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CNN Larry King Live
Preliminary Hearing for Polygamist Warren Jeffs
Aired November 21, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TED ROWLANDS, GUEST HOST: Tonight, Warren Jeffs the polygamist, captured after an FBI manhunt, in court for a preliminary hearing facing a tearful former child bride. She says he forced her to marry an older man against her will as her godly duty. Jeffs says he's being persecuted for his beliefs.
Now, hear from other women who risked it all to flee his arranged marriages, next on "LARRY KING LIVE."
Hello, everybody. I'm Ted Rowlands, in for Larry King tonight.
Unbelievable testimony today in the pretrial hearing of Utah polygamist Warren Jeffs. On the stand, a young woman who says she was 14 when Jeffs forced her to marry a 19-year-old first cousin. Spectators sat quietly as she detailed the events leading up to her marriage ceremony.
We'll get to our guest in a moment. But first, let's listen to a portion of the young woman's gut-wrenching testimony. We're doing to listen to a lot of it throughout this next hour.
In this first clip, she talks about realizing for the first time that she was being ordered to marry her first cousin.
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM: When I finally realized who they were going to have me marry, I was devastated. I immediately stood up and walked out of the room. I wanted -- I mean, it shocked me so much that I just couldn't handle it. I walked up to my mother's room. I told her, Mom, I know who I'm going to marry. And she says, really, who? And I told her you're going to have me marry Allen. And she said, no, they're not, He's your first cousin. They wouldn't do that.
(END AUDIO FEED)
ROWLANDS: Very emotional day in court today. Our panel -- two of the folks that we'll be talking through the hour were in court. We'll get their first-hand perspective.
Mike Watkiss is a reporter for the Phoenix station KTVK. He's reported extensively on Warren Jeffs and his FLDS Church and its polygamist practices.
Sarah Hammon was also in court for today's dramatic testimony. She was raised in a polygamist household with more than 70 children and some 19 sister-wives. Says her father, who was once a contender to become prophet in the church, sexually abused her. To avoid a forced marriage, she ran away from the community as a young teenager.
Fawn Broadbent said Warren Jeffs would not allow her to leave his FLDS group when she wanted to at the age of 16. So she escaped. She's now 19-year-old -- she's 19 years old.
And Laurie Allen, a former polygamist wife, who escaped from a polygamist sect at the age of 16. She is also a documentary filmmaker. "Banking on Heaven: Polygamy in the Heartland of the American West," is the title of her film.
Let's first go to Mike Watkiss, who is in St. George, Utah.
Mike, boy, what a day. It sounds like it was very, very dramatic. Fill us in. What happened?
MIKE WATKISS, REPORTER, KTVK: Well, you said it, Ted. Gut wrenching, heartbreaking, very dramatic day here in the St. George courtroom. This young woman has so much pressure on her shoulders.
A lot of people think that Warren Jeffs ought to really face charges of crimes against humanity for the many lives he would has affected, and many people would argue, ruined.
But it really all boils down to these few charges -- rape as an accomplice -- and this one star witness. We finally got to see her today. You can't show her face on television. But her testimony was indeed emotional, chronicling the events that led up to her marriage, at 14 years of age to a 19-year-old young man who is her first cousin. A guy she apparently did not like, who apparently bullied her throughout her young life when they were kids together.
She was placed into this marriage, allegedly by Warren Jeffs, and told to go home and to submit to your husband. This young man allegedly raped her, then, repeatedly. Those are the charges that Mr. Jeffs now faces.
ROWLANDS: Sarah Hammon was also in the court for the dramatic testimony today.
Sarah, how was it for you, given what you have been through, to see this young woman on the stand?
SARAH HAMMON, VICTIM: Ted, at one point I just teared up. It ripped my heart out to listen to what this young woman went through. And it just broke my heart.
ROWLANDS: Let's listen to another clip from today's testimony. This one -- in this clip the girl talks at how she went to Warren Jeffs and his father at one point and tried to keep this marriage from happening. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM: And I just said, I don't think that this is right for me because I just feel like that I need to have some time to grow up. And I said, and I -- I'm not willing to marry my cousin. He asked me if I was praying about it. I said, yes, I am. And everything is telling me not to do this. Every part of my soul and heart is telling me that that this isn't right for me.
(END AUDIO FEED)
ROWLANDS: Mike Watkiss, Warren Jeffs is not accused of raping this young woman. Let's clear it up -- just to make sure everybody's clear. He is accused of exactly what? What was his role in this?
