to help him overcome these addictions but in the end he decided to leave the community and purse these habits.
The FLDS do not use drugs and alcohol at all. She and her husband have maintained contact and he has expressed interest in returning but cannot kick the habits although counselling has been accessed. He is currently living with the married daughter.

She believes in agency and that she can make choices to follow her faith or not. She says that the polygamy law gives mainstream Canada room to make assumptions and discriminate against members of her community who need to seek counselling and other assistance. She says that decriminalizing polygamy would give much relief to her community in terms of not having to finance legal costs.

Cross-examination by the BCAG:

Creston now incorporates the old town of Lister has been home to some FLDS. The FLDS communities of Bountiful, Canyon, and Arrow Creek border it. Neighbouring Cranbrook,Kitchener and Yahk have been home to many FLDS as well. BCAG asked if these would be places FLDS women might go to birth their children and W2 said yes but some have gone to Calgary and Vancouver as well.

Then followed some bizarre tactic of bullet questioning that attempted to get the witness to identify members of the community and succeeded in getting the witness to identify her career and then read into the transcipt from her education as noted in her affadavit - some of which was objected to by the FLDS lawyer and cautioned by the Judge as being close to violating his court order of anonymity. The tone of this cross was very aggressive and slightly snide.

W2 said that to achieve the highest level of celestial glory a man must have more than one wife. A woman's path was through her father and then her husband as they were her "priesthood head" or the head of the household and the one given responsibility to ensure household members were instructed on the ways to be most Christ-like. She said the she was not taught to give her husband absolute obedience and refers to them as co-parenting the children.

Regarding interaction of boys and girls, W2 said that she played sports with boys but they were taught not to have boyfriends or interract sexually with the boys.

Regarding dress - women tend to wear only dresses, long underwear is optional - custom is to swim in clothing.

Regarding family size - teaching is to have the number of children that you can take care of.

Placement marriage - prophet has an inspired suggestion which is presented to you at a meeting with you and your parents if possible or the prophet advised your father and he told you. Some girls daydreamed and talked about who they would marry and it was something that they looked forward to. She and her sister wife are biological sisters as well.

Education - only university or college has been for teachers and midwifes - she is quoted in her affadavit
you suggest that the reason that
"there aren't more secondary opportunities for Bountiful children is that they do not have the money to pursue higher education because it's all going to defending American church leaders."

W2 was very clear that financial assistance was not required but requested and that she herself also choose to help.

Both W2 and her sister wife, who had 10 children work outside the home full-time as does their husband. Asked if her youngest child (7 years old) was involved in organized sport or other activities outside of the Bountiful community, she said no but others of her children were. The youngest has doctor, dentist appointments in town and use of park and library.

She agreed that she was aware of girls who were married at ages between 15 and 18 years and of 8 or 9 teen girls who came from the US to marry Canadian men. The policy for not marrying under 18 years of age came in about a year and a half ago and there have been no marriages since its implementation.

She discussed giving an affidavit for this court hearing with her husband but not the content of it. She was interviewed by Prof Angela Campbell.

Cross-examine by AG of Canada:

Her sister married the husband when she was 16 and the husband was 23. W2 married him six years later and became second wife.
W2 had children with 18 mos to 4 year spacing. Birth control was not discussed openly but she was familiar with it and discussed it with her daughter. She indicated that divorce or separation was an option available and that it did not require either spouse leaving the community nor was the wife required to accept being placed with another spouse.

Regarding girls coming up from the US to marry:
W2 says that they enter as visitor visa or student visa and stay as long as they can keep renewing their visa. When the visa expires they leave Canada and go to Idaho until an application for common law status or other permanent status can be arranged.

Cross-examine by WestCoast leaf:

Asked if a woman could ever hold a leadership role (bishop, prophet, priesthood head) in the church community and W2 said no. She confirmed that one tenth of their income is given to the church as tithing and monies given to assist in legal fees is in addition to this regular tithing payments.

Angela Campbell interview - W2 confirmed that she did that interview without the knowledge or approval of any of the church leadership. She told her husband after the fact.

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