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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Inside the World of Polygamy
Aired April 15, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, a shocking look inside the real world of polygamy, the controversial practice of men marrying multiple wives. We'll meet women who say they had to flee arranged marriages in fear and left their religious community whose leader is believed to have had 60 wives. He's now a fugitive charged today with felony rape as an accomplice.
Also with us polygamy advocates who say they've never been happier than to share their husbands. A retired lawman who practiced polygamy for 20 years, then left the lifestyle for one wife. And, the children of polygamy, why do some say they had to run away from it?
It's all next with your calls on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or the Mormons, polygamist marriage wasn't only sanctioned it was highly regarded. But when the church changed its policy on polygamy and banned it in the late 1800s not everybody went along.
And today there are an estimated 37,000 people who still practice plural marriage. Tonight, you'll meet some who sing the praises of polygamy and some who call polygamist community mind controlling cults.
One more thing before we start. Because so many polygamists label themselves Mormon we invited a representative of the official Mormon Church on the show. They declined. But LDS Church President Gordon Hinckley, a frequent guest on this program, did provide a statement which says in part:
"I wish to state categorically that this church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law.
They know they are in violation of the civil law. They are subject to its penalties. The church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatsoever in this matter."
President Hinckley also stated that "If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated; the most serious penalty the church can impose."
We begin tonight with Carolyn Jessop. She's in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the sixth generation polygamist in Colorado City, left the town under cover of darkness with her eight children and calls the FLDS movement a cult.
John Quinones, the co-anchor of ABC News "Primetime," a reporter on a special edition of "Primetime" which focused on polygamy in a small southern Utah town, John how did you come across it?
JOHN QUINONES, ABS NEWS "PRIMETIME" ANCHOR: Well, we've been in and out of that town, Larry, for five years. It is a bizarre world, renegade leaders of this town of 5,000 who practice and rule over a theocracy, much like the Taliban in Afghanistan.
These are fundamentalists who defy both civil authorities and the regular Mormon Church, zealots who answer only to their God and believe that the only way to heaven is through plural marriages that that's the only way you get to the highest levels of the celestial kingdom.
KING: And what does the state, what state is it by the way?
QUINONES: This is in Arizona, just south of the Utah border.
KING: What does the state do about it?
QUINONES: Well, the authorities in both states have been trying to crack down. It's hard to though because these folks aren't married to young women and to multiple women legally. They do it in religious ceremonies so it's very hard to nail them if you will for polygamy.
KING: What does FLDS stand for?
QUINONES: The Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. These are folks, as you well stated, who are not affiliated with the regular Mormon Church but rather believe again that the way to heaven is by having plural marriages. They are extremists and I would say zealots.
KING: And today in Utah, felony charges were officially filed against Colorado City religious leader Warren Jeffs charged with rape as an accomplice, why rape?
QUINONES: Well, because he is known to have married young girls in their young teens to other older members of the church and because he himself has taken young wives.
KING: Hence an accomplice.
KING: Carolyn Jessop, a sixth generation polygamist, how old were you when all this started?
CAROLYN JESSOP, LEFT ARIZONA POLYGAMIST COMMUNITY: When Warren actually took power over the community?
C. JESSOP: He started taking control around six years before his father actually died, so I was in my early 30s or late 20s when he came into power but he didn't actually officially take charge until the death of his father.
KING: Were you married at the time?
C. JESSOP: Oh, yes I was.
KING: And what attracted you if -- did you share your husband with other wives?
C. JESSOP: I was given to a man who was 50 years old when I was 18. It was an arranged marriage. I was pulled out of bed at night by my father at 2:00 in the morning and told that I would be Merrill (ph) Jessop's fourth wife. It wasn't a situation where I was really given an option. It was a situation where I was basically told what I would do.
KING: What was life like?
C. JESSOP: It was extremely difficult. The lifestyle that I experienced was unnatural to every basic human emotion and very challenging to live and very abusive.
KING: Abusive physically and mentally?
C. JESSOP: My ex-husband was abusive physically to many of his wives. There was only one episode of physical violence between the two of us but he was extremely emotionally abusive.