WATKISS: Basically, they're alleging here in the state of Utah that Mr. Jeffs, being the only person in that culture, who can put together marriages, is the man who, in fact, put these two young people together, the 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin, and then told them to go home and basically have her submit to this man.
So Warren Jeffs is an accessory in the state's theory to this -- the raping of this young woman. Again, they allege that this young man then took her home and did just that, and raped her on multiple occasions.
And the thing that I think is important for people to understand is this is not an isolated charge. This is not an isolated claim that this young woman is making. We've been telling these stories for the better part of a decade in reference to Mr. Jeffs. She's one of many young women, who have gotten out of there -- run either after they've been married or before they get married -- tell very similar stories.
So a very powerful day of testimony from this young woman. But again, she's not the only person who has experienced what she's talking about.
ROWLANDS: Fawn Broadbent, you experienced, first hand, what was talked about to some degree. At what point did you decide I have to get out of here?
FAWN BROADBENT, VICTIM: I was at the age of 14 years old when my father came to me and told me he was going to have me put in the Joy Book to be married. And it freaked me out. I didn't want to be married. And he asked me, point blank, if I wanted to be a single life or a plural wife. And I told him I wanted to be a single wife. And he was -- he told me how disappointed he was in me, and the prophet would be in me. And it just freaked me out so I did everything I could not to get married.
ROWLANDS: How much power does Warren Jeffs have, or did he have, when you were there? You lived in Colorado City or Hilldale?
BROADBENT: I lived in Colorado City, Arizona. The power that he has -- if he tells someone to jump off a bridge, they will do it. That's how much power he did have, and still has, over the people down there. They're all he knows.
ROWLANDS: Lori Ellen, you also escaped, I guess, for lack of a better term. Tell us what you had to do to get out of the life you were in and, I guess, the only life that you knew?
LAURIE ALLEN, VICTIM: Well, I was -- I was kidnapped at the age of 8 and kept for eight years, basically as a child slave. And I never finished the fourth grade.
And you know, the sad thing is that this is happening to a lot of people. I mean, my case might have been extreme compared to some. And this young lady who testified today, her case is, you know, sad, as all get out. But the thing is it's happening all over the place. I mean, these people are doing this all the time. And for one person to step up is very courageous.
But, you know, the American people need to understand that this is not uncommon. It's like Mike says, this is going on all the time. And it needs to be cleaned up.
ROWLANDS: Well, then why has it taken so long for this case to have come to fruition? And why are we only talking about it now?
ALLEN: Well, I think that, if you look at polygamy in general, you've got it in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Texas, the state of our president. These are republican states, these are red states.
I think these people are being protected by corrupt politicians who don't want to do their job, aren't enforcing the law. They're giving these people free handouts. They're not even making these women give the names of their father of their children. They're all on the dole. And I think that it's just another big scandal.
I mean, here we've got the Yearning for Zion Ranch going up in Texas, and this is our president's state. He's talking about the axis of evil in the Middle East. Well, what about the evil that's going on right in America and nobody's doing anything about it?
ROWLANDS: All right. A dramatic day. We're going to have more about not only what happened in court today, but more about the FLDS Church, more on the spellbinding testimony from today.
As we go to break, let's listen to another exert from today's testimony, heartbreaking testimony, in the Utah courtroom.
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM: This entire time that I was there, I was crying and I just -- I honestly just wanted to die because I was so scared. Excuse me. Sorry. This is very hard for me to relate. It's not easy. It's very painful. This was the darkest time in my entire life, one of the most painful things I've ever been through. And I've always just tried to forget it and put it out of my mind.
(END AUDIO FEED)
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED) UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM: He told me how easy it was to molest people because they wait for opportunities. And they watch for moments. And they get used to people's habits. And they work around it pretty much.
UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM: And then you grow up also going to bed every night and laying awake for hours waiting to hear the footsteps coming down the hall.
That's a clip from "Banking on Heaven: Polygamy in the Heartland of the American West," Lorie Allen's documentary.
Mike Watkiss in the courtroom today. How far did this go, this testimony, in terms of really giving people an inside track? Unlike yourself, who has been covering this extensively? But for others, an inside look at this life that has been going on for literally 100 years.
WATKISS: Yes, I think it was a breathtaking example for people who have are sort of uninformed or ill educated on this.
