Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mormon Polygamy on Trial : January 19 courtroom notes

Note: This is not an official transcript - I was typing as fast as I can - and there are undoubtedly many errors in spite of my best efforts to give a fair representation of the proceedings....

Professor Steve Kent: Witness called by STOP Polygamy in Canada

Professor of sociology: sociology is the study of social hierarchy in society. Class and so on.

Discipline overlaps with other disciplines. political science, psychology, etc.

Submitted as an expert witness - qualifications reviewed:

Adjunct professor in religious studies at u of a.

undergrad from university of maryland majoring in sociology. masters in history of religion, another religious studies degree from mcmaster. phd in religion and modern western society.

fellowships and awards from 1981 to present. Some are research grants and some are teaching awards. many course he teaches deal with comparative religions. taught a course in qualitative research methods. taught courses on religious sects which include fundamentalist mormonism.

teaches grad course which include materials on fundamentalist mormonism.

written several articles in peer reviewed journals. one specifically deals with fundamentalist mormon communities. conducted research into the history of fundamentalist mormon communities in north america.

“harms, human rights and harms of mormon polygamy” article written in 2009/2010.

consultations and testimonies: on 19 occasions in ireland, canada, united states, etc. given expert witnesses. taken and taught courses on qualitative research methodology. worked with a grad student, marla peters, who did research on bountiful. been collecting material on fundamentalist mormonism since 1978. started pulling information together on fundamentalist mormonism for a book on child abuse in alternative religions. research has been in the category of historical sociology. information taken from primary sources, archives,

has not done first hand interviews from people from fundamentalist mormon communities. Most people who have done interviews in these areas have an “in”. They have been mormons or have relatives in the mormon communities. If you are allowed into the groups, you have to be suspicious about why they have been allowed in for interviews.

Other groups, like the children of god, have been known to condition interview candidates so they will present the group in the best possible light.

Without an in - into the actual group, he is doubtful that he would be able to be useful. Therefore he felt it would be helpful to gather information on the group from what is already out there.

sociology of religion, including sociology of alternate religions flds polygamy as practiced in the flds communities, history of flds, including the harms in those communities, qualitative research methodologies.

No cross-examination

witness allowed as expert.

author of affidavit ex 55.

references to polygamous communities is understood to mean polygamous fundamentalist mormon communities.

most of the research methods are qualitative.

validity and reliability in qualitative research: occurs in part when researcher get complimentary and consistent information from a variety of sources. i.e. triangulation.

the more consistent information is from different sources, the more likely that the information is true.

general description of flds communities: flds under warren Jeff's est. up to 10000. colorado city,. bountiful. alred group - AUB - pinesdale montana about 1500. Kingston's, based in salt lake - about 1500 members. TLC under jim harmston in manti - members about 200 or 300. centennial park is a splinter of colorado city. tom green is small independent group. another group in utah that lives in caves.

detrimental impact of polygamy on people who live in these communities. what type of research have you done? what sources did you consult? where did information come from.

to do that, will rely on footnotes: tom Compton book (on the plural wives of joseph smith), fanny stenhouse book - from apostate in 1874. Ann eliza young - former bride of brigham young. 1915 article in an academic journal on incest on mormonism. detailed book on the alreds from 2007 which speaks about marriages which involve mothers and daughters. articles from salt lake tribune. combination of books, old historical books, media articles, etc.

conclusions on this section of the report - in a number of groups, there have been incestuous celestial marriages. mothers daughters, etc. marriages get re-arranged and people end up marrying cousins, uncles, etc. From supreme court of utah, there are step daughter marriages cited.

Genetic disorders and unmarked children graves: consulted works from former members - from flora jessop, materials from Phoenix new times (which broke the story on genetic disorders),

the major disorder is fumerocy disorder is especially high in the flds among the jessop and barlow branches of the families.

evidence on fumerocity disorder is fairly conclusive. also evidence of birth defects among the Kingston's. fumerocy is a deficiency that affects the crebs cycle and it does not allow brains to form. half the brain are water in some of these births.

in the Kingston's there are two vaginas or two penises or there are no sexual organs.

many of these groups do not register births or deaths and have their own graveyards. it is very difficult to get information.

janet bennion gives clues in her book - about child with retardation - only a little inkling but clue that something is going on.

missed a section.....

history of short creek, biographies of warren jeffs, theologic sources, and other sources.

dealing with lost boys: what research have you conducted?