KING: How did you get along with the other wives?
C. JESSOP: That depended. That was very difficult. There was a lot of competition, a lot of jealousy, very difficult living in the same home with six other women.
KING: Did you think you were a Mormon?
C. JESSOP: Actually we were taught that we were the true Mormons that we had held onto the saving principle of celestial marriage and the Mormon Church had gone astray in allowing that principle to die.
KING: How many children do you have?
C. JESSOP: I have eight children.
KING: With that one man?
C. JESSOP: Yes, with Merrill Jessop.
KING: How many other children did he have with the other wives?
C. JESSOP: He has a total of 54 children, so that would be 46 with his other wives.
KING: John Quinones, John this is not typical is it?
QUINONES: Well, most of the folks we visited there had four or five wives. We focused on one family that had two, Lorene (ph) Jessop, who married a man who was also married to her sister.
She talks about her wedding night when they consummated their marriage with the other wife walked into the bedroom and joined in and sat there and watched, one of the most traumatic things she said she's ever been through.
KING: How did you get away Carolyn?
C. JESSOP: I left the community around four o'clock in the morning and basically escaped in the night. I snuck out with my children and I had to leave during a time when my husband was away because there is no way possible that I would have gotten out of the community with the children if he would have been in the community at the time.
KING: Where did you go?
C. JESSOP: I met two of my brothers drove from Salt Lake. They drove all night to come and get me and I met them three miles out of the community and then they took us to Salt Lake and then I hid for several days in the city.
KING: How long ago was this?
C. JESSOP: This was nearly three years ago.
KING: Are you now in any church? Are you in the Mormon Church now?
C. JESSOP: Not currently I'm not currently a member of the Mormon Church or any church right now.
KING: We'll take a break and be right back. Carolyn will remain with us. Other guests will be added. We'll hear some people tonight who are pro-polygamy as well. Don't go away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad had 56 children.
QUINONES: How many wives?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four wives.
QUINONES (voice-over): It was an oppressive childhood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember one time looking out the window just feeling like I was trapped and wishing that I was free.
QUINONES: A year later at 19 she's married to Val Jessop, an older man chosen by the sect. Did you know him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister was married to him and so I knew him a little bit.
QUINONES: How could you marry a man you really don't know and happens to be married to your sister?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: well, I always felt like I was an intruder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATKISS (voice-over): And tonight polygamy activist Flora Jessop heading for a rendezvous with two teenage girls.
FLORA JESSOP: Let's go get my kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of 16-year-olds who have run away from their families in Colorado City and now say they don't want to go back.
F. JESSOP: I don't want to become some 50-year-old man's wife or something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That clip and some of the other clips we'll show you tonight are courtesy of Mike Watkiss. He has put together a documentary on polygamy called "Colorado City and the Underground Railroad."
Carolyn Jessop remains with us as does John Quinones who does noble work for ABC. Joining us now in Phoenix, Arizona is Flora Jessop. She grew up in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, FLDS, community of Colorado City, Arizona, was forced into marriage at age 16, now devotes her time to rescuing girls and young women from similar situations. Her website is www.childpro.org.
And, in Salt Lake City is John Llewelyn, retired Salt Lake County sheriff's lieutenant who practiced polygamy for 20 years as part of a fundamentalist group called the Apostolic United Brethren. He has published four books about polygamy, the latest of which is "The Polygamy Rape of Rachel (ph) Strong, a Protected Environment." He's now married to one woman.
Flora Jessop, you and Carolyn Jessop were married to the same guy?
F. JESSOP: No, no, no. I am a Jessop. My maiden name is Jessop. Carolyn is a Jessop by marriage.
KING: I see so it's just coincidence?
F. JESSOP: Well, everybody is related up there. There's -- we don't have family trees. We have family trunks with leaves.
KING: How long did you live in that circumstance?
F. JESSOP: I was born into it and escaped when I was 16. KING: Did you know it was wrong early?
F. JESSOP: You don't know it's wrong. You think that everybody lives this way. You think that everybody outside the group is evil. I started questioning about when I was about eight years old was when I first started questioning.
