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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Polygamy: Real-Life Nightmare or Tight-Knit Family?
Aired April 9, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Tonight, polygamy's prisoners living a real life nightmare -- beatings, confinement and worst of all...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The wedding night was not very good.
QUESTION: It wasn't?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't know it until years later. I was reading in a magazine, it's what they call marital rape. I was raped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's what we know.
What else is happening in the secret world of polygamy?
Insiders with sensational accounts next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Before we meet some extraordinary panel members that will be with us throughout the hour, let's go to CNN's San Angelo, Texas, and Jenny Hope of KXAN-TV to get us up to date on the latest.
What's the latest -- Jenny?
JENNY HOPE, KXAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, today, they had a hearing, Larry, over the San Angelo Courthouse, where the church leaders, their lawyers were asking that -- originally they wanted to ask that DPS stop their search altogether. But now that federal investigators are at the ranch, they can't ask for that.
They did ask, though, for the judge to just stop altogether -- to take some of that material that they might have found inside the church -- any computers that might have client/attorney privilege and put that away in a seal, have the judge look at it first before they would have any kind of a trial. And she agreed to that.
KING: So we -- anything scheduled for tomorrow?
HOPE: Well, actually I just found out that DPS stopped their investigation. They're finished with it. So we're hoping tomorrow we're going to hear from the sheriff of Eldorado, as well as DPS investigators, about what they might have found out there.
We're also planning to go a little closer to the compound to see if we can get any video, see if any people are actually trickling back in, because while DPS was investigating, anybody that left -- men and women were allowed to leave the compound, but anybody that left was not allowed back in while DPS was still there. But they have finished up their investigation, although federal agents, I believe, are still on the ground there.
KING: Thanks, Jenny. An outstanding job.
In a little while, we'll check in with David Mattingly.
Let's meet our panel first.
Lori Allen -- she was raised in polygamist enclaves, first left when she was 16. She kept coming back on and off, even entering a polygamist marriage as a third wife, made the break at 32. And she's the maker of the documentary film, "Banking On Heaven: Polygamy in the Heartland of the American West."
In Boise, Montana is Pennie Peterson. Born into a polygamist family, ran away at age 14, escaped being forced into a marriage with a 48-year-old man she said had sexually abused her.
And in Salt Lake City, Dorothy Allred Sullivan. She was born and raised in a polygamist family, the 28th of 48 children. Her father, Mormon fundamentalist sect leader Rulon Allred, was assassinated in 1977. And she's the author of a remarkable memoir, "Daughter of the Saints: Growing Up in Polygamy."
Laurie, are you surprised what happened in Texas?
LAURIE ALLEN ESCAPED FROM POLYGAMY: Yes, I am, Larry. But I've been hoping that Texas would do something because, you know, this has been going on in Colorado or -- Arizona and Utah now for 70 years and very, very little has done -- has been done about it. And Texas is my favorite state in the union right now.
KING: Pennie, are you surprised at the enormity of it?
PENNIE PETERSON, ESCAPED FROM POLYGAMY: I am surprised at how big it's gotten. We, you know, we've only imagined this could happen in Arizona. So thank goodness Texas did it.
KING: Dorothy, do you think they were right in taking everyone out?
There are some who are saying they should have taken maybe the men out, but left the women and children in there, in a place they are accustomed to.
DOROTHY ALLRED SOLOMON, RAISED IN POLYGAMOUS FAMILY: Well, I'm certain that if had they left them, they would have disappeared, probably gone over the border into Mexico. They've already been indoctrinated to prepare for an eventuality like this. So I think it was probably the only way to keep track of people and to make sure that they didn't defect somewhere and do this all over again. KING: Lori, by the way, examined the FLDS move to Texas in her documentary "Banking On Heaven". She saw the possibility of a very grim scenario unfolding.
Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warren Jeffs has commanded his followers to send their children to the WFZ Ranch in Texas. The human wreckage is piling up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband actually lives in Texas now. He is in control of the Texas compound for Warren.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there has been rumors that he put an incinerator in the temple that is designed to burn a human body.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'm afraid of is another Jonestown or another Waco.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll explore a lot of this because Pennie and Dorothy and Lori are going to be with us throughout the program.