used ... different media from new york times to salon. quoted from books from former members. all the books from young men that i was able to get ahold of. daphne branhams book. reports in la times. slc tribune. wall street journal. relied on alot of media accounts.

on working conditions: long article in a newspaper from around salt lake about kingston clans. kingston clan has major corporate involvement. many members work for this trashy little company. in canada - on the winston blackmore company - there are two reports which fine the black more company for unsafe working conditions. pattern seemed to be that the flds has lots of construction companies - boys are assigned to these work camps. sometimes boys misbehaving in the states would get sent to canada to work in winston’s lumber related companies.

some of these harms occur in societies that are not polygamous. why focus on the flds communities.

most of these harms are structurally based. everything i read and just base logic suggest that since the birth rate is about 50 50 - the young men will eventually become competition for marriage partners. very clear accounts from flds in hilldale and co city was to establish police force to keep young men and young women separate and if possible, run the young boys out of town. in one instance, young man gave a young woman a ride in pick up. police stopped them and beat young man up. later charged with assault.

welfare fraud and dependence on the state.

sources consulted include - history by a local person to start source. went back to old apostate sources from 1870s, spent most of time talking about current activities through different sources, groups work welfare system - called bleeding the beast - children of god used the term spoiling egypt. the group is hostile to society but is willing to use the resources because the group is special or chosen. used sources from national post, wallstreet journal etc. used sources from bennions book - said that women were impoverished and women used food stamps, shop lifting, etc. also tom green was required to pay back over 10000 for welfare fraud. largest case was conducted by the Kingston's. Kingston's are a fairly wealthy group but members live in poverty.

polygamy as a threat to the democratic state - fundamentalist Mormonism challenge to free and democratic society.

historical material included testimony from early flds us government investigation from prior to short creek raid. tracked down all major american court cases about polygamy. used hardly any of that material in here. been collecting books for years but also went online. people send emails because of his work. also getting material from google.

is it customary to use media reports.

there is a debate among the social sciences. some say that you should not use media in social sciences. however, media always lead the way. they are at trials in the communities, etc. researchers do not have the opportunity to be there. all major academics in this field use media account.

on threats to the state, based on flds communities in utah and arizona. in addition to reliance on welfare and services (like schools, etc). to be anyone of rank in the town, you have to be a male in good stead with the leaders of the town. all the major jobs were held by polygamists in the town. if someone was experiencing difficulties, who could you go to. sam roundy, who was a police man for many years had several reports of sex abuse and did not refer them to anyone for help.

for democracy, you need educated people who know who to go to someone for help and you have to be able to get hope from these sources.

in a recent book chapter, has written that polygamy should continue to be criminalized.

cross-ex by leah (ag bc)

assist court by giving authoritative material : two books about colorado city - used book by biceline - orangish red cover - the polygamist history of colorado city arizona.

in terms of early history of polygamy in western canada: edited by B. Y. card and howard palmer. history of mormonism in canada. the mormon presence in canada (collection of essays - 5 are about polygamy).

any other texts?

carmon hardy - a solemn covenant - daphne branham's book is most approachable and is by far most comprehensive. “secret lives of the saints”

in terms of settlement of bountiful: nothing is better than daphne branham’s book. she interviewed alot of people who others had missed. many were involved in this procedure. best source that i have seen.

Cross-ex by mr. wickett (flds)

on page 4 of report: in my opinion, polygamy involves serious violation of human rights. when you use phrase polygamy - what do you mean.

i really mean polygyny. one man with several wives. polygamy can mean either genders.

in your report, do you really mean polygyny?


in paper you wrote in 2006, polygamy, children and human rights, - entered paper into evidence - is this first writing on subject?


dealt with many of subjects reported today. abuses are from evidence from certain plg mormon groups.

paper coming out with information about same sex marriage and polyamory. believes that these things should not be affected

from first paper, should justice take a pen and write “plg as practiced within certain fundamentalist mormon groups”

yes - as far as i am concerned yes.

because what you have researched is based upon reports about certain fundamentalist mormon groups.


research has involved reading books, journals and media reports about this groups?


did you start with the working premise that these groups cause harm to society?

yes - that is fair.

in selecting material that you were reading, were you selecting material that supported your hypothesis that these groups cause serious harms in the usa and canada.

yes - i had a hypothesis that i was trying to prove.

the material that you chose to read was intended to prove your hypothesis - to be clear - ?