This young woman sort of condensed it all, Ted. Talked about this -- this lifestyle, where she was basically pulled out of school, only got through the ninth grade, minimal education, no contact with the outside world, no meaningful alternatives ever presented to her at any point in her life. Her only role, from the moment of her birth, what she was told, was to be an obedient daughter of Zion and to be a mother of Zion, and produce offspring as soon as the prophets told her to take a man.
And so I think we got a real clear picture of what the life is like for the young women in that culture. Of course, there's a myriad of other issues. The young men who are basically used as slave labor until they're adolescence, and then tossed out of the community because you just can't have an equal split of men and women.
The grown men, who fall out of favor of Warren Jeffs and have their families taken away. But she really condensed it all.
America, if they're going to take a focus on this, they need to focus on real crimes, not on people's beliefs. I think that's right. And the bottom line is this is where the rubber meets the road. These are the victims of crime, young women, no alternatives, forced into these marriages and then, in essence, raped by their husbands.
ROWLANDS: Sarah, you said that you were brought to tears at one point listening to this testimony. How many girls went through, and are going through, what you went through and what this young woman who courageously testified today to -- how many girls would you say are out there? And is this really, as has been alluded to on the panel, something that has not only been happening for years, but is still occurring?
HAMMON: Yes. I would echo what mike and Laurie both said. That young woman today, she represents thousands of women, at least a couple of thousand women out there who are going through this right now -- today.
ROWLANDS: Mike, Jeffs was in court today. What was his reaction listening to all this?
WATKISS: Well, Mr. Jeffs is a very interesting character, just visually. He's a real tall, real thin man, very gaunt. Looked gaunter and paler after several months locked up in the county slammer here in Washington County. So -- but when the young woman got on, I was trying to keep on eye on Mr. Jeffs, and really saw what little blood was in his face sort of drain out, looked very drawn by the end of the day. It was powerful testimony.
But I know you want to talk about this eventually, Ted, but this is not a slam-dunk prosecution. He's got some great lawyers working for him. They view this as a religious persecution. And they're going to take this to the mat to fight it.
ROWLANDS: Well, let's talk about it right now. The defense is going to allege what? This is -- it seems like a fairly difficult case to prove. Warren Jeffs was a party, but was not the husband, was not -- it's not alleged that he had sex with this 14-year-old. He wasn't even the prophet, was he, at the time when this marriage was arranged?
WATKISS: He was certainly the de facto prophet. They've established fairly clearly that his father, who he inherited the power from, Rulon Jeffs, had suffer a stroke and was, in essence, sort of a figurehead at that point. Warren was calling the shots. I don't think anybody really debates that.
And I don't think his lawyers are going to go in and say that he didn't perform this marriage. I think everybody's agreeing to that.
But the real weaknesses of the state -- of the state's case are a couple of points. This young woman, before she came up on the radar screen to prosecutors or law enforcement, she went to a civil attorney, an attorney that was gathering up a bunch of civil suits and was going to sue Warren Jeffs. So they're going to paint her out to be a money grubber, out for bucks. She went to a civil attorney first.
There's also the issue that Mr. Jeffs is charged as an accomplice to this act. But they have not charged the husband, the alleged perpetrator of the rape. So you wonder why. It certainly adds fuel to the fire of the defense's claims that this is a persecution against strictly Mr. Jeffs. If it's such a big deal, why aren't they charging the husband? We haven't got a good answer from prosecutor on that. And they're going to play semantics game.
This is a community that, while all the little girls are taught that you're going to go and be married and have sex and have babies, they never talked about sex.
So when she went in and claimed, as said to Warren Jeffs, I don't want to be part of this and I don't want him touching me, apparently she said, you know -- she never came out and said I don't want to have intercourse with this man. And Warren Jeffs never said you have got to go have intercourse with him. He just said you got to submit, that's what god wants you to do.
I mean, out there, in the vernacular, everybody understood what that means. But the lawyers are smart. And they're going to make the case that, hey, Warren never ordered this guys to have sex with you. The state has an up-hill battle. This is not a slam dunk.
ROWLANDS: All right, we'll get more on the case. Coming up, Warren Jeffs' former attorney and the Utah attorney general will talk about this case.
As we go to another break, some more compelling testimony from the witness describing how her mother finally talked her into going ahead with the marriage. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM: My mother finally talked me into just doing what I was told to do. She told me that the prophet knew best and she -- she was very sad to see the events that were taking place. But she knew she had no power to change it. For me, I felt totally powerless. I felt trapped. And there was nothing I could do. I was scared. I mean, I didn't have anywhere to go.
