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Carolyn Jessop

Carolyn Jessop At 35 years old, Carolyn Jessop decided to escape her abusive marriage to Merril Jessop, get her eight children safely out of Colorado City, Arizona, and leave the FLDS.   Seventeen years earlier, she had been forced into an arranged polygamous marriage with the 50-year-old Merril Jessop.

If Carolyn got caught escaping, she knew that her children would be taken from her and that she would be shunned by the community.   Worse yet, she feared that the local FLDS doctor would probably diagnose her as mentally ill.   If that happened, she could be sent to a mental institution in Flagstaff, Arizona, where several other "rebellious" women from the community had been "warehoused."

At 10 p.m. on April 21, 2003, she found her window of opportunity to flee.   She and her eight children crept out of the home they shared with her husband's other six wives and 46 children, leaving forever.

Below are some articles discussing the harrowing experience Carolyn endured trying to escape her polygamous life.
Woman Tells How She Escaped Polygamy
KUTV News Channel 2
Originally broadcast June 24, 2003

A polygamous wife Tuesday told how she had to escape two months ago with her children from Colorado City.   The woman believes people from the polygamous community are still trying to lure her children back into the polygamous religion and lifestyle.   Rod Decker has more.   Carolyn Jessop is a schoolteacher, an educated woman.   She said the Colorado City community is growing more restrictive and she feared her daughters might be pushed into polygamous marriages.   Jessop says she worked as a schoolteacher, but her husband took her paychecks.   "I was required to sign that over to my husband and ask him for everything," she said.   Jessop says she was the fourth of seven wives of 67-year-old Merril Jessop.   They've been married 17 years and had eight children but she's wanted out for a long time.   "The marriage has been abusive from the beginning," she said.     Read more
Man wins visitation rights to children from estranged plural wife
The Associated Press
Originally published June 25, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A polygamist father was granted visitation rights to eight of his children Tuesday.   Merril Jessop, of Colorado City, Ariz., will be permitted to see his eight children by estranged plural wife Carolyn Jessop.  The couple separated when Carolyn Jessop, 35, left home in April with her children, ages 2 to 15.   A 3rd District Court domestic relations commissioner mediated the agreement, which still must be finalized with a judge's signature, said Rod Parker, Merril Jessop's attorney.   Douglas White, Carolyn Jessop's attorney, did not immediately return several phone calls Wednesday from The Associated Press.   Parker said accusations about child abuse in the home had thwarted his client's visitation rights.  Parker said those accusations were baseless.     Read more
Plural wife gets custody of 8 children
Deseret Morning News
Originally published June 25, 2003

A plural wife was granted full custody of her eight children Tuesday by a 3rd District Court domestic relations commissioner, who also granted the children's father visitation rights.   "I think we had a really good result," said Rod Parker, who represents 67-year-old Merril Jessop of Colorado City, Ariz.   Parker also represents the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a church that openly practices polygamy in the twin border towns of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah.   "What's good about this stipulation is that Merril and his children were given the same rights as any other family experiencing separation."   Carolyn Jessop, 35, left her Colorado City home with the children in April.   A message left for Doug White, Carolyn's attorney, was not returned by press time late Tuesday.   The children, five boys and three girls, range in age from almost 2 to 15 years.     Read more
Ex-polygamist wife talks about her experiences
By Jordan Muhlestein
Standard-Examiner - Ogden, Utah
Originally published October 22, 2005

OGDEN -- A woman who escaped from an abusive polygamist society two years ago says she finally has hope in her life.   "Now, I'm not powerless," Carolyn Jessop said.   "I know as bad as the day is, tomorrow can be better."   Those leaving polygamy are refugees born into oppression and slavery, she said.   "I was born in the United States and I never experienced the bounty of a free life," Jessop said.   She spoke Friday at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center for an International Association of Workforce Professionals conference.   She said private individuals, rather than state programs, have been most important in her adjustment into mainstream society.   "I had difficulties with the system," she said.   Her speech focused on the abuses she faced in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints society in and around Hildale, and how the state could better serve fleeing women.   "The (FLDS) culture doesn't consider abuses against women a crime," Jessop said.  "However, it does consider a woman talking about abuse a crime."     Read more
Escape from polygamy
RUNAWAY | When Carolyn Jessop fled a cult with her eight kids she 'jumped off a cliff'
By Daphne Bramham
The Vancouver Sun
Originally published Saturday, December 3, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - Carolyn Jessop plotted for months how to escape her polygamist marriage, get her eight children safely out of Colorado City, Ariz., and out of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   "I had to have a window of opportunity because I was doing something that had never been done before," says Jessop.   "I was going to take all of my children.  Women had left before, but they only took their younger kids.  But I had decided if I left, they were all coming with me."   It was complicated.  Her oldest child, 15-year-old Arthur, had been working construction jobs outside the community since he was 12 and only came home on weekends.  Her "husband" Merril Jessop frequently went away during the week.   But rarely was Arthur home when Merril was away.   At 10 p.m. on April 21, 2003, the window opened.     Read more
Honors for ex-polygamous wife
Former wife is publishing book on escape from FLDS marriage
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published August 29, 2007