KING: John Quinones, did you talk to young people as well?
QUINONES: Yes. We interviewed the two young ladies who Flora rescued one dark night. They had -- they didn't know who the president of the United States was, for example. They thought he was the head of the church. They didn't know what Congress was. They didn't know what elected officials were in that town. No one voted in that town. Their whole world revolves around this little community.
The boys of this town often run away, and I think you'll get into that later, because the older men have taken the young. They don't want any competition from these young teenage boys. These children don't watch much television. They don't have Internet. They're totally isolated.
KING: John Llewelyn were you a polygamist while you were a lieutenant, sheriff's lieutenant?
JOHN LLEWELYN, PRACTICES POLYGAMY FOR 20 YEARS: Yes, I was.
KING: And where was that occurring?
LLEWELYN: Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.
KING: What attracted you to polygamy?
LLEWELYN: I was in charge of all the sex crimes and they gave me the polygamist complaints so being a good detective I started to study Mormonism and polygamy so I'd better understand how to deal with these people.
As a result, I became converted to the -- or active in the LDS Church. I was a member as a child but I had never been active. And while I was learning there was a lady in our ward that wanted my wife and I to adopt her children if something ever happened to her.
And I thought, well you know her parents or her relatives ought to be the ones and so I told my wife "Well, let's tell her we're studying Mormon fundamentalism and see what she says." Lo and behold she did a little research of her own and then she came and asked if she could be part of the family and that was quite a challenge.
KING: So you married her?
LLEWELYN: Yes, I accepted the challenge. I think my Y chromosome got the best of me.
KING: How many wives did you have?
LLEWELYN: I had three wives when I retired in 1982. I have one now.
KING: Were you living in a community of that kind of situation or were you in a regular community?
LLEWELYN: No, we were just in a regular community and somewhat like the model family in "Big Love." In fact, we experienced, loved the same things, the competition between the wives. There's always going to be competition. You know it's unnatural for a first wife to want to share her husband with other women and assets as well.
So, there's got to be some inducement and, of course, the inducement in this case is Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which is the Mormon Scripture relative to the plural marriage.
KING: But you know that the Mormons disbanded that in 1890.
LLEWELYN: Yes, they did. They disbanded it in 1890 but it's still part of the Scripture. They don't practice it but they still believe in it which makes a real contradiction to a lot of the people.
For instance, the group that I was in, Apostolic United Brethren, which was the second largest group, most of the growth came from the frustrated ranks of the LDS Church.
KING: Yes. All right, what took you out of it?
LLEWELYN: It was the deception. It was the claim of infallibility. It was the actual crime. I became the lead investigator in a lawsuit against Olen Allred (ph) and Lemoyne Jensen (ph) the current prophet when they were involved in the theft of $1.5 million from a lady named Virginia Hill. I talk about it in my third book which is "Polygamy Under Attack."
KING: When we come back we're going to meet three other people and then bring all of our guests back in a major discussion.
We spoke with the attorney for Warren Jeffs, the religious leader of the Colorado City fundamentalist group. The attorney's name is Rob Parker and while he declined to come on our show he did say that while Colorado City and Hilldale are essentially closed communities, people are not prevented from leaving.
Attorney Parker went on to say that past characterizations of our guests Carolyn and Flora Jessop are gross distortions of what goes on there. And, as far as the age at which people marry or join the workforce, he described the community as a culture without the same norm as the general population.
When we come back three more and then I guess you'd call it a debate, a major discussion on all of this. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And according to polygamist doctrine a man must have at least three wives if he is to make it into the highest realm of heaven, the celestial kingdom and for a woman the one and only way to get to heaven's highest realm to be the obedient wife of a righteous polygamist man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINONES: You would want to be in a marriage where there would be other wives, sister wives?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they're your sisters. You work together. You genuinely care about each other.
QUINONES (voice-over): But with so many women and only one man we had to ask doesn't one sister wife ever get jealous of another?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jealousy doesn't matter when it comes to a situation where he has committed to that woman also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That segment is from John Quinones' specials on this.