(END AUDIO FEED)
ROWLANDS: Welcome back, everybody, to "LARRY KING LIVE." I'm Ted Rowlands, filling in for Larry tonight.
We're talking about the preliminary hearing of Warren Jeffs, very emotional testimony today in St. George, Utah.
Joining us now, is Rodney Parker, a former attorney for Warren Jeffs and for the FLDS Church. He is in Midvale, Utah.
Mr. Parker, thanks very much for joining us. Give us an indication, first of all, about what your role is with the church and with Warren Jeffs.
RODNEY PARKER, FORMER WARREN JEFF & FLDS CHURCH ATTORNEY: Well, I was the lawyer for the church, for about 15 years. I've represented Warren Jeffs personally. And I think I have a pretty good knowledge of what goes on in that community and the other side of this story.
ROWLANDS: Fill us in, help us out. Is Warren Jeffs getting a bad wrap here? Are the American people getting one of side of the story here with programs like this, in your opinion? And help us flesh this out, what goes on in these communities?
PARKER: Well, it is a little one-sided, but I think that what's important here is that this trial, or this preliminary hearing, is not about the arranging of this marriage. That actually is a crime in Utah. But that's not what Warren Jeffs has been charged with. He's been charged with the crime of rape, which has a lot more appeal to it. It has -- it gives the case a political dimension that it wouldn't have if the marriage of the woman was the crime that was charged.
ROWLANDS: Help us understand, you know, from an outsiders' point of view. It's disgusting to think about a 14-year-old girl, who doesn't want to get married to her first cousin, being forced to not only get married to this guy but, you know, have sex with him, in essence, if you're married to him. How -- give us an indication of where that's off base, why shouldn't someone from the outside looking at the facts be disgusted by it and not understand it?
PARKER: Well, I'm not here to defend what happened to the young girl. I think that --
ROWLANDS: Not only this girl, but other girls. Obviously, girls in this community are being married under the age of 18.
PARKER: Well, but the point --
ROWLANDS: Defend that.
PARKER: The point is that many people who were being married in this community who are participating in it voluntarily. I'm not here to defend underage marriages. And I'm not going to do that. I don't think it can be defended from a legal perspective.
ROWLANDS: Polygamy is not legal, but a lot of people believe that it is a victimless crime. If an adult wants to take part in that type of lifestyle, why should anybody care? Is that your view? Isn't there a difficult line to draw if you have young children? Is 18 old enough?
PARKER: Those are all lines that society has to draw and we have those lines drawn in the law in terms of the age of consent for a woman to marry. So I don't think that I'm the person to make that kind of a distinction.
But on the issue of polygamy, particularly among consenting adults, there are arguments to be made. We've made that argument in other cases. I think that there is a constitutional dimension to their conduct and their ability to enter into a consensual relationship where there's no question that it's consensual. That's not this case.
ROWLANDS: Indeed, now. Thanks, Rodney Parker, thanks for coming on. And we hope to talk to you again as this trial proceeds, as this preliminary hearing proceeds, if it goes to trial. Your insight is greatly appreciated because not a lot of people want to talk about it, who have your insight and your point of view. Thanks again for joining us, Rodney Parker.
PARKER: You're welcome.
ROWLANDS: Mark Shurtleff, is the attorney general for the state of Utah. He is in Salt Lake City tonight. Critics say that the authorities aren't doing enough to prevent more cases like Warren Jeffs related to the underage girls being forced into marriage. What do you say to that?
MARK SHURTLEFF, UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first of all, I want to say that people like Laurie and others, who have for many years -- and Mike included -- have been telling this story. Finally, the story is being seen now by the rest of the public. And I will say that we have done a significant amount.
I can't depend what the state of Utah, Arizona, did not do for 50 years. When I came into office and started to learn about these types of forced marriages and all the other crimes, the civil rights violations, and all the things going on within the FLDS sect -- primarily perpetrated by Warren Jeffs -- we got busy and took responsibility and accomplished a lot.
As you can see these are very, very tough cases. We have to have willing witnesses come forward. And it is so hard for them to testify against somebody who they were taught from the time they could speak that this man was God on earth, that he spoke for God. This is their leader that they're going against. This is everything they've ever believed. They're been taught that they're going to burn in hell and now they're apostate for saying anything against these people who are their leaders. So it's very, very hard.
This woman that you've profiled tonight, this Jane Doe -- thank you for playing her testimony. I think the world is going to see just -- what these girls were forced to go through and it's a tough case. It's an interesting case from a legal standpoint. We think this is one of the best cases we could put on and very compelling.