In the middle of the night, Carolyn Jessop packed up her children and fled a marriage to a man 32 years older than she was.  There was just one problem.  "I had nowhere to go," she said Tuesday.  She drove from the Fundamentalist LDS border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., headed for Salt Lake City.  "I just felt like, worst-case situation, I'll start knocking on doors until I found a total stranger who would take me and my eight children," Jessop said.  She had left behind the only life she knew — as Merril Jessop's fourth wife — headed for an unknown future outside of the cloistered FLDS Church.  "It was pretty scary," she said of her situation.  Now, Jessop is telling her story in a book that is garnering her an award — before it even hits store shelves.  The ex-polygamous wife will be honored today by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce's Women's Business Center as a "Renaissance Woman."  Her story will be celebrated at a high tea honoring some of the state's top businesswomen.  "She's such a sweet, dear person, and obviously so strong," said Nancy Mitchell, the executive director of the Women's Business Center.  "When you look at her, you can't imagine the strength she has."  Jessop's book, "Escape," is a memoir of her life inside and outside of the FLDS Church.  At age 18, she married Jessop — then 54 — and over the course of 15 years bore him eight children.  She feared her husband.     Read more
This Week On 'Oprah'
Friday: Polygamy In America: Lisa Ling Reports
WISN ABC 12 - Milwaukee, WI
Originally broadcast October 23, 2007

It is a society that you may think you know, but you have never seen it like this until Friday's show.  A polygamist husband comes forward for the first time and shares why he is risking everything to tell his side.  And, Lisa Ling journeys to the dark side of polygamy to give us an inside look at this secret world.
Polygamy Survivor Carolyn Jessop
TIME Magazine
Originally published Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Polygamy was the norm in Carolyn Jessop's life. After all, her own father had three wives by the time she was in fourth grade. Her family was part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a radical offshoot of the Mormon Church. But Jessop's own experience in the cult was so disturbing that she ran away with her eight children four years ago. Last month, the FLDS was in the news when its leader, Warren Jeffs, was found guilty of being an accessory to rape for forcing a 14-year-old girl in the group to marry her 19-year-old cousin. Jessop, 38, tells her extraordinary story in a riveting new book, Escape (Broadway). TIME's Andrea Sachs spoke with Jessop from her home in a suburb of Salt Lake City.

TIME: You were 18 when you were told you were going to be the fourth wife of Merril Jessop, a 50-year-old leader of the FLDS. How did you feel?

Carolyn Jessop: I was shocked. I was devastated. I really wasn't expecting that I'd be getting married. I didn't want to get married. I really had my heart set on going to college. The biggest concern I had with it was that once you're married, your husband really does own you.

Did you try to escape?

I had watched my sister make an attempt to try to get out of an arranged marriage. She ran away and then what happened to her was just so devastating and I didn't see any hope.
Read more
Oprah profiles polygamy on TV today
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, October 26, 2007

An ex-member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church suggests the best way to reduce the negative effects of polygamy is to decriminalize it.  Carolyn Jessop made those comments in an interview posted on the Web site for the "Oprah Winfrey Show."  "If there was a way to decriminalize it, people could live honestly and in the open and with dignity and their children could be more mainstreamed. Then the children would have more options," Jessop said in her interview with Winfrey, published on and scheduled to be broadcast on today at 4 p.m. on KUTV.  Jessop recently authored the book "Escape," detailing her life in the FLDS Church as the fourth wife of Merrill Jessop, a leader in the polygamous sect.  Her story and her book were profiled by the Deseret Morning News in August.  Winfrey delves into polygamy in today's show, interviewing a polygamist man and his family from the fundamentalist community of Centennial Park, Ariz., and a plural wife who lives in the Salt Lake City area.     Read more
Polygamy in America
From the show Polygamy in America: Lisa Ling Reports
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Originally broadcast October 26, 2007