Joining us now all in Salt Lake City, Utah are Mary, she does not want to give her full name, currently in a plural marriage, also a member of the Apostolic United Brethren, also known as the Allred Group. This is her first time going public.
And then Anne Wilde is the co-founder and community relations director of Principle Voices, co-author of "Voices in Harmony, Contemporary Women Celebrate Plural Marriage."
And, Mary Batchelor entered a polygamist relationship about 16 years ago, has seven children, ranging in age from one to 15, executive director of Principle Voices and co-author of "Voices in Harmony."
Mary, why do you like this lifestyle?
MARY, NOW IN PLURAL MARRIAGE: Well, when I was a young girl I was about 17, I had questions that couldn't be answered. I studied. I prayed. I searched. And I read on my own and I decided that this is what I felt I wanted to do. It was my own decision.
There was no -- I was raised in the LDS Church which I still very much love and I decided this is where I was supposed to be. And so, I joined the AUB group and I'm glad I did. It's a decision I've always been grateful that I'm here.
KING: And Mary, do you live in Salt Lake in a regular community or are you in a community of just people who are polygamists?
MARY: No, we live in a subdivision with a few people that believe like us and other people that don't believe like us. We just, you know, live in a regular neighborhood.
KING: Anne Wilde, what attracted you to this lifestyle?
ANNE WILDE, PRINCIPLE VOICES: It was a little bit similar to Mary's. I was married once in monogamy for nine years and during that time we did a lot of studying. We noticed that there had been a lot of changes made in the accepted doctrines of the LDS Church and so I decided well if it was true once it would probably be -- should be true eternally.
And so I obtained my own testimony that plural marriage was true that it was a principle that I was to live and I was married as a second wife for about 33 years was very happy in it and I have never regretted that decision.
KING: Not jealous of the other wife?
WILDE: I had that jealousy feeling for one day and I guess it was so that I could experience what it was really like but I feel very fortunate that I did not have strong jealousy feelings, no.
KING: Mary Batchelor what drew you to it?
MARY BATCHELOR, PRINCIPLE VOICES: Prayer and study, I was a teenager wanting to make the right choices for myself. I didn't want to get divorced. It was very important to me to make a good decision. I wanted to find a good man and I wanted to do the right thing for God. And I did a lot of studying into LDS Scripture and LDS doctrine and came to my own testimony and my own belief that this was right for me.
KING: Do you still consider yourself a Mormon even though they have ex-communicated you have they not?
BATCHELOR: No, I'm not ex-communicated. I actually left the church of my own free will...
BATCHELOR: ...because I made this choice, so I took the step myself. But, yes, I consider myself Mormon as much as I consider myself Christian and I want to make it very clear that I'm not a part of any of the community that you've been discussing right now and I don't agree with the practices.
KING: What do you do that you don't agree with, what don't you do?
BATCHELOR: Well I don't agree with underage marriages. I don't agree with arranged marriages. Part of the work that we do with Principle Voices is that we actually help open doors to some of the communities and put them in touch with resources and with the state so that they can come to the table and represent themselves but also to open a dialogue. When we have a dialogue open people can clear up misconceptions and also be educated.
KING: Mary, are you at all harassed by neighbors who don't believe as you do? MARY: Oh, you know, over the years there's been a little bit but not too much. I think that if you love your neighbors, you know, they love you and I believe in, you know, being kind and love people.
One thing I would like to say is that my sister wife is my best friend and I'm very, very happy and I wouldn't choose any other way of life. This is what I want and neither would she and we're very close and a good friend.
KING: Anne Wilde do you have children?
WILDE: Yes, I do. I have three children from my first marriage and I wanted a big family but that wasn't our blessing. When I became part of a plural family my husband wrote several books, about 65 books on LDS Church history and doctrine and I assisted him with that so we kind of considered the 65 books our children.
KING: Did you ever think, Mary Batchelor, did you ever give thought to the fact that this may be men who are just having it pretty good?