Warren Jeffs wasn't some benevolent religious leader just counseling marital relations. She was raped because he made it so, he ordered it to be so, and that's what we have to prove as prosecutors in the case.
ROWLANDS: Can you win this? And if you don't win it, how difficult will it be to bring another case?
SHURTLEFF: I think it will be very difficult. Right now, obviously, Jane Doe is -- she's a hero to us and she's a great example that you come forward and trust in those people that she was taught not to trust. I mean, they've been taught from day one that we in the law are evil that we're of the devil. She's come and testifying in front of this man, who was her prophet, she believed to be her prophet. And we really have to succeed on this, although it is a unique theory and we got a long way to go on it. But we are encouraged of her strength and the fact that she's going through with this.
I just want to add, Mr. Parker, just mentioned he doesn't defend or condone child bride marriages but, in fact, he is defending a man who we charge with felony sex with a 16-year-old when he was twice her age. And he's been convicted of that. And now, he's appealing that to the Supreme Court. When you say child marriages, we're not just talking 14, 15, 16- year-olds, we're bringing the cases where we can. And we don't believe they're protected by religious belief or First Amendment.
And, Ted, this has never been about religion -- as Mike pointed out -- it's about crimes being committed. Sadly, were allowed to be committed for some 50 years, but not anymore.
ROWLANDS: All right, Mark Shurtleff, you have a lot of work to go here. The preliminary hearing moves ahead in St. George, Utah. The attorney general for the state of Utah.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
We'll be back with more on the Warren Jeffs case.
As we go to break, listen to what today's witness had to say about pleading with her own family the night before her arranged wedding.
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM: The night before the wedding, I stayed up pretty much the entire night. And I just kept telling my sister and my mother that I couldn't do this, that I wasn't going to do this. And that God was -- I felt like that he was punishing me because I -- I just felt like I couldn't do it.
(END AUDIO FEED)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFS: What will the Lord do to an immoral people? They shall be destroyed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is part of a lecture Warren Jeffs gave to a group of young girls in a home economics class.
JEFFS: We like in such a wicked day... the people on this land of America are an adulterous generation. We do not want to be like them.
The Prophets have declared... I would rather have my sons or daughters in the grave... than commit sins of immorality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Hey, welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
I'm Ted Rowlands filling in for Larry tonight.
That is a clip from Mike Watkiss' documentary on Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Church. We're talking about the dramatic testimony today from a child bride in the FLDS Church, testifying against Warren Jeffs in a preliminary hearing.
Laurie Allen, you listen to the attorney general. If they do not win here, what are the ramifications, do you think, in your mind -- is this kind of a must win, if they want to go forward with, A, bringing more cases and, B, effectively stopping this?
ALLEN: I think if we don't win this case, I think it's going to be catastrophic because, you know, these polygamists have just been getting little slaps on the wrist now for decades. I mean, they molest girls, they rip off the taxpayers. You know, they just basically run amuck and do anything they want.
I mean, we need the military in these towns. We need police protection. We need to protect these children from their parents because some of these women are some of the worst perpetrators.
I'm telling you, we're spending $2 billion a day in Iraq, OK, and yet the attorney generals in both Utah and Arizona say there's no money to protect these American families, OK, who are in their seventh generation of systemic abuse.
OK, these people -- you know, let's talk about what this attorney was saying about, you know, consenting adults. These are not consenting adults, Ted. I don't care if they're 30, 40 years old. These people have been raised to believe one way and one way only. They've had little socialization. They've had little to no education. So they don't know anything else.
And if they don't know what they're told, they're going to burn in Hell. These are not consenting adults at any age, and these women are not protecting their children. I mean, pack animals protect their children. But these parents don't. They just do what they're told.
This is about corruption. This is about abuse. This is about every bad thing you can think of. And we need to stop it. And the Americans need to order my film, because most people don't know what's going on. I mean, I've shown my film to people in Salt Lake City, Mormon women in their 50s and 60s, and they don't even know what's going on and they live right in the state of Utah. So...
ROWLANDS: Sorry, Laurie.
Fawn Broadbent, you listened to Laurie talk there. Did your mother help you? Could you go to her and say, hey, this is wrong? Or to what extent are you on your own, if you're not participating in this and if you want out?
BROADBENT: If you don't agree with your parents, you don't talk to them. I had really bad trust issues with my parents, so I couldn't go to them with anything, because if I didn't agree with them, there's no way I would talk to them because you would be punished for talking to them, for questioning them. So there's no way any sensible person would go to somebody who is going to punish you for saying, you know, I don't -- there's something wrong with this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tim? ROWLANDS: How close do you think you were to getting married? You were 16.