Lisa's next stop in her investigation into the secret world of polygamy was Colorado City, Arizona — home to Warren Jeffs and his followers.  When his father, Rulon, died in 2002, Jeffs assumed control of the largest and most secretive polygamist sect, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS.  Jeffs allegedly controlled the marriages of his followers, assigning wives to favored members and taking wives away from others.  In May 2006 Jeffs was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List — and was later featured on America's Most Wanted — based on charges that he organized "marriages" between men and underage girls.  In August 2006 he was arrested near Las Vegas.  And in September 2007, Jeffs was convicted on two counts of accomplice to rape.  He now awaits sentencing and a second trial in Arizona on multiple charges of both accomplice to incest and sex with minors.  Lisa's guide in Colorado City is Carolyn Jessop.  Carolyn was raised by three mothers and has 36 brothers and sisters.  At 18, she says she was forced to marry a powerful 50-year-old FLDS leader, Merril Jessop.  Carolyn had eight of Merril's 54 children, but she says she was always desperate for freedom.  Four years ago, she risked her life by taking her children and escaping Colorado City in the middle of the night.  Carolyn says her ex-husband and Jeffs were very close.  She says Jeffs always chose young, pretty girls for his wives.  "When I lived in the community, he had upwards of 60 [wives]," she says.  "But I've heard stories and reports now from people who have left that now he has upwards of 180."  Carolyn and Lisa's first stop in Colorado City is Merril Jessop's former house.  She says she was Merril's fourth wife, but he added a fifth and sixth wife within six months.  As they stand on the street in town talking, passing cars honk their horns at Lisa and Carolyn.  "I'm sure we were not here for very long before word was circulated through the entire community that there's media here," Carolyn says.     Read more
Excerpt from Escape
By Carolyn Jessop and Laura Palmer
From the show Polygamy in America: Lisa Ling Reports
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Originally broadcast October 26, 2007

Early Childhood

I was born in the bitter cold but into warm and loving hands. Aunt Lydia Jessop was the midwife who brought me into the world on January 1, 1968, just two hours after midnight.

Aunt Lydia could not believe I'd survived. She was the midwife who had delivered babies for two generations, including my mother. When she saw the placenta, she realized that my mother had chronic placental abruption. Mom had hemorrhaged throughout her pregnancy and thought she was miscarrying. But when the bleeding stopped, she shrugged it off, assuming she was still pregnant. Aunt Lydia, the midwife, said that by the time I was born, the placenta was almost completely detached from the uterus. My mother could have bled to death and I could have been born prematurely or, worse, stillborn.

But I came into the world as a feisty seven-pound baby, my mother's second daughter. My father said she could name me Carolyn or Annette. She looked up both names and decided to call me Carolyn because it meant "wisdom." My mother always said that even as a baby, I looked extremely wise to her.

I was born into six generations of polygamy on my mother's side and started life in Hildale, Utah, in a fundamentalist Mormon community known as the FLDS, or the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Polygamy was the issue that defined us and the reason we'd split from the mainstream Mormon Church.

My childhood memories really begin in Salt Lake City. We moved there when I was about five. Even though my parents believed in polygamy, my father had only one wife. He owned a small real estate business that was doing well and decided it made sense to use Salt Lake as a base. We had a lovely house with a porch swing and a landscaped yard and trees. This was a big change from the tiny house in Colorado City with dirt and weeds in the yard and a father who was rarely home.
Read more
Escape by Carolyn Jessop
Book Club with Deb Perry
Sunshine Coast Daily - Queensland, Australia
Originally published November 13, 2007

Thank you to all of you who have given such positive feedback on the Book Club!  And there have been some great thoughts on the Thousand Splendid Suns discussion so far.  A book I am reading currently - and which I've had a number of people comment on - is "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop.  This non fiction book, published by Penguin, is available from all Mary Ryan Book Stores for $32.95.  Here's a short synopsis to whet your appetite:

Carolyn Jessop was born into a religious cult known as the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints, a 10,000-strong community living in Arizona, USA.  Aged 18 she was coerced into marriage with a 50-year-old man she barely knew.   She became his fourth wife, and had eight children in 15 years.  This is the true story of Carolyn Jessop's life in this violent and abusive cult.  Children were brainwashed, taught that everyone outside the community was evil, that dinosaurs never existed and men never set foot on the moon.  Books were banned.   But Carolyn Jessop escaped and just a year later her testimony was central to getting the assets of the cult frozen, and its notorious leader, Warren Jeffs, put on trial.  This is her astonishing story.  I look forward to your discussion on this book, good or bad!  I'll certainly be sharing my thoughts as I read it.
'I shared my husband with 12 other wives'
By Carolyn Jessop
YOU Magazine
The Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published December 21, 2007

Brought up in a closed sect that believes in polygamy as the key to paradise, Carolyn Jessop endured an arranged marriage to a 50-year-old man and had eight children before she found the courage to flee, taking her family with her  The moment had come.  I had been watching and waiting for months.  Now the time was right and I could not afford to fail.  The two things that had to happen before I could escape were in place: my husband had gone away on a business trip and my eight children were all at home.  The choice was freedom or a life of fear.  I called my brother Arthur.  'If I do it tonight, will you help me?'  'Carolyn,' he said, 'I'll do everything I can, but even if I leave right now, the soonest I can be there is five in the morning.'  He lived 300 miles away and would have to drive through the night.  'Will you do it?'  I tried not to sound as desperate as I felt.  'I'll be there,' he said.     Read more
Tales of women's hard fight for freedom
Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer

A Life in Pieces
Richard K Boer
By Jennifer Crocker
Tonight Entertainment Guide
Independent News and Media - Johannesburg, South Africa
Originally published January 25, 2008

For many women life is about trying to escape. It's easy to forget that when your life is working well, but as well to remember that for many, many women life is cruel and arbitrary.