BATCHELOR: Oh, absolutely. When I was a teenager praying about this it wasn't exactly something that I was looking to do that I wanted to do. I was scared about it. But when I received my own testimony and came to my own belief that this was right for me I was looking for a man that I felt had integrity and honor and who would keep his commitments to me and would be faithful.
So, yes, I think there are some men that do enter into polygamy for their own self interest and for whatever reasons that are not really religious but then there are those that are very sincere in this.
KING: We'll take a break and when we come back we'll gather all of our guests together, those who have lived under it and left it, those who like the idea. We'll also include your phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The woman who has her husband's sexual partners had breakfast with her the next morning. She knows where her husband has been. She knows the children that have come from this union. She loves those children. She loves that woman.
QUINONES: What if the sister wife is younger, prettier?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good for him.
QUINONES (voice-over): You can't help but wonder about intimacy, sex.
(on camera): It must take some amount of Viagra for this man to be able to...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a responsibility these men take. This is serious. This is not casual sex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, has been here since the 1930s. It broke away from the mainstream Mormon Church more than a century ago. The breakaway sect wanted to pursue polygamy, a practice renounced by mainstream Mormons for more than 100 years and outlawed in every state. The group considers its leader, Warren Jeffs, a prophet to be obeyed without question. Former members say Jeffs has several dozen wives. He selects multiple wives for other church elders, sometimes reassigning wives from one man to another, and imposes rigid rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Flora Jessop -- we've got everybody together now -- Flora Jessop, what do you make of what Anne and our two Marys had to say about the advantages of this?
F. JESSOP: I would love to see a happy polygamist family. One of the most least understood aspects of the polygamist culture is the brutality. Usually, the brutality is not from the man; it's from the women. The jealousies that the women feel end up being taken out on the other wives and the wives' children.
KING: Anne Wilde, how would you respond to that?
WILDE: Well, I would like to point out right at the beginning here that the group that they're talking about, the FLDS, is about a quarter of the population of people that call themselves fundamentalist Mormons. Like the beginning of the show, somebody commented that there were 37,000 polygamists. I don't think that's quite accurate. There might be approximately 37,000 people that consider themselves to be fundamentalist Mormons, meaning they believe in the fundamental doctrines of the church. But I doubt that there are even 50 percent of those that are actually living plural marriage.
KING: I see. John Quinones, how did you gather them all together like that?
QUINONES: They invited us. And this was not, I must point out, in Colorado City. This was in a little town outside of Colorado City, called Centennial Park. These women heard we were in town and they wanted to tell us what the lifestyle was like.
And I've got to say, they seemed very happy. They had 75 children that they were all caring for. They had these cafeterias for their dining room, if you can imagine. You know, dozens and dozens of refrigerators and stoves. They have their own baseball Little League teams. And the 17 women who were there told us that they know where their husbands have been the night before. They practice polygamy the way they want to, and they say that -- well, they don't even call it polygamy, of course; they call it plural marriages. And they say that they don't -- it works to their advantage. Oftentimes, a wife doesn't want to have to cook dinner for her husband, they pointed out. Someone else can do it. Someone else can vacuum. Someone else can do the laundry. They seemed very happy.
KING: Carolyn Jessop, have you seen the HBO show "Big Love"?
C. JESSOP: I actually have not seen that show. I've heard comments about it, but that's it.
KING: John Llewelyn, have you seen it?
LLEWELYN: Yes, I watched the first segment.
KING: Does it portray that lifestyle well?
LLEWELYN: Well, it does. They're somewhat of an anomaly, because the majority of the people that are involved in the organized polygamist groups, like the FLDS, the TLC, True and Living Church and the United Apostolic Brethren, and also the Kingston Group. But what I thought was accurate was the competition between the wives to be the first wife. In a large family like that, you're always going to have the major wife, the dominant wife, the favorite wife, and the secondary wives and the secondary children.
KING: Mary Batchelor, how would you respond to that?
BATCHELOR: I didn't think -- that's not applicable to everybody. I think that's true of some people. Obviously, there's going to be competition in some families that arises from insecurity and different things. Certainly, jealousy does exist. It existed in my family. But absolutely it's not always the case. I was not vying to be the first wife. I was very happy to be the second wife, but my belief was that there was no wife that was above another wife. I ruled my own home, thank you. And I'm very strong willed and very opinionated, and so was she.