in picking up on this question of sources - had a student go through 96 footnotes and tallied that 25 are newspaper articles and 29 were books. also cited academic journals and 1 medical report. in the breakdown on books - is this a fair categorization?

what you say sounds accurate

next exhibit -

tallied up 25 articles - in earlier references you said why you think these are accurate

media accounts from reputable newspapers are generally reputable accounts

in terms of welfare fraud and dependence on the states - one conclusion is that these examples from 3 plgy groups suggest attitude of entitlement - the rest of society (gentiles) should pay for them. first paragraph is about kinstons where a multi-millionare of 70 M$ was required to pay back thousands to the utah government. from wallstreet journal?


next was from thomas green case?


source was a reuters report - and also the case report - Mr. green is not a member of these groups but independent?

yes - he is independent

next point - refers to colorado city and hilldale. source is from article from salt lake trib.


first 2 cases are kingston and green and 3rd is from an entire community. am i right in thinking that the 3rd case is what leads to your conclusion that god has ordained their practice and that gentiles should pay for it.

refers to article - points out that one kingston got away with it but 2 others were not so lucky. there were a few involved.

yes - but these are just a few individuals not a community.

your thinking is that if a few people are convicted of fraud then that permeates the entire community?

in the case of green, it was not green who received welfare but it was his wives.

in the case of green, only green was convicted?


(wickett) From US senate hearing, by harry reid - presented evidence from flora jessop - who said that the average household received 8 times assistance of average family. facts show that only two households received assistance... in comparison data from arizona communities, it showed only 44% households received food stamps as opposed to 78% which had been claimed. Only one family had been accused of fraud. public perception is that welfare fraud is prevalent but the evidence shows that his is not supported by the evidence. reports show that the sect teaches self-reliance. do you consider these sources as valid?

yes - i consider this valid but contrary evidence. but it does not consider the school funding, the airplanes, the cars used by mormon leaders, etc.

nonetheless, if this article is correct, would you agree that there is not a fundamental problem with welfare fraud. Does this not highlight a problem with using nothing but media sources.

Return from break at 11:45

Mr. W. referring to an article from salt lake trib from 1998. would have known a great deal of information about sexual abuse because was a doctor. source was a AP online article from 2008. continued that even if it was reported to law enforcement would have been reported to someone like sam roundy nothing would have been done. hospitals, etc, were prisons for female dissidents. referring to account from daphne branham article - which said that flora jessop stated that if she were caught when she was leaving hilldale arizona, she would have been committed to a mental institution in flagstaff arizona which was standard procedure. Turning to Dr. barlow, was he a general practitioner.


you noted that he was accused with abuse charges


are you aware of what happened to these charges?

if think he was involved with the YFZ charges - i don’t know?

then are you saying that you don’t know what is actually happening here?

I am saying that see this section very differently - i am only highlighting area where more research is needed.

you are here not to give opinion, do you think these things are definitive? do you not have to bring healthy skepticism to this?


in reference to the claims about the psych hospital in flagstaff, you would know if there is an institution in flagstaff?

i would not know

reading “are women committed to psych facilities as means of locking up dissident women in flds - and you compare this to stalinist facilities in communist russia. “ does it not seem ludicrous that police from the flds could get people locked up in a facility in the state of arizona without intervention of health care professions? psychiatrists from the state mental facility for example.

These are not actual police, these police are polygamous themselves, they have broken their oath to support the state.

is it not fair to say that you have chosen these sources because they support your case but you have not verified these sources.
i stated them because if these statements are true, then these are very serious human rights violations.

Is it not true that your research methods have been seriously criticized by many academic researchers?

some people may have criticized by work

they have criticized your work. that is a fact. referring to an article on brain-washing that occurs in the church of scientology. I am not here to debate scientology, but rather methodology. refers to another professor, quotes a critique of kents work which criticize his conclusions and his methodology. reads from professor dawson “indeed for good reasons, a sociologist normally treats the work of competing religious groups, apostates and disaffected members with some critical response” goes on to describe the accepted practice of triangulation - data should be gathered from members and ex-members, group members, followers... information must be triangulated and considered from several different sources.” do you agree that this is important in social science research?

yes - this is fundamental

Would you not agree that you have not followed this process in the affidavit in the document that you have given to the court today?