Escape and A Life in Pieces both tell the stories of young women trapped in their own nightmares.

Here's one scenario: you're 18 years old and, even though you are a member of a fundamentalist sect that generally doesn't encourage young women to go off and study, you have plans to go to college. Then one day you come home and hear that your life course has been changed just ever so slightly and you are about to marry a man who is 32 years older than you and already has a few other wives.

Second scenario: you wake up after giving birth to your second child and you have no idea who you are. The situation seems threatening, and when your mother and your husband come into your hospital ward, you don't know who they are.

Welcome to the worlds of Carolyn Jessop and "Karen".     Read more
Review: 'Escape'
tells the story of a woman's journey away from a cult
By Jodi Butler
The Journal-Standard - Freeport, Illinois
Originally published Friday, January 25, 2008

The Book Club seemed to enjoy this month's selection for the most part, but often for different reasons.

"I liked it because it was disturbing," said one member, who found the story's subject matter of polygamy and abuse harrowing and intriguing.  Another disagreed. "I didn't like it because it was disturbing," she said.  A third reader had to force herself to read it, but once she got into the story, she liked the book.  Yet another reader was bored in the middle of the book, and kept waiting for Carolyn Jessop to escape.  A few readers said they would recommend the book.

The synopsis

"Escape" by Carolyn Jessop (written with help from Laura Palmer) is Jessop's true-life story.  Raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), she becomes the fourth wife to a 50-year-old stranger, Merril Jessop, when she is just 18.  For years she suffers psychological abuse and cruelty, both at his hands and at the hands of his other wives and their older children as they all fight for control, all the while giving birth to eight children of her own.  At last, unwilling to endure living on earth with him, let alone the idea of living an eternity with him after death, she plots her escape, and successfully finds a new life with her children.

Unequal wives, unequal lives

Like most FLDS families, Merril Jessop had a favorite wife, Barbara, but unlike most FLDS families, his favorite wife never changed.  "Barbara didn't want Merril to be pleased with any of the other wives," noted a reader.  Dominant wife Barbara was so favored by Merril, that often while the other wives had to subsist on tomato sandwiches, she ate steak dinners.  And if a wife did get a nice meal with Merril, she "could only eat what he liked."     Read more
Escape from the clutches of a cult
ESCAPE by Carolyn Jessop (Penguin, £6.99)
The Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published February 1, 2008

Carolyn Jessop was 35 when she made her escape.  She was fleeing both her home in Colorado City, Arizona, and the polygamous sect in which she had grown up, the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints.  At the age of 18, Jessop had been assigned in marriage to a 50-year-old man. She was, at the time, his fourth wife.  'The Choice was Freedom or Fear' — at least, this is the title of Jessop's Preface.  In reality, her decision to leave the FLDS was far from clear-cut.  Indeed, what makes this incredible memoir so compelling is that it reveals the workings of a brainwashed mind.  As a child, Jessop played 'Apocalypse' rather than hide-and-seek.  The end of the world was to be welcomed, and all those outside the sect feared.  What's more, as the descendant of 'a faithful bloodline' Jessop was FLDS 'royalty': 'I felt like the luckiest little girl to be one of God's elite.'  The reality of her early years, however, was unenviable.  Realising that her volatile, depressive mother hit her hardest in the afternoons, she would ensure that she was naughtiest at the start of the day.  She never told her father about the beatings because they were 'an accepted part of our culture'.     Read more
My life with a cult
Born into a polygamous, abusive sect, Carolyn Jessop was married off to a 50-year-old man and bore him eight children before she escaped.
By Torcuil Crichton
Sunday Herald - Glasgow, Scotland
Originally published February 9, 2008

SOMETIMES COURAGEOUS people don't look as if they have just laid down their armour before entering the room.  Sometimes, perfectly normal-looking people carry the most exceptional stories of bravery in through the door with them and for Carolyn Jessop, a small, neat woman in a business suit entering a London hotel lounge, normal was another planet.   Jessop, now in her late 30s, grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), created from a schism in the Mormon Church.  Normal for her was being brought up to believe that the world outside her closed community in Colorado City was "evil".  Normal was seeing her polygamous father marry three wives.  Normal was being coerced, at the age of 18, into a marriage with a 50-year-old man she barely knew and being told that his sexual gratification was the key to her eternal salvation.  Normal was becoming the fourth wife of a man who went on to have 12 other wives, and to bear him eight children in 15 years.  Normal was a polygamous, delusional theology with complete male dominance and the attendant bitter, paranoid, loveless society that came with it.     Read more
Woman learns to be a mother outside FLDS
By Carolyn Jessop
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Sunday, May 11, 2008