BROADBENT: Well, I was put in the book at 14. And...
ROWLANDS: But what is that? What's the book at 14?
BROADBENT: The "Joy Book" is the book where the fathers take their daughters into Warren Jeffs or the Prophet at the time and says, my daughter's ready to be married. He writes the girl's name in the book and he finds her a husband. You don't know when you're going to get married. So, as soon as you know your name's in the book, it could be any minute, any day. And so you just have to be prepared.
And it freaked me out when he put me in when I was 14, and so I, you know, I tried to do little rebellious things to maybe slow it down so that I could have a chance to get away because that's all I knew.
ROWLANDS: Let's listen to another clip from today's dramatic testimony. The witness in this clip gives her version of the crucial moment when she was asked to say "I do".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WITNESS: The room was deadly silent. He kind of looked at me, Warren, and I just was hanging my head with shame, I guess you could say. But I just couldn't bring myself to say anything. They had my mother stand up next to me and she held my hand. And the silence became unbearable. And finally I just said, OK, I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Wow. Just listening to it, the audio is emotional.
Sara Hammon, what was it like in the courtroom?
HAMMON: It was very quiet. The witness was tearful through most of her testimony. She -- she was very, very good and I am so happy for her and so proud to see her come forward. She's doing an amazing thing. She is going to set an example for a lot of women.
ROWLANDS: All right. We're going to come back with more on polygamist Warren Jeffs and the court case as it moves forward.
As we go to break, here is another clip from the -- this is a clip from guest Laurie Allen's documentary called "Banking on Heaven".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the Mormon Church based in Utah abandoned polygamy in 1890, some men hid their plural wives across the state line in Arizona. In Colorado City, it takes three wives to get to heaven. But because there's a shortage of women, some men only get one wife. And some men get none. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: And welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE everybody. I'm Ted Rowlands filling in for Larry King.
We're talking about the preliminary hearing for Warren Jeffs that took place today. Some very dramatic testimony from a young woman who was forced to basically, that's the allegation, to marry her first cousin.
Mike Watkiss was in the courtroom. Mike, this is just a preliminary hearing. Just quickly tell us what happens here, where we go from here, and then what Jeffs potentially could face in this goes to trial and he's found guilty.
WATKISS: Well, he definitely faces enough penalty that he could spend the rest of his life in jail. He'll turn 51 in just a couple days from now. So he's a middle-aged man who faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
They were hoping to wrap this thing up today, Ted. They scheduled one day for the this preliminary hearing. Because of that emotional testimony and it went on for a long time, they've had to bump it back now, they are going to have a second day of the preliminary hearing in the middle of December, December 14th. So we're all going to reassemble.
And this has now got the eyes of the world on it, media and satellite trucks from all over parked around this courthouse in St. George, Utah. So the bottom line is, another day of preliminary hearing in December. And then if the judge deems fit, if it rises to the level, he'll order a trial. And with his lawyers, this aggressive group of lawyers that are defending him, it's going to be a real no holds barred kind of conflict in there.
They're saying that this is a religious persecution. Prosecutors are saying that's nonsense. He's being prosecuted for alleged crimes. You know, bring it on. That's what's going to happen in this courtroom.
ROWLANDS: A lot of preliminary hearings end up not having any defense, but you do expect a rigorous defense in this preliminary hearing?
WATKISS: They already started to question this young woman. And again, she's not just a witness. She is the witness in this case, the star witness, really the only witness.
The alleged victim in this, so she's got to hold up. And already the defense attorneys were starting to nail her on going to this private civil attorney to perhaps file a lawsuit for money prior to coming to law enforcement.
So they've got an uphill battle, prosecutors do, and these defense lawyers are top notch. Mr. -- I'd heard his lawyer talking, the previous lawyer interview, saying that, you know they never represented men who were charged of child abuse. That's nonsense. These guys are making a lot of money and a lot of these lawyers have made a lot of cash defending these guys over the years. And Mr. Jeffs is going to have the best defense that money can buy.
ROWLANDS: Laurie Allen, is there a sense, as pleased as you must be that this is moving forward, is there a sense of finally and what took so long from you?
ALLEN: Yes, there is, Ted. And it's, you know, the legislature is -- Mark Shurtleff, he's right. Things are starting to move a little bit.