Right now, our own David Mattingly is on the scene in San Angelo, Texas with an update -- David?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, as if the allegations coming out of that compound weren't already disturbing enough, tonight we are hearing that an anonymous source -- not an anonymous source, but, rather, an informer to police here guided them with information to a place in the temple where men -- adult men would marry underage girls and then they would take their new brides to a bed inside the temple where they would consummate their marriage.
This is a very strange finding, part -- apparently part of a ritual that was going on there. Reading directly from this newly unsealed search warrant that the officers there observed the bed within the temple that had disturbed bed linens and a strand of hair that appears to be from a female head.
So, again, every day that we find new information, more disturbing information coming out about the practices that were going on there -- these practices that convinced Texas authorities to take out all 400 plus children from their homes and put them into protective custody -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, David.
Hang tough. We'll get back to you.
Laurie, in what religion is this kind of ritual written?
ALLEN: In what religion? KING: Yes.
ALLEN: Well, I'm not a...
KING: In other words, they're in the temple. They're practicing something. What?
ALLEN: None that I'm aware of. This -- these people have just gotten, Larry, they become more skilled every generation at how to rip-off the American taxpayers, how to abuse children. And it's just appalling what is going on in most of these polygamist cults -- the FLDS being one of the worst ones. But it's just all over the Southwest and it's an outrage what's happening to these children.
You know, first, they rape your mind, then they rape your body and then they say you're a consenting adult.
KING: Pennie, do they consider themselves Mormon?
PETERSON: They do. They do consider themselves the true Mormons -- not just Mormon, but the true Mormons. They feel like the Mormons...
KING: You mean by having polygamy they're the original Mormons?
PETERSON: Yes, correct. They think that the other Mormons -- the Mormon Church now, the LDS Church -- sold out to the government.
KING: Now do you believe the men involved in this, Pennie, totally believe that?
PETERSON: Yes, they do. You have to remember, they've been taught since they were born that they are the rulers and they have a God-given right to do what they're doing. Warren has added a little bit of how to go a little more twisted than what I was raised with, but he's been twisted for a long time, so it's expected, I guess.
KING: Dorothy, why don't the women just run away?
ALLRED: Please say that again.
KING: Why don't the women just run away?
ALLRED: Oh, they have no skills, no preparation at all for mainstreaming. Lots of them are not educated. They are terrified and told regularly that the people out there are wicked and they will abuse them. And so, you know, it's a case of rather the devil you know than the devil you don't.
What's it like to have that controversial compound in your town? We'll ask the mayor, when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Tomorrow night a major debate about the presidential primary coming in Pennsylvania. And among the guests will DeeDee Myers and Ari Fleischer and Paul Begala.
And Friday night, an exclusive with Drew Peterson. He's been named a suspect -- he's the former cop in Chicago -- in his, the case of his missing wife. Drew Peterson will be here for an hour taking your phone calls.
Let's go back to David Mattingly in San Angelo.
We understand there's a little more to that story -- David.
MATTINGLY: What we're finding out is that that 16-year-old girl whose call and allegations of sexual and physical abuse started this whole investigation here in Texas named a 49-year-old man named Dale Barlow as her husband and accused him of being her abuser.
That Dale Barlow, according to a search warrant, is in Arizona. He was serving time, last year was convicted last year of a sex crime with an underage girl. He is out on probation. He told his probation officer, reportedly, that he didn't even know this 16-year-old.
And there are some social workers, some people who are dealing with family members close to this girl who say that they believe Dale Barlow may not actually be the husband. It may be another Dale Barlow.
So a mystery that's still needing to be unraveled here. But this girl clearly naming this 49-year-old man as her abuser.
KING: Thanks, David.
David Mattingly in windy San Angelo.
Joining us now from San Angelo is Major John Nikolauk. He's the mayor of Eldorado. And in, as well, is Mike Watkiss, the reporter from WTVK who has done extensive reporting on polygamy, Warren Jeffs, the FLDS sects. He produced "Colorado City and the Underground Railroad".