When I fled the FLDS with my eight children in the middle of the night five years ago, I was desperate.  Desperate to escape the terror that had engulfed our lives.  Desperate to keep my 14-year-old daughter from being married off to an older man.  Desperate to make sure we never had to move into the FLDS compound that was being built in Texas.  Desperate to get my children into public schools again.  I dreamed about what freedom would mean for my children.  What I never imagined was the extraordinary gift freedom would give me: I would finally learn what it means to be a mother.  I had eight children in 15 years, but I did not know what a miracle it is to be a mother.  I had no way of knowing the deep gladness mothering gives.  I didn't know because in the FLDS, great emphasis is put on breaking the bonds between a mother and her child.  My youngest son, Bryson, was 1 year old when I escaped.  He was the first of my eight children with whom I forged a one-on-one relationship.  We were able to attach to each other in a way I had never experienced.  In an FLDS family, any woman can discipline another woman's children.  A wife who is jealous of another wife will routinely target another woman's children for abuse.  After Harrison, my seventh child, was diagnosed with spinal neuroblastoma, I was terrified of getting pregnant again.  I'd already had three life-threatening pregnancies.  I feared dying if I had one more.  Merril Jessop, my ex-husband - who is now the most powerful man in the FLDS and running the compound in Texas - said Harrison's cancer was a sign that God was punishing me for my rebellion.  He told me it was a waste of time to take Harrison to doctors and said God would heal him if I became more obedient.     Read more
Carolyn Jessop's story is a portrait of courage
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Sunday, May 11, 2008

Carolyn Jessop took my breath away.  I've been a reporter, news producer and author for 30 years.  I've listened to a lot of stories since I started out as a freelance radio reporter in Saigon in 1972.  But only twice in interviews do I remember trying not to exhale because I knew what I was hearing was that extraordinary.  When I was a senior producer for CNN three years ago, I flew out to Salt Lake City to do a piece on the "Lost Boys" of the FLDS, the hundreds of teenagers who'd been kicked out of the cult and told never to return to their families.  As I was leaving New York, the executive producer of the broadcast I worked for, NewsNight with Aaron Brown, said, "See if you can find some women to talk to who fled polygamy."  Not easy.  But I lucked out.  Utah's attorney general, Mark Shurtleff, knew about Carolyn Jessop.  He said that she had a story to tell and that he'd see if she might be willing to be interviewed.  She was.  (Later I would learn that when Shurtleff first met with Carolyn to learn more about the FLDS under Warren Jeffs, Shurtleff had scheduled a half-hour meeting but wound up listening for 2½ hours.)  But because my interview with Carolyn came together at the last minute, I had no time to do a pre-interview.  I was just grateful I had someone willing to sit down in front of a camera.  Carolyn came to the hotel with Brian, the man in her life. He sat to one side as she began to tell the story of how she escaped.  I listened as she told me how she awakened her eight children in the middle of the night on the pretext that her handicapped son was sick and needed to go to the doctor.  She described taking him off his feeding tube and removing him from oxygen.  The other wives heard her up and about and called their husband, Merril Jessop, one of the most powerful men in the FLDS.  Carolyn heard herself paged on the intercom.  She knew she was down to minutes.     Read more
Heigl to star in movie based on ex-FLDS member's book
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Gray's Anatomy" actress Katherine Heigl will star in a feature film adaptation of Carolyn Jessop's best-selling book "Escape," about her life within the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  The Hollywood-industry newspaper Variety reported Tuesday that Heigl will also produce the film. Jessop's book, about her life as the fourth wife of FLDS leader Merrill Jessop and her decision to leave the polygamous sect, has been a huge bestseller.  It is not the only film in development about the FLDS Church.  Variety previously reported that "Stolen Innocence" would be made into a movie.  That book was written by Elissa Wall, the witness in the case against FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.
Katherine Heigl Wants to 'Escape' Polygamy
By Monika Bartyzel
Cinematical - Santa Monica, CA
Originally published June 11, 2008