In response to this - quoting that professor dawson and professor kent were expert witnesses in a civil suit against the church on scientology in edmonton. professor dawson was reportedly under contract to the church of scientology at the time.

if a university researcher is conducting research in a community were members can be punished for giving information, it is a very delicate business to get information from members of these groups. i had no entry point. it is very difficult to get the information because you put the people at risk. the likelihood of getting critical information if it puts the subjects a potential risks. if it puts members at potential risk, you cannot get ethics approval on it.

For members who have left the group, then there information should be more reliable because they are not under the threat of punishment.

not necessarily - i have been having trouble determining if information is reliable.

getting alot of discussion about the paper, the rebuttal, etc. and how these will be marked for identification - especially from mr Samuel's who is STOP attorney.

Dr. Kent, you have heard discussion between lordship, mr. Samuel's and me.

MR. Wickett - I have completed my questions

Dr. Kent: I would like to clarify

Mr. Samuels: I would like to give Dr. Kent opportunity to clarify.

Dr. Kent: there is a 10 year gap between what Mr. Wickett gave as information about what I gathered from the media reports. there may have been a change in the behavior of the flds and this may have been due to public pressure from the media reports.

court reconvened at 2:00:

Ms. Darter (Witness number 7)

witness originally gave affidavit as anonymous. later decided to appear waiving anonymity. AGBC commented that affidavit was sworn with “we” rather than I. Mr. Wickett explained that it was originally sworn as a group affidavit rather than individual.

AG Canada also had a number of concerns that there are several aspects in the form of the affidavit - as it was originally drafted as a group affidavit. for example - it refers to “as a father” when she certainly cannot testify to this.

Why did you abandon anonymity in this case when you originally took it?

There is always some risk in speaking in public, however, since this is a historic case, recognized that this presented an important opportunity to present a perspective that might not otherwise be seen.

Did you grow up in a particular religious faith?

Brought up as an independent fundamentalist mormon.

was your family polygamous?

yes, my father had 2 wives. there were 32 children in total. her mother had 15 children. her father had rather traditional roles. for a time, the entire family lived in one house. when they later obtained the means, they purchased an additional house. When her father become ill, they purchased two houses side by side to care for their father and the mothers live as neighbors today.

Since they are not part of any church, they had sunday school in their home where they would read from the bible and book of mormon and other religious texts. her father or her mother would teach. sometimes they would go to the neighborhood lds church for primary.

In your faith, do you believe in arranged marriage?
No, I do not.

AG Canada (Mr. Cameron) objects- has given wide latitude in terms of the affidavit. however, the beliefs that the witness grew up with are not in the affidavit and should not be allowed.

Justice Bauman - this is not my strict understanding. if she were appearing as an expert witness, this might be well founded. however, I will allow this in this case.

Mr. Wickett - in the case of the lay witnesses that have appeared on behalf of the crown, they were given a wide latitude in the telling of their story.

Justice Bauman: this is correct, I will allow this.

Mr Wickett: Did your family participate in communal property?

No - however, this is a choice for members of our faith. I just do not choose to participate in this.

What is your educational background?
graduated high school at the local public school.

What do you do for a living?
Have worked in the mortgage industry, participated in a cleaning business with a sister wife.

She was 20 when she was married - as was her husband. Their fathers were working on the same project and her brother was a friend of her current husband. She now lives in a household with 2 other wives. She has 7 children of her own and the oldest is 20.

She chose plural marriage because of her upbringing. She wanted to have the same things in her own family as she saw growing up.

the third wife came into family about 10 years ago.. how did his come about?

she was in a marriage that did not work out. I had a strong feeling or belief that she would be a good fit in our family. i spoke to the other wife about it and she agreed. we talked to our husband about it and he agreed. so we prayed about it - and she prayed about it. would this be good for everyone in the family - that’s how we approached it.

She is not affiliated with any specific church. we encourage our children to attend other fundamentalist churches, they attend lds churches, christian churches. 18 yr daughter has read the koran. we encourage them to find their own beliefs and hope that they might choose plural marriage, but warn them that this is a more difficult path.

of the biological children, the oldest is attended a state run virtual college. the rest are i public school?

How are important decisions made?

we discuss everything and try to come to an agreement. sometimes if one person has a very strong opinion, the others will yield to this. in terms of the children, the major choices are made between the biological mother and the father.

in terms of the children, the father tries to spend one on one time with each child independently. he spends time with each child on their birthday - makes effort to know the personality of each child.

plural marriage is a very sacred and deep principle for me. it is what i chose. some siblings did not choose to live plural marriage. in spite of that, we continue to get together and we love each other. does not believe that they wont get to the same heaven. it would just be the best thing for me.

if you were to leave the marriage?

since i am a legal wife, i would have to get a divorce like anyone else. nevertheless, we are all free to leave if we so choose.