Mike will be with us with our other panelists for the rest of the show.
Let's get up to date with the mayor.
What's happening in Eldorado, Mayor? How are you dealing with all this?
MAYOR JOHN NIKOLAUK, ELDORADO, TEXAS: Well, Larry, things are pretty quiet in Eldorado right now. All the folks that were given to us -- I think it went dead.
KING: No, I hear you.
Can you hear me OK? KING: Yes, I hear you fine.
NIKOLAUK: All the folks who we hosted for the weekend are now up here in San Angelo in better facilities than we could afford. And they're all doing fine as far as I know.
KING: What have you observed about them, Mayor?
NIKOLAUK: Say again, please.
KING: What have you observed about them?
NIKOLAUK: Well, they're just regular folk. We were in charge of taking care of all the women and children that initially were taken out of the compound over the weekend. And the kids are just ordinary kids. The women, of course, dressed a little different than we're accustomed to seeing on a daily basis. They wear floor length dresses and are very conservative.
When they first came in, they didn't communicate much. They kind of kept to themselves. And after a day or two, as were tending to their needs as far as bedding them down, feeding them and in general caring for them, they became a little more easier to approach.
KING: But you knew about this ranch didn't you, Mayor? I mean it was right there in your community. Did you deal with them at all? Did you know anything about what was going on?
NIKOLAUK: Yes, we knew pretty well. You know, when they first came here and bought the property, they said they were here to buy some property for an executive retreat for a major company. We soon found out that was not true and that's when we started disbelieving them.
We have done a lot of background checks on the organization, so we're pretty well read up on who they were. We knew that things were happening there that we would not approve of, but there wasn't much we could do legally, since it was private property.
Do you think the children are better off away from the ranch? Mayor, there are some who are saying maybe the children should have stayed.
NIKOLAUK: I don't know. My opinion on that is I think the women and children ought to have a say in how they're brought up and how they live. If they, in fact, were held prisoner out there and were denied access to the outside world, then I think that ought to be changed.
KING: Thank you, Mayor.
Mayor John Nikolauk from Eldorado, Texas.
Mike Watkiss is with us, the reporter for KTVK. Anything new to report, Mike, before we get into lots of other areas?
MIKE WATKISS, REPORTER, KTVK-TV, PHOENIX: Well, surprisingly fireworks free here at the Tom Green Courthouse. We were expecting this hearing today to have a lot of fireworks -- Warren Jeffs and FLDS lawyers coming in raising all kinds of objections about what's going on here, saying -- claiming religious persecution.
But it was really quite tranquil, very convivial among the lawyers. They argued a few things about the records and the computers that are coming out of the compound. There are concerns that in those documents there might be lawyer/client privilege elements. And so they appointed a special master to look after that, to make sure that nobody's rights are violated. But that's about all that came out today, Larry.
KING: I have an e-mail, Mike from Paula in New York City: "Where did the money for this compound come from? What's the source of financial support for the FLDS?"
WATKISS: Well, don't assume that just because they wear the long dresses and seem a little backwards in some ways that they're not very savvy businessmen and women. They have made a fortune. Warren Jeffs controlled a $100 million trust fund until the State of Utah took it away from him some time ago because of malfeasance. It had been sued and he didn't even show up in court to defend himself. So the State of Utah took this massive $100 million trust fund away from him.
But he continues to enjoy the support and the financial benefit from his followers. They basically continue to send their daughters and their dollars down here to Texas. He may be in jail, but he has people working. There are work crews that I know of that are building homes and the men aren't even getting their paychecks. They're turning it over to Warren Jeffs. Their families may be going hungry, but they also tithe like the mainstream Mormon Church. So he has a nonstop flow of finances coming toward him.
KING: Oh, wow!
Laurie, Pennie, Dorothy, Mike, we'll be back with all of them and the latest on this breaking story.
Stay with us.
KING: We're back.