I was beginning to think that Katherine Heigl was sliding into a comfortable future of typecast romcoms and fluff fare on the big screen, with the occasional dramatic television movie to mix things up -- sort of like the next-generation Sandra Bullock.  But now she has added some meat to her plate.  Variety reports that she will both produce and star in an adaptation of Escape, the memoir of Carolyn Jessop -- the woman who broke out of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints) world and helped convict polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs (the man who so idiotically thinks that the more wives you have, the closer you get to heaven).  At the age of 18, she had to marry a man 32 years older than her.  With this man, she had eight children, suffered rape and abuse, and finally escaped the life and became the first woman to leave an FLDS life and gain full custody of her children.  Right now, there's no word on who will adapt the memoir, but maybe one of the Big Love folks will take this on.  FLDS stories are all the rage these days.  So, what do you think?  Can Heigl pull off the role?     See photo
Top-ranking senator files legislation to aid victims of polygamist sects
Texas attorney general supports bill, says national help is essential
San Antonio Express-News
Houston Chronicle
Originally published July 24, 2008

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — comparing polygamists to organized crime bosses — Thursday introduced a bill that would help Texas and other states crack down on crimes against women and children.  Reid said the legislation would provide $2 million in victim assistance and create a federal task force to aid state investigations into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its compounds in Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.  "The most obvious crimes being committed in these communities are bigamy and child abuse," Reid said.  "These crimes are systematic, sophisticated and carried out across state lines."  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, "it is a big challenge for state authorities, acting alone, to contain or prevent criminal activity that crosses multiple states and even national borders."  Abbott, a Republican, said he backed Reid's bill — the Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008.  The Senate hearing was held two days after a grand jury in the West Texas city of Eldorado returned indictments alleging that five FLDS members, including sect leader Warren Jeffs, assaulted girls under the age of 17.  A sixth FLDS member was indicted on charges of failure to report child abuse.     Read more
Tuesday Night Book Club meets
By Anne Crowe Glass
The Clanton Advertiser - Clanton, Alabama
Originally published Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sonja and Steve Smith were hosts to the Tuesday Night Book Club on August 26.  Present were Janette Frost, Anne Glass, Mae Hunnicutt, Brenda Jones, Doris Jones, Karen Jones, Cass Keenan, Carol and Ned Lowery, Sarah McEwen, Jaime Mitchell, Nancy Rogers, our hosts and Judy Williams.

Our book for August was Escape by Carolyn Jessop.  This book is not one you would enjoy reading, but one that will inform you, amaze you and alarm you that a story like this book relates could happen in this country.  The author was born into a radical polygamist cult.  The story she relates is sad and terrifying at the same time because those born into the cult rarely ever escape from the life they were born into.  Carolyn Jessop is one of the lucky ones who did manage to escape, but at great personal suffering and loss.  She spent not days, weeks, nor months, but several years waiting for time and circumstances to be favorable to attempt her escape.  She had eight children including one special needs infant for whom she had to stock pile medicine and special food and other supplies without provoking questions from the rest of the household which was encouraged to spy and report on each other.  Carolyn's every move was watched by her husband and his other wives who traded information for status and privileges.  When she began teaching school, her husband intercepted each check and kept every cent.  She knew that if anyone in that household suspected that she was thinking of leaving, her children would be taken from her and placed elsewhere.  She endured her husband's tyranny and psychological cruelty and bided her time.  No military general ever plotted a strategic maneuver more carefully that Carolyn planned her escape.  The happiness if not the very lives of nine people were at stake.  One living condition that proved very helpful was that Carolyn and her eight children had been relegated to living in the basement of the Jessop home.  One night when Merril Jessop and Barbara, his favorite watch dog wife, were out of town, darkness hid Carolyn as she quietly drover her station wagon to the basement door, loaded her children and what supplies would fit into the available space, and drove away in the middle of the night, never to return to Merrill Jessop's home.   The Jessop household had consisted of Merril, his seven wives, and 32 children.  The cult was the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which was an offshoot of the Mormon Church.     Read more
Former FLDS calls new life as single mom 'heaven'
Friends of the Library hosts Carolyn Jessop Oct. 21
By Greg Marshall
Park Record - Park City, Utah
Originally published October 14, 2008

Like many moms, Carolyn Jessop fills her days hauling her kids from one activity to another.  Her boys have to be driven to football practice.  Her youngest daughters need rides to girl scouts.  Some of her kids do karate, one has math tutoring.  When Jessop, a single mom with eight kids between the ages of seven and 21, is not zigzagging around her neighborhood in West Jordan, she has to find time for her boyfriend of more than three years, time to write, and time to sew (she makes some of the costumes for the HBO series "Big Love").  While working on costumes for the show, she watched "Big Love," about a polygamist family in Salt Lake City, but she said it was unrealistic to the point of being almost unwatchable for her.  One plotline, about a plural wife who racks up thousands of dollars of credit-card debt, particularly bothered Jessop.  In the show, her husband bails her out.  In real life, a wayward FLDS wife would not have been in that situation.  "She never would have done that," Jessop explained in a telephone interview Monday.  "She wouldn't have been allowed to have assets in her own name."     Read more
Carolyn Jessop tells her personal story of control and abuse
By Landus Rigsby
Claremont Courier - Claremont, California
Originally published November 15, 2008