KING: Flora, how do you react to the statement made by the attorney, given to us by the attorney for that man charged today, that nobody is kept prisoner in this place, people can come and go as they please.
F. JESSOP: That's a false statement. The boys are kicked out onto the street because they're competition. However, if a girl tries to flee, she's hunted by members of the community.
KING: So that statement is false.
F. JESSOP: Absolutely. It is false. I protect the women and children that are coming out of there, and I've had these guys show up at my house with guns trying to take women and children back.
KING: Mary, how did your children handle this? MARY: You know what, I want to say that any child that is being abused, it's wrong. In our group, we do not advocate or believe in child abuse. It's wrong. And if she's helping those that are getting out, I say that is wonderful. I think it would -- my children were very happy for me to be here tonight. My 17-year-old daughter is in the other room supporting me, and, you know, she's a happy girl. She's graduating from high school this year, and, you know, we have just happy people. We have happy kids. If you went to one of our dances, you'd see girls that were happy. They had no fear. They're happy people.
KING: Carolyn, is this a case of some people like it and some people don't?
C. JESSOP: I was born and raised in a polygamist community, and my experience is I did not see a happy polygamist family in the community that I lived in. There was always a lot of controversy.
However, in the FLDS or the polygamist community that I lived in, the women were required to share a home, and that does create a lot of -- I believe the word for it is rational aggression, which is very common when women are required to live on top of each other. And there's a lot of abuse that occurs from other women towards the children and towards each other. And it's not -- it's not a fun way to live.
KING: As we go to break, we'll include your phone calls. When we come back, here's a scene from HBO's very popular new show about polygamy, "Big Love."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, sweetheart. Ten more minutes on the meat loaf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were bad this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made sure no one was looking.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Daddy!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, buddy boy! Where is your mom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, hon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you are. Hello there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) dinner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tater salad.
(CROSSTALK) (END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'll tell you something else. I've defended Warren Jeffs all the way because if he loses this war, you lose too. If you can come into a man's home and take away his land because the way he worships and teaches in his church.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue is not religion, it's the plural marriages, it's polygamy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it ain't. That's bull (bleep).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We discovered this angry woman is Ruth Cook (ph), one of Lorine's (ph) 55 siblings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a right to worship any damn thing that I want and wear any damn clothes that I want and I'm sick of hearing how stupid and retarded we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's take a call, Crossett, Arkansas, hello.
CALLER: Yes, I verified...
CALLER: Yes, I verify...
KING: Crossett, are you there?
CALLER: Can you hear me?
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: I verify that some people on your panel have stated that it's not a forced marriage, that they have the ability to choose, and the gentleman that stated the scripture of doctrine and covenant 132, all of that scripture states about free agency and agency and the ability for one to choose for themselves. Why are these young women have to comply to an arranged marriage? Why can't they choose for themselves?
And my second question is would Mr. King please read the statement again from President Hinckley. I have been a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for 11 years now and it's very difficult to relay to my friends and family that we are not a part of this group, and we receive prejudices.
KING: Ma'am, are you saying that the group that wishes to practice polygamy can, because of free will, it's OK? CALLER: No, I'm saying the majority of those who do practice polygamy do not have that free agency to choose, that's arranged marriage.
KING: Oh, I see. Let me ask them. And I'll repeat that statement, by the way. Let me repeat the statement and then ask about that.
The statement we received for this program tonight from LDS President Gordon Hinckley, says in part, "I wish to state categorically that church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this church. Most of them have never been members. They're in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the civil law. They are subject to its penalties. The church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter."
President Hinckley also stated that, quote, "If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the church can impose."
What do you make, Anne Wilde, of what the caller said?
WILDE: Well, I really feel like there are a lot of people and certainly the ones that I'm acquainted with, that this is a free choice. We realize when we entered this principle that it is a law of the gospel, not necessarily a law of the church.
In 1852, it was voted on as a law of the church. In 1890, the church voted to discontinue it. But it did continue before and after that time as a law of the priesthood.