I want to get the thoughts of the panel on this 16-year-old girl whose phone calls led to the raid on this compound in West Texas, identifying police suspect Dale Evans Barlow as, she says, the man who beat strangled and sexually assaulted her in a spiritual marriage, according to a court document unsealed on Wednesday that took place in the temple.
Laurie Allen, what do you make of that?
ALLEN: I think it's happening all the time, Larry. It's just outrageous. I think this is very common, especially in this polygamist sect. And I think that if they need to go into Colorado City, because we've got 400 children coming out of the YFC Ranch, but we've still got probably thousands of them in the twin cities of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah.
And I'd just like to quickly -- that question you asked Mike. The American people need to know that $25 million to $30 million is going in to support all of these polygamist wives that are not legally married and all their children. And a lot of that money that Mike is talking about that those men are making, they're not reporting their income. It's going directly to the prophet. And they're not paying income tax, Social Security tax. This whole operation is one big scam and the American people are paying for it.
KING: Laurie, by the way, is the maker of that documentary film -- we didn't show it to you. It's "Banking On Heaven: Polygamy in the Heartland of the American West." There you see its cover.
Pennie, what do you make of this story of the 16-year-old and the forced marriage in the temple?
PETERSON: Well, I believe it. They, you know, they were forcing me to marry a man when I was 14-years-old and he was 48.
The thing -- I wanted to address your question on should they've taken the women and the children out and I say absolutely they should. These women that Texas have are not on the government side. They are not friends with the state. And they're doing what they've been taught to do and what they've always done, and that is take care of their children and ensure that they will be back into the fold.
So if anybody -- these women are -- these same women are also the same women that give away 13-year-old girls. So we all need to keep that in mind, that they've been brainwashed their whole life to be abusers.
KING: Good point.
And, Dorothy, what do you make of this 16-year-old girl and this Dale Evans Barlow?
ALLRED: I will bet she is just in shock about the power of telling the truth. And as she watches her whole community in upheaval, she's probably going through a mixed of awe and guilt. And my concern is for her psyche, that she will be able to stand up and be proud of what she's done, rather than feeling like she's broken up the family.
KING: Well said.
Mike Watkiss, what do you think?
WATKISS: Well, I just hope that the girl is safe from the bottom of my heart. That's my biggest concern being down here in Texas. I want this little girl to be found and to be protected. And, you know, an interesting sort of irony to this story, what -- it was a 16-year- old girl that triggered this here in Texas.
WATKISS: It was also a 16-year-old girl up in Arizona who really forced Warren Jeffs to move down here, Pennie Petersen's younger sister. And Pennie Petersen is one of the great women of this revolution. She stepped forward at great risk to herself. She got one of her little sisters out of the -- a beautiful young woman named Ruth Stubbs, married at 16 to a polygamist cop husband. Pennie helped her escape with her three children when she was 19.
We told that story and it sort of prompted Utah investigators and Mike Shurtleff, the attorney general up in Utah, to file charges against this polygamist man Rod Holm.
It was precisely at the time that Rod Holm was thrown in jail that Warren Jeffs saw the writing on the wall and started to buy up these compounds.
So, in many ways, it's Pennie Petersen and Ruth Stubbs, her younger sister, who drove Warren, cowardly, to run down here for safety and his own protection. But you're really looking at one of the mothers of this revolution with Pennie Petersen. She's an extraordinary woman.
KING: Laurie Allen, did this, I guess plain and simple, isn't this rape?
ALLEN: I think it is. First, they from child -- from birth, Larry, they rape their minds. Then when they rape their bodies as early as they possibly can. And, as you can see, Larry, that they even dress them like little girls. I mean these polygamists in this cult are child -- are pedophiles. And they still have their women in those goofy dresses. I mean it's just outrageous what's going on.
KING: What, Pennie, is the defense that the girl has against this?
PETERSON: What defense does she have?
KING: Yes, what?
PETERSON: She has none. If you say no or if you disagree, well, either you'll be -- you can get whipped by your parents or you'll be disowned. It depends on what age you are. At 13, 14, how do you say no?