Powerful.  Moving.  Shocking.  Former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Jessop, shared the story of her life and eventual escape from the polygamous sect at the Balch Auditorium on Tuesday night.  The first speaker for this season's Alexa Fullerton Hampton Speaker Series: Voice and Vision, Ms. Jessop took the audience on a 37-minute journey that spanned from her experience within the sect as a child, to her current life as a mother.  "The lifestyle — when you're born into it — it's not just a lifestyle any longer," Ms. Jessop told the audience on Tuesday.  "It actually becomes a culture that is separate and different than normal society. And you're taken away from that to the level that you don't know anything different."  Born into what she refers to as the "largest FLDS sect" in 1968, Ms. Jessop became a 6th generation member and was raised according to its lifestyle and teachings.  While she wanted to attend college after high school, she instead was forced to marry current FLDS leader Merril Jessop at just 18 years of age.  Mr. Jessop was 50 years old at the time and the marriage was his 4th.  From her childhood, the former FLDS member was taught to believe people outside of the church were evil and her rights as a woman were determined by her father and later on, her husband.  Yet it was her experiences apart from the FLDS community that began to open her up to a different reality and break the effects of control she had been subject to from an early age.     Read more
Polygamist ranch leader indicted
The Associated Press
Houston Chronicle
Originally published November 24, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — A 72-year-old elder of a breakaway polygamist Mormon sect and two other church members surrendered to authorities Monday to face felony charges relating to the underage marriage of girls to older men.  Fredrick "Merril" Jessop, a leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who oversaw the sect's West Texas ranch, faces one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor on July 27, 2006 — the same day one of his daughters was allegedly married to jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  She was 12 at the time and is now the only child from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in foster care after her mother refused to cooperate with child welfare authorities.  A grand jury in Eldorado, Texas, indicted Jessop, Jeffs and two other members of FLDS on Nov. 12.  Jeffs, convicted in Utah and awaiting trial in Arizona on charges related to underage marriages of sect girls, faces charges in Texas of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.  The two other men who turned themselves in Monday are:

- Wendell Loy Nielsen, 68, charged with three counts of bigamy. The indictment includes few details, but church records released as part of a separate child custody case list 21 women married to Nielsen in August 2007.

- Leroy Johnson Steed, 42, who is charged with sexual assault of a child, bigamy and tampering with evidence. Church records show Steed married to a 16-year-old girl in March 2007.

All three men were booked Monday and then released after posting bond.  "We've said all along we're not running. We're going to take it head on," said FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop.  "The allegations they're making and what they're trying to do is nothing more than harassment."     Read more
Kirk Ellis to pen 'Escape'
Katherine Heigl to star in adaptation of Carolyn Jessop's book
By Borys Kit
Hollywood Reporter
Originally published Monday, December 8, 2008

Kirk Ellis, who won an Emmy for penning the HBO miniseries "John Adams," has been tapped to write "Escape," to which Katherine Heigl is attached to star for Relevant Entertainment.  "Escape" tells the true story of Carolyn Jessop, who after years of being in a forced polygamous marriage escaped from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints with her eight children.  Ellis will be adapting Jessop's book.  Relevant's Michael Menchel is producing along with Heigl and her mother Nancy Heigl via their Abishag shingle.  The project is being independently financed by Catherine Williams and her Como Court Prods.  Williams also is acting as a producer.  Ellis, who won another Emmy for "Adams" as co-executive producer, also garnered Emmy nominations for his work on the miniseries "Into the West" and for writing "Anne Frank: The Whole Story."  He is repped by CAA and Thruline.
Katherine Heigl to 'Escape' in Polygamist Film
Entertainment Tonight
Originally published December 8, 2008

"Grey's Anatomy" actress Katherine Heigl is reportedly attached to star in a film based on a true story of a woman who escaped a polygamist marriage.  Heigl will star in "Escape" as Carolyn Jessop, who escapes a religious cult with her eight children after years in a forced polygamous marriage, according to the Hollywood Reporter.  The film, an adaptation of Jessop's book, will be produced by Relevant Entertainment in cooperation with Heigl's own Abishag Productions, the trade paper reported.
See Photo
Ex-member of radical Mormon sect to speak
Metro Communities
The Des Moines Register - Des Moines, Iowa
Originally published January 3, 2009