But what we need right now is we need a lot of money. And one of the things I'm trying to do with this film is I want everybody in America to buy a copy because we've got the Hope Organization, that's childbrides.org. These people are scraping for pennies just to get a few pieces of furniture for some of these women leaving communities because supposedly there's no money in America to help these people.
So through the sales of my film, "Banking on Heaven," we can raise the money needed to set up long term transition programs. I mean, these people need help on every level. I mean, it's unimaginable, these people are just desperate and there's no help on the outside.
So we've got the legislatures now that are acting. We've got a great film here to educate the American people, to help raise money to get some programs set up. And I think we've got, you know, a positive outlook here, but we've got to get the American country behind this. Everybody in this country needs to get behind it.
ROWLANDS: Sara Hammon, it was brought up earlier on the program that with people that are of consenting age, that this is a lifestyle that they choose. To what extent do you have a choice if you're brought up in the FLDS church, you're a woman being told to marry, do you have a choice?
HAMMON: Not really. I was engaged when I was 14-years-old by choice. And my choice was to go and ask to be married to someone so that I would not have to sit and wait for someone to come and ask to marry me, someone who I didn't know, someone 40 years older than I was.
And that was a real -- that was a real threat. When my father died, I think the threat lessened a little bit, that I would have had more choice. But I watched three of my mothers oldest daughter be placed into marriages to men that they didn't know. And one had about two days' notice before the wedding.
ROWLANDS: Two days, you get ready, you're getting married in two days?
HAMMON: Right. It was one of my dad's friends, much older than her. ROWLANDS: Wow, amazing. We're going to hear more about the life inside the church and also get more on Warren Jeffs. Where does he get all of his money? He reportedly has millions. We'll find out about that.
Before we go to break, let's listen to another clip. This is the witness that testified today in dramatic fashion in that St. George courtroom, talking about after the wedding she went through what she described as a devastating sense of powerlessness. Listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): I just stood up, I walked out and walked into a hotel room that was close by. I walked into the bathroom. I just walked right in and I just locked the door and I sat in there for a while. And my mother tried to get me to come out. I felt completely defeated and trapped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He owns basically 100 percent of all businesses in town. They turn in their money to him and they turn in their daughters to him. And this is what makes you a better person in this community. And so it seems like that heaven's for sale and Warren's selling it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Mike Watkiss, where does Warren Jeffs get all his money?
WATKISS: Well, he's got a lot of it, Ted, $100 million perhaps. Owns all of the land out in Colorado City and Hilldale, Utah until a Utah court took it away from him.
And the bottom line, his followers and there are thousands of them, tied really to their own detriment to him, give all their money to him. There was a period of time where he was demanding at least $1,000 from every household every month.
So the guy has had constant flow of money. They've been out there for a long time. People talk about getting rid of this. You're not going to get rid of polygamy. It's really unrealistic, it's been around forever. But focusing on the crimes as they're doing in this courtroom is the right tactic. Make them accountable for when they violate the law.
But he has a stream of money coming in to him. Again, these lawyers are not coming cheap. This is an example. This guy is going to have the best defense that money can buy. He's always had that. Trotting lawyers into court to support -- to defend his followers when they get into trouble. There's just a lot of cash out there. People are very industrious, they're big builders. They are building subdivisions all over the American Southwest. That money is going into Warren Jeffs' pocket.
ROWLANDS: The paychecks are. Fawn Broadbent, you -- I've been to Colorado City, and it doesn't look like there's a lot of money there. Growing up, did the money from the house go to the church, and did you see that happening as a youngster?
BROADBENT: It did. I started working at the age of 14, and every one of my paychecks went to my father, which went to the prophet. And there's a lot of child labor down there, a lot of it.
ROWLANDS: What type of -- like construction stuff? Actually, when I was there, I saw a kid probably 12 years old driving a tractor around.
BROADBENT: Yes. It's construction. They go off onto job sites in Vegas and things like that, doing construction, doing cabinet work. Anything they can find that pays good money, they'll turn it into him.
ROWLANDS: Let's take a caller, too. Edmonton, Alberta. Hello. Edmonton, can you hear me? All right. Guess we lost that call.
Mike Watkiss, how has this been going on for so long? You talk about the money being taken from kids having jobs. It's in the corner of the state, but the state of Utah knew this was going on for the hundreds of years that it has been, about 100 years. How did this go on without what we're seeing today happen 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago?
WATKISS: Well, that's a darn good question, Ted. And those of us who have been following this story have been asking and pushing state official in both Utah and Arizona to do something for a real long time.