And they're smart. They do this smart. They marry at 13 and 14. By the time you're 25 and have any brains, which is what it takes most of us to get anywhere, you're saddled up with five or six kids.
Where are you going to go? What are you going to do with six kids? And usually they'll take your kids away, and are you going to leave your children? Of course you're not. You're going to stay and take the abuse. So they've -- this is calculated, the way that they marry them off so young. And it is rape, absolutely rape.
KING: And you mean when you're 14, your parents forced you into that marriage, Dorothy?
ALLRED: That didn't happen in the group that I grew up in. My father was a believer in free agency. And even though he was disappointed that I married monogamously and that I was at the grand old age of 18 when I married, he supported me. He did not withhold his love. He allowed me to stay in his home while my husband was in Vietnam. And so I count myself very lucky and blessed for having a father like that.
KING: More on this breaking news when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you get out of line, it's not unheard of to smack you around or -- the kids or the women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever I was hit, I honestly thought it was something that I was bad. So when the women are abused here, it's really interesting. Instead of going and turning in the abused, we take it within and say that I'm bad, God hates me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back.
Laurie, Pennie and Dorothy remain with us. Mike Watkiss will be back with us later.
We're joined by Pat Merkley. Pat is a licensed clinical social worker, founder of a support group for women of plural marriages.
Before we get into what you do, Pat, what do you make of the breaking story we've been following about the 16-year-old girl forced into a marriage in a temple with a man much older than her? What do you make of that?
PAT MERKLEY, SOCIAL WORKER: It's a pretty outrageous story and I think if it is true that the man needs to be held accountable for what --
KING: Rape, I guess.
MERKLEY: -- for rape, yes.
KING: What's the number one problem you face when you deal with women of plural marriages?
MERKLEY: Well, the first -- the first thing is that I have learned that those in polygamy have varied stories. Sometimes we like to think that one person's story is everyone's story, but I have found through the six years of running the group that that is not the case, that every woman's story, just like every woman in every religion, has a different story.
Every woman's story is different. So when we try to generalize that one person's experience is everyone's experience, then we're being biassed and prejudiced. And So I've learned that that is something -- I can't carry that kind of bias with me when I work with the women.
KING: Are many happy?
MERKLEY: Many are happy. My experience is that many are happy. They have -- they have family lives that -- they call them big, beautiful families. They love having these families. They, of course, have unique challenges with sister wives and with many children, but many times it's quite typical the women's stories in other women's faith.
KING: Laurie, would you counter that?
ALLEN: I think ignorance is bliss, Larry. And I think that, yes, we try to find happiness no matter how miserable we are, and we put on a good face when we go to counseling. I don't want the American public to be fooled. Polygamy is inherently abusive because if a man takes ten wives, birth rates between men and women are 50/50 -- so if a man takes ten wives, nine boys have to be thrown out of the community. That's why we have the lost boys.
This whole thing is just one big old rat's nest that needs to be cleaned up. It's a cesspool.
KING: By the way, in 1953 authorities raided a Mormon fundamentalist community in Arizona. We get a brief look at that action and its impact from our own Gary Tuchman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Her name is Susie. She was six-years-old in 1953 when her world changed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was literally ripped from the arms of my father and my family.
TUCHMAN: Ripped from her family in a raid conducted by Arizona law enforcement over a half century ago. Susie's father was one of more than 100 husbands and wives arrested in an effort to eliminate polygamy from the state. It happened in the town of Colorado City, which was then known as Short Creek.
Little known to many Americans, that raid still affects the lives of polygamist families. Dozens of women and more than 260 children were placed in state custody. Most of the polygamists stayed in jail a short time but had to promise never to see their families again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We have an e-mail from Phil in Jackson, Tennessee: "What kind of pre-natal care is given to pregnant women and girls in FLDS? Who delivers the children? What about obstectrical problems, Pat?"
KING: How would you respond to that?
MERKLEY: I'm not familiar with some of the questions you're asking. I only -- I only know my own experience, which is that I worked with women in domestic violence shelters for awhile and --
KING: None of them were pregnant?