So when we choose freely to live this law, we realize that one of the sacrifices may be to be excommunicated from the church. But we feel it's important law of the gospel.
KING: Aren't you also -- not technically, aren't you also Mary Batchelor, aren't you illegal?
BATCHELOR: Well, I'm not currently practicing polygamy, so I'm not breaking any laws.
KING: But those that are?
BATCHELOR: Well I would clarify actually that the only way they are is under the bigamy statutes. There's a cohabitation clause in the bigamy statute that says that any married person who cohabits with another party is guilty of bigamy in the state of the Utah. That qualifies a lot of people as guilty under the bigamy statute who are not polygamists. And we feel we're unfairly targeted under that statute.
KING: Irvine, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I have two questions. The first is for John. Which of the three wives is he still married to? My other question is, in the Mormon religion, is it possible for a woman to have multiple husbands?
KING: John Llewelyn, want to take that first? Which one are you married to?
LLEWELYN: OK, I'm married to No. 2, my first plural wife. We're legally married right now. She's back in the LDS church. She's a temple worker. She's very happy and I'm happy for her. I'm not active in the LDS church, I've been ex-communicated. My position is that I don't want a middle man between me and God, not a pope or a prophet. I'll just handle my exultation on my own. But I have a lot of family and friends who are good Latter-Day Saints. It's a good organization.
KING: Mary, can women have multiple husbands?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh no, and I wouldn't want it that way.
KING: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well it's like the scripture that says you can't serve two masters. And it's not that that my husband is overbearing by any means. He's a wonderful man and he's good to me -- and but I certainly wouldn't want two husbands and I'm glad it's not that way.
KING: We'll take a break.
LLEWELYN: Can I interject something?
KING: Yes, quickly, go ahead.
LLEWELYN: OK, there is a form of polyandry that is practiced among the fundamentalists where a woman is taken from one family to another in the TLC and the all-red group and the other groups, some of these women are plucked from one husband and taken to another, some by their own requests. So there is -- they do have multiple husbands in a sense.
KING: I got you. We'll take a break and be back with more and meet some more guests as well.
KING: We are now going to meet an extraordinary part of this whole story, they're all in Salt Lake City. Johnny Jessop, Sam Icke and Carl Ream, part of a so-called "Lost Boys," a group of more than 400 teenagers who authorities in Utah and Arizona say have fled or been driven out of the polygamist enclaves off Hilldale, Utah and Colorado City over the last four years. More information can be found at www.thediversityfoundation.org.
KING: We'll start with Johnny Jessop. What happened to you, Johnny?
JOHNNY JESSOP, KICKED OUT OF CHURCH: Well when I was about 13- years-old and then I guess I kind of started to rebel against the church, and he kicked me out. I got a call from my brother is what happened. And he told me to come get my stuff or they're going to throw it out on the street.
KING: So you grew up in a polygamist atmosphere?
J. JESSOP: Yes, I did.
KING: How many mothers were in your house?
J. JESSOP: Well, until I was about 10-years-old and then I only had one in my house. My biological father had two wives. The other one was in another house located across town, but my mother was reassigned when I was 10-years-old and the last count I had for my stepfather was about 39.
KING: Thirty-nine wives?
J. JESSOP: Yes.
KING: And your natural mother reassigned.
J. JESSOP: Yes, she was.
KING: Sam Icke, why did you leave?
SAM ICKE, KICKED OUT OF CHURCH: Well, I got kicked out for trying to be free and being whoever I wanted to be.
KING: You expressed yourself how?
ICKE: Well, when I got kicked out, the reason why -- up until that time that I did get kicked out, I was doing things that were going against what I was taught, what they were teaching. Like I was watching movies, T.V., television, listening to music, and just doing what I wanted to do and having a good time.
ICKE: And where it really came to a head is when I just started talking to the girls, you know. And I got connected to them, and after a certain point I got kicked out.
KING: How many mothers -- how many wives were in your house?
ICKE: My dad only had one wife, but the way I look at it is my mother died when I was eight-years-old and my dad doesn't have any -- his legs were cut off from the knees up.