So this does seem to come late in the game, after the revelations.
The public in Utah and Arizona are sort of knowledgeable at this point. The larger nation is starting to understand this. But the bottom line is, we need a couple of hours to talk about the history. There have been raids. There have been attempts to break this up in the past. They have all been sort of disastrous failures, and state officials have sort of learned -- you know what, leave it alone. If they're out there, quiet, no nosy reporters like me go in there very often, you know what, leave them alone. It's just not worth taking on, the state of Utah and Arizona.
The cowardice on the part of officials is a long list. They just didn't want to tackle this problem, because it is such a thorny issue. And this has allowed the folks in Colorado City, which is the biggest and I think worst of these groups, to sort of metastasize. They've built themselves a community, and now not only do they live out there, they control every layer of government, from the cops to the water to the school district, until that was taken over. So they've really entrenched themselves. They're there. They're going to be there for a long time.
But again, the message needs to be sent by the American public, and I think my colleagues are right on this, that you can't violate children. And if you do, we're going to come after you.
ROWLANDS: And we are watching the state of Utah attempting to go after Warren Jeffs, with some very dramatic testimony in court today. We'll be back with some final words in a minute.
As we go to break, the courtroom witness in this clip describes what should have been the happiest night of her life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He didn't touch me or anything at that time. He just -- I didn't sleep. I had never had any kind of relations with a man, so I was terrified to even be in the same bedroom as a man, especially in pajamas. And so I think we both just kind of tossed and turned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Welcome back, everybody, to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Ted Rowlands, filling in for Larry tonight.
Laurie Allen, is it possible to have consenting adults participating in a polygamist arrangement and everybody is happy, and society should just let it go because it is indeed a victimless crime? I mean, you see HBO's "Big Love" depiction of it, and those people seem to be having an OK time. Maybe not for most people, but is that -- are there situations like that outside Colorado City and Hilldale, maybe in other places, that it is victimless?
ALLEN: You know, Ted, I've never seen a case -- and I've talked to people from every group out there -- and I've never heard or seen of a case where there was any kind of happiness in the relationship.
First of all, a man can only really love one woman, so the other women just automatically are subservient to the wife he loves. And it's just a big nest of malice and unnatural behavior, and, you know, jealousy and rivalry among children. A man can't father -- parent -- he can father that many children, but he can't really parent them.
You know, it's just a nasty thing. You know, every time a man has 10 wives, there's nine boys in the community that have to be thrown out, because the numbers just don't crunch, you know. Like I keep saying, you know, the biggest problem with polygamists is they don't know how to count.
And all I can really do is encourage the American people to call their senators, to buy my film, go to childbrides.org, donate money to the HOPE organization and let's get this cleaned up.
ROWLANDS: And we're seeing I guess the worst case scenario being played out in a Utah courtroom, with a 14-year-old talking about her experience as a child bride.
We'll take -- listen to one more clip. This is her talking about the honeymoon, and it's a road trip apparently. The first time her husband tried to touch her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me. This is very hard for me to relate. But Allan (ph) started to touch me. And -- in places that I was totally shocked. And he never -- at that point he never -- no, he didn't have intercourse with me, no. I was shy and I just said, please don't touch me. I mean, what are you doing? I didn't know what he was doing. I didn't know why he was touching me there. And I couldn't even stand to be within five feet of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Mike Watkiss, quickly, the prediction here from you -- do you think this will, A, go to trial? And B, do you think the state has a chance at a conviction given Jeff's resources in defending himself?
WATKISS: Well, I think it will go to trial. At the end of the day, the judge will turn this over for trial. Whether they'll get a conviction -- I really think the jury's out on that topic, Ted. I don't think it's a done deal. It's a tough case. They have tried a case very similar to this, with another polygamist, about 10 years ago, had some success with that case, but it ain't a done deal. It's a tough, uphill battle for prosecutors. They're gutsy for bringing it, and let me tell you, this young woman showed so much courage on the witness stand today. If she comes in and tells her story to a jury, you know, odds are good, but I don't think it's a done deal.
ROWLANDS: All right. We'll be watching. The preliminary hearing continues next month, and then if the judge decides, it will be held over for trial. Meanwhile, Warren Jeffs remains incarcerated until the end of this preliminary hearing.
That is it for this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. My thanks to the King for letting me sit in here for the hour. He'll be back tomorrow night. Right now, let's make our way to New York, where John Roberts is filling in for "ANDERSON COOPER 360." John, take it away.
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