MERKLEY: Yes, they were pregnant.
KING: So the question deals with dealing how do they deal with their pregnancy?
MERKLEY: Just the women that I knew, of course -- in the domestic violence shelters there were problems in their relationships. They were the most severe cases. But, Larry, I have to say that is not the typical experience that I've had with these polygamist groups in Salt Lake. Whatever is happening in Texas, whatever happened in Colorado City, we can't generalize that every single polygamist family is having that same experience.
KING: Dorothy, is she right? You're in Salt Lake?
SOLOMON: My father delivered a lot of the babies. He was a doctor, and he delivered babies for all the fundamentalists. He also helped to train the midwives who now deliver babies, and they're as well trained as lay midwives can be.
Unfortunately, because of the mistrust that they bear toward all established institutions, if a mother gets in trouble giving birth, sometimes they delay too long getting the right kind of medical care and the mother and the baby suffer. And too often that has happened.
As far as pre-natal care, there isn't the kind of pre-natal care we're used to in mainstream culture. Women don't always take vitamins. They don't always get what they need. Often they're eating almost malnourished diets anyway, giving the best of everything to their children, which is the way they live. And so, yes, they're in great need of better pre-natal care.
KING: I got to get a break. Thank you, Pat. Valerie X says there's a positive side to polygamy and she's living it. We'll hear from her when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't really have a relationship with my dad at all. He asked me my name every time I met him, crossed paths with him. If he didn't see me in the house, he would have no idea that I was even his child. He would -- he once confused me with one of the grandchildren and told me to go home in my front yard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Laurie, Pennie and Dorothy, and we welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE Valerie. We're not using her last name to protect her privacy. She's one of three wives in a plural marriage.
Valerie, what's your read on this story we've been breaking news with the last 45 minutes, about this 16-year-old and the man and the temple and the sexual relation and the marriage and the like? What do you make of it?
VALERIE X, POLYGAMIST: Well, the whole thing makes me very emotional. If this kind of abuse is going on then certainly I would like to see, you know, justice served. However, I don't know that because of this one instance, and I'm sure there are more or there possibly are more, that it really is with all of the 400 plus children. I think if you went anywhere and found 400 children that you would find abuse to some degree.
KING: OK, what do you like about polygamy?
VALERIE X: Well, there are many things I like. I like -- I really like the camaraderie between myself and the other wives. We have a really good relationship where we can do things together. We go shopping or we can cook together, just different things and we have a support group, if you will, to help, you know, raise our children and through the teenage years, and just different things. And I enjoy the close relationship that we all share as the parents of these children.
KING: Do you have jealousy when your husband sleeps with any of the other two women?
VALERIE X: Well, I wouldn't say that it's only when he sleeps with them. I think that -- I wouldn't be human if I didn't get jealous and there are many instances where I may have a jealous feeling and, yes, that happens. But we deal with those things as they come. I think that happens in a lot of marriages.
KING: Are you a mother to all the children?
VALERIE X: I feel that I am. I have eight children of my own but I feel like I help care for all the rest of the children as if they were my own.
KING: Laurie was shaking her head. Isn't it possible that Valerie could be happy?
ALLEN: Are you asking me?
ALLEN: Oh, I do believe it is possible, Larry. I think that the argument of, you know, these women are my close friends and, you know, it's like -- I don't want friends that are sleeping with my husband. I mean, this is the mentality and it's really sad. You know, America needs to really take a serious look at this. And, you know, it's like getting a baby-sitter. If you need a baby-sitter, hire one. We don't need to have --
KING: No, but the question is, can Valerie be happy?
ALLEN: I think ignorance is bliss. I really do. I think you can be happy to some extent in any situation. Even in prison there's happiness. But do I think polygamy creates happiness and creates joy and creates a good positive family dynamic? Absolutely not.
KING: Valerie, why is it better than monogamy? You could have monogamy because you're very attractive. I'm sure you could have been with many men and had children. Why is it more attractive to you?