So in reality, he couldn't support any other wives. And as far as I could see, he didn't have anything that he could give to the religion, so that's the reason he didn't get any more wives.
KING: Where did you go when you were kicked out?
ICKE: I moved down to a little town called Hurricane, Utah. And there I lived through the worst years of my life. KING: And Carl, how did you get out? What happened to you?
CARL REAM, LEFT CHURCH: I left when I was 14.
KING: And what happened?
REAM: Me and just an older brother left to Idaho. When we got there, we stayed with an older brother who had got kicked out previously, and he's my guardian now, so I've been with him ever since.
KING: Why were you kicked out?
REAM: I ran away because the cops were restricting us so much. We couldn't do anything without them getting on our case, trying to give us tickets for ridiculous things. It could so bad I hardly could even leave my house in the mid-day and not get a ticket for one thing or another, whether it be religiously or them just twisting the law just to give me a ticket.
KING: What's life like for you now, Johnny?
J. JESSOP: Well, it's really good. I'm in high school, and Dr. Fischer is helping me out a lot. He's helped me come to realize there's a lot more things in life. And he's really helped me look forward to new opportunities, and that's what I'm doing right now. I'm just looking forward to graduating high school, spending four years in college and I'm having a great time.
KING: Sam, what are you doing?
ICKE: I'm currently attending college at Stevens Henager and I'm going for my CPA certification. So I've got some extremely large goals, and I'm really excited about my life now, and I feel like I can talk. I can talk without having...
KING: I bet you're going to make it.
ICKE: ... Well, I better.
KING: And Carl, what are you doing?
REAM: I'm currently attending high school. I'm in 11th grade. I'm doing well and I plan on doing four years of college and joining the military.
KING: Thank you so much, part of the so-called "Lost Boys." And again, our thanks to T.V. journalist Mike Watkiss for letting us use clips from him documentary on polygamy called "Colorado City and the Underground Railroad." We're going to go to break. Here's one more clip from that as we do go to break. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the victims certainly not limited to women and girls. These young men, some of the so-called lost boys, hundreds of young males driven out of Colorado City in recent years by Warren Jeffs and his followers, a move that critics say is designed to reduce the competition for the town's women and girls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we leave you, a couple of more things. John Quinones, we want to thank you very much. Where do you think this story goes?
QUINONES: Well, you know, people are moving out of Colorado City, some of the leadership. But they're setting up compounds in Texas, Mexico, Canada. The FLDS is not going away, it's expanding.
KING: Do you fear, Carolyn, it might grow more?
C. JESSOP: Yes, it is growing because of the population growth with having a lot of children. So the growth is expanding tremendously, and they are moving out of Colorado City. My ex- husband, Merrill Jessop is now running the compound down in El Dorado compound down in Texas and has his entire family in that compound now.
KING: Does that make you glad, Anne Wilde?
WILDE: That people are moving out and it's increasing?
WILDE: I feel really bad for this situation down there and I know there's a lot of problems. But I want people to realize that there's such a diversity that, you know, it kind of reminds me of the blind man's story trying to describe an elephant and each one feels a different part.
I think that's what's happened here tonight. Each one of us is describing a different part of plural marriage based on our own experience or based on experiences of others near to them.
But I want people to know there are thousands of people, at least, that are very happy, that are freely chosen as consenting adults and they do not have a lot of the problems that have been talked about tonight.
KING: All right, thank you all very much: Carolyn Jessop, John Quinones especially, Flora Jessop, John Llewelyn, Anne Wilde, Mary Batchelor, and Mary. And our earlier guests as well, we appreciate them all for being with us.
Tomorrow night, Kathie Lee Gifford will host this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." The subject will be child abuse and we also remind you that Barry Manilow will be our special guest, live in studio singing as well as talking and taking phone calls on Monday night -- Barry Manilow.
Right now we switch gears to New York City. John Roberts and Heidi Collins, boy they've become -- they're getting attached at the hip. They've been sitting in all week for "ANDERSON COOPER 360" and they take over again. Guys?
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