Why did you choose to do this, even though it is against the law in utah.

some laws exist which it might be better if they did not exist.

if plural marriage were decriminalized in utah, would this have an impact in my life?

it would certainly have an impact in my life. it would also have a positive impact on the lives of many people of many cultures that live this way and it would make it easier for them to get help. her son has a dream to play in the nfl and is afraid that this might not be possible because his parents are polygamous. (this may not be realistic but it was a concern for him.

Cross ex. by Leah Greathead from AGBC.

Q: On the last point, concerning son and football, noticed that a darter is a professional basketball family who plays professional basketball in utah and comes from a polygamous family. is that right?

A: yes - he is well-known

Did you appear before the notary public alone or with anyone else.
A: I appeared with one sister wife

was your husband there?
A: no

was this presented on behalf of your entire family?
A: yes - on behalf of myself, sister wives and husband

did everyone agree to what was in the affidavit?
A: yes

what did you write?
A: its kind of a mesh, but “everyday we make the choice to live this way ...” paragraph 25. however, they all worked together on the affidavit.

at beginning of questions, you testified that you had been out in public and done some public speaking.

A: yes

when you use the term polygamy, you use the term to mean one husband and more than one wife?
A: yes

were you doing public speaking in an effort to de-criminalize polygamy?

A: public speaking was to university groups, social services, etc. to encourage better understanding. sister wives and husband were on oprah. believes that decriminalization of polygamy would be the best outcome.

are you generally aware of polygyny in the state of utah? you mentioned that you went to other flds churches, which were they?


are you aware of flds?
A: yes

the alred group?
A: they are the aub

the kingston group, tom greens group?

A: yes i am aware of these

as a an independent fundamentalist mormon, do you considered yourself a mormon?
A: we share alot of common beliefs, but because that church began to excommunicate members who practice polygamy, i am not a member of that group.

do you have a patriarchal structure of your family?

A: we joint parent. we don’t get caught up on that.

you said that in terms of children, you said that the father and mother have the final say. what if they disagree, who would have the final say?

A: it would depend on the issue.

regarding mr. thomas green - he is an independent fundamentalist mormon - and he married a number of teenage girls - some as young as 13 -

A: yes, i am aware of that and i strongly disagree with that and there are laws against it that should be enforced.

regarding kingstons - are you aware of teenage brides?
A: somewhat aware of that

Do you share ownerships of your homes?
A: yes - however, in terms of a broader community, like the united order, we do not practice that.

Is your name on the title of your home?
A: I think so - not sure -

how about your sister wives?

A: no, does not think so, however, they have businesses and the same rights.

in ann wildes video, she said it is not necessary to obtain permission of other wives before the husband takes another wife. do you agree with this
A: no. in terms of fundamentalist beliefs there is a wide variety of opinions.

did you work with mary batchelor and ann wild.
A: yes - to fund raise for an abuse shelter

you mentioned that you are legally married and if you left that you would need a divorce, what about your sister wives?

A: they are not legally married and would not need a divorce. however, it is my belief that they should still be taken care of and their children should be taken care of. it would be very painful for everyone involved, especially the children.

Cross-ex of AG Canada
you testified that you considered that all of the wives are married to your husband. did you go through a marriage ceremony with all the wives?

A: yes

what was this like?

A: like almost any marriage ceremony. you make promises to love, honor etc.

relative to marriage ages:

A: both were 20 when married. second wife had been in another plural marriage that did not work out. she was 29 and her husband 30 when they were married.

in affidavit, you testified that if polygamy were de-criminalized, it would make it more difficult to hide abuses that occur in some of these relationships. What did you mean by this?

A: In one family, a house was vandalized by teenagers who wrote “polygamous bitches” on their house. the family did not call police for fear of prosecution. When Ms. Darter was a teenager, she was confronted by an exhibitionist when she was walking with a non-polygamous friend. The fried called the police to report the incident but she was afraid to contact police for fear she would get her family in trouble. however, her parents encouraged her to talk to police and it went well, but the fear was real.

In your relationship, is your husband free to take another wife?
A: yes

are you free to take another husband?
A: If I chose to do so, and if it was in by belief system and it was my desire.

would you still be in your current relationship?
A: no.

court adjourned at 3:00 pm

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