VALERIE X: That's exactly the point. I'm a 38-year-old woman who chooses to live this way and I should be able to if I want to. That is whether I'm happy or not. This lifestyle has been going on for centuries. It didn't just start up recently with the Mormon church. And there are challenges. I think there are challenges in and struggles in any marriage relationship.
KING: But you prefer it, right?
VALERIE X: I certainly prefer it.
PETERSEN: Can I ask her a question?
PETERSEN: Valerie, were you raised in this from birth your whole life? Were you raised in polygamy?
VALERIE X: Yes, I was but we were all -- we all went to public school and had experience with so-called the outside world and were able to have associations with all kinds of people.
PETERSEN: But were you also taught --
KING: Let me get a break and we'll stay right with Valerie, Laurie, Pennie and Dorothy.
Is Valerie raising her children to do the same thing as she does? We'll ask.
And what should be the legal age for marriage?
You can vote now at CNN.com/larryking. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Back to our panel. Valerie, would you want your children to be raised in the same polygamist atmosphere?
VALERIE X: What I want for my children is for them to feel free to follow their own path and I certainly encourage them to do that. My concern with what is happening now is I have my grandfather that was put in prison for his practice of polygamy, and I have family members who are actually children at the time of the raid in 1953. And those stories have been handed down and passed down. So it's no wonder that there is a fear of the government and what they can do to our people.
And so I certainly don't want them to live under that kind of strain. I want them to be able to be free to choose it if they choose it and free to decline if that's how they choose to live their life. I certainly would still accept them and love them and keep the relationship.
KING: If they wanted to leave wherever you live and go to Chicago and go to school, that's fine?
VALERIE X: I would want them to, yes.
KING: How do you view the current Mormon church, which is the established Mormon church? I mean, you call yourself Mormon because you practice the original Mormon concept of polygamy, which was banned in I think 1890. How do you view the current huge Mormon church?
VALERIE X: Well, and, yes, I would like to qualify that statement that I consider myself to follow along with Mormon belief and doctrine, but that I am not a member of the LDS Church. I think the church is a wonderful organization and they do many great things. They've helped in many disaster relief and I think there's just good people there.
KING: Dorothy, what do you think of Valerie? Or what -- how Valerie lives.
SOLOMON: Well, I grew up in a relatively happy family. If it hadn't have been for the raids that terrorized us when I was a child, I think we would have had even more happiness, so I can appreciate what she's saying. I also know that happiness is relative, and once you've tasted freedom, you must have freedom in order to expand your happiness.
And I also suspect that love isn't really love unless freedom is present. So I respect her for following her convictions and I'm grateful that my parents followed theirs or I wouldn't be here. But --
KING: Mike Watkiss will be coming back with us in the last segment. Mike, what do you think of Valerie, obviously intelligent and open.
WATKISS: I'm sure she is and I'm sure everything she's saying is true. It's wonderful. I'm happy she's happy and I'm sure it's a happy, healthy family. I think it has nothing to do with what's happening here in Texas.
Hers is an interesting lifestyle story that we're all sort of interested; how do these women share a husband. She has said multiple times she had choices. She had contact with the outside world. And having covered this as long as I have, and Pennie knows the story very well, the women and children in this community do not have the same benefits that Valerie has enjoyed.
A lot of defense leagues stepping forward to defend polygamy. I know every cop and every prosecutor who is now stepping forward and doing something about this and to a person, none of them care about polygamy when it's consenting adults, men and women, women who have had education and choices, like Valerie clearly has had, to make these choices.
The little 16-year-old girl here in Texas who triggered this entire thing didn't have any of that. And Ruth Stubbs, Pennie's little sister, didn't have any of that. So I think -- it's an interesting story. It has nothing to do. It has no bearing on what's going on in Arizona and Utah and certainly nothing that's going on in Texas.
KING: Valerie, thanks for joining us.
We'll come back with Mike and Laurie and Pennie and Dorothy. It's been quite a show. More to come. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back.
Information from the Mojave County Probation Department in Arizona indicates that Dale Barlow is on probation and registered as a sex offender there. He is not authorized to leave the state of Arizona.
If he has traveled to Texas, he has violated terms of that probation. And we're told there will be a press conference at 11:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning outside of the San Antonio courthouse. The press conference is being held by the Newbridge Family Shelter and the National Domestic Violence hotline, discussing their efforts in the past week relative to the polygamist raid.
We have an e-mail question for our panel from Cindy in Spring Hill, Tennessee: "According to an affidavit in this case, the 16-year- old girl we've been talking about who called authorities was taken to the ranch by her family when she was 13. Is it common practice for FLDS parents to commit their daughters to this kind of environment around puberty?"
Is it, Laurie Allen?
ALLEN: Yes, Larry, it is. In fact, grown women will be in the house when they know that their husbands are upstairs or in another room raping an underage girl and those same women will stand in that same house while their young sons are thrown out of the community because they're competition for the older pedophile leaders.
You know, the last time I checked, polygamy was illegal. Welfare fraud was illegal. Rape was illegal. Child molestation was illegal. The American people need to decide what they're going to do about this.
KING: How, Pennie, could a parent do that?
PETERSEN: Because that parent was taught their whole life to follow this -- these rules, to bring your daughter up because they were given away at that age. Their parents handed them over to a man at 13 and 14 and that's when they started having their children. My mom had 18 of us, no twins. I mean, you're taught to replenish the earth and that's what they do. So it just -- it's a whole --
I want to say one thing to the government. Thank god for the government in Texas. If not, how many more girls would be taken down to the chambers in the temple? I mean, abuse is abuse and we need to get off of this, oh, we had the raid in '53. I think the raid in '53 needed to happen and I think this raid needed to happen because it needs to end.
KING: Mike, isn't it hard to fathom?
WATKISS: What, the raid here in --
KING: The whole thing of parents downstairs and their daughters being raped upstairs.
WATKISS: Well, you know, this has been a lifestyle for a long time, Larry, and this is, in fact, the way these people are raised and this is what they believe and most of them are not bad people. They're led by very bad leaders, like Warren Jeffs, who has taken a bad situation in Colorado City.
In many ways Warren Jeffs is totally responsible for all of this. He was -- when he was assuming power from his father, there was communication with community leaders. It's a municipality. They had interaction with outside government. And it was made very clear to him, lay off the little girls, give them a chance to get an education.
Warren Jeffs, as Mark Chertleff (ph), up in Utah, so interestingly stated one time, he extended his middle finger. He refused to lay off the little girls and it ain't about polygamy. Perhaps Laurie is right. Maybe we need to outlaw polygamy. That's for greater minds than mine, but underpinning polygamy, as it's practiced in the FLDS church, are these sort of perverse pillars that hold it up, the forced marriages of underage girls and incest.
And the state rightfully has an issue, has a right to go after those because we value our children, and it's all about child abuse in this. And all of the prosecutors and all the cops who are doing anything don't care about polygamy.
They -- I've spoken to all of these people thousands of times and that's not their focus. It's protecting kids. Warren Jeffs and his people down there, I heard that statement about this likening Texas to Russia and Germany. You know, the concentration camp is there. The Gulag for little girls is there and Texas rightfully stepped up to the plate. They got a phone call. Statutorily they are obligated to investigate.
And because Warren got smart, he took them out of that public land where cops can get drive onto Colorado City and he brought them down here and brought them to private land, cops has no alternative to do what they do. It's a big blunt instrument the system, but, you know what, I think they had no other option.
KING: Thank you all very much, Mike Watkiss, Laurie Allen, Pennie Petersen, Dorothy Allred Solomon and our other guests as well.
By the way, don't forget tomorrow night, Dee Dee Myers, Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala and others looking at the Pennsylvania primary.
Check out our Web site, CNN.com/larryking. You can download our current podcast, participate in our Quick Vote or e-mail upcoming guests. Check it out, CNN.com/larryking.
Drew Peterson will be here Friday. He'll answer your emails and he will take calls. He's the former police officer, the suspect in the disappearance of his wife.
Now it's time for Campbell Brown, in for Anderson tonight, and another edition of "AC 360" -- Campbell.
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