Author Carolyn Jessop will discuss her book "Escape" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave.  The book is the first-person account of life inside the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, a radical offshoot of the Mormon Church.  Jessop says she was forced at age 18 into an arranged marriage with a 56-year-old man who had three wives at the time.  Over 15 years, the couple had eight children.  The group's leader, Warren Jeffs, was found guilty in 2007 for being an accessory to rape after he forced a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin.  In April 2003, Jessop and her children left the sect, centered in Colorado City, Ariz.  Her departure sparked a legal battle over custody of the children, which Jessop won.
Ex-polygamist author to be at Hastings in San Angelo
Local News
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published Monday, January 5, 2009

Hastings Books, Music and Videos said Carolyn Jessop, author of Escape, will be at the San Angelo store at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13.  Jessop was a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the polygamist sect that was the focus of national attention when its ranch in Schleicher County was raided in April 2008 by state authorities, who removed hundreds of children thought to be at risk of sexual abuse.  Jessop wrote about her experiences breaking away from the FLDS.  She is promoting the paperback release of her book.  Hastings, at 4238 Sunset Drive, sells books, music and movies.
130 turn out for Carolyn Jessop book signing
By Jayna Boyle
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Several people waiting in line at Carolyn Jessop's book-signing described her story the same way: brave.  At least 130 people turned out at Hastings in San Angelo to see Jessop, author of "Escape," and share a word or two with her.  The book is her memoir of life in a polygamist "marriage" in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and how she broke away with her eight children.  Jessop's former husband, Merril Jessop, was the leader of the FLDS group at the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado that authorities raided in April.  More than 400 children were temporarily taken into state custody.  "I think there's quite a bit of interest here," Carolyn Jessop said recently.  Willie Jessop, a sect elder who is a spokesman for the FLDS, said Tuesday that he has not read Carolyn Jessop's book.  He said more families continue to return to the YFZ Ranch to resume their way of life, and he is grateful for that.  Of the book-signing, Willie Jessop said, "I'm disappointed she would exploit such a tragic situation and use it for her own personal gain."  He was referring to the state raid on the sect's ranch.  At the book signing, Callie Albus of San Angelo said she kept up with the news during the YFZ raid, but that Carolyn Jessop's book gives details about the FLDS that weren't on the news.     Read more
Reading: Carolyn Jessop
Tues., Jan. 20
By Lizzy Encarnacao
See & Do
Creative Loafing - Atlanta, Georgia
Originally published January 14, 2009

Domestic life can be tough.  Just ask author CAROLYN JESSOP, a former polygamist and member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS.  Married at age 18 to a 50-year-old man and his three wives, Jessop endured 15 years of abuse before breaking free from the church with her eight children.  Jessop discusses and signs copies of her book, Escape, an account of her life within FLDS.  Free. 7:15 p.m. Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-370-3070.     See photo
FLDS Lifestyle Separates Mom, Daughter
Reported by: Gary Tuchman, CNN
KRBC - KTAB TV Abilene, Texas
Originally broadcast Thursday, Jan 15, 2009

On the Texas ranch owned by Warren Jeff's polygamist sect known as the FLDS, a ranch closed off to most of the outside world, is this young lady named Betty ... and she hopes to be married some day soon.  "Would you like to someday have a sister wife or two?" asked reporter Gary Tuchman.  "Yeah, that's a part of my religion," replied Betty.  Tuchman and his CNN crew had been invited to the ranch to do a story on the hundreds of children who had been returned after this past spring's police raid.  The day after they spoke with 19-year-old Betty, the crew drove 45 miles from the ranch to attend a book signing.  Carolyn Jessop says she was forced to marry a 50-year-old man she despised when she was 18.  She has written a book called "Escape", in which she writes about her harrowing escape from the FLDS in 2003 with her eight children.  But in 2007, one of those children, a daughter, decided to go back.  In the book, Carolyn Jessop writes, "when she left, she promised to call, but none of us have been able to reach her by phone since her departure."  That child, is Betty.  Carolyn's ex husband and Betty's father is Merril Jessop. He's charged with presiding over an underage marriage. Jessop has pleaded not guilty. Carolyn says Betty is one of his 54 children.     Read more
Carolyn Jessop seizes opportunity to leave polygamist sect
The Kansas City Star
Originally published January 19, 2009

None of the practices seemed out of the ordinary to Carolyn Jessop.  The arranged marriages.  Men with two, three, four wives and dozens of children.  Jessop was a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  At 18, she was assigned by the religious group's prophet to become the fourth wife of 50-year-old Merril Jessop.  Soon enough she learned the true extent of what that meant for her.  Forced intimacy without love.  Serial pregnancies.  Vying with the other wives for resources.  Finally, at 35, she plotted her escape from the sect and its small towns on the Arizona-Utah border.  It was a dream she contemplated only if she also could secret away her eight children.  They were ages 18 months to 15 years and included a severely disabled son.  Jessop, who lives in West Jordan, Utah, will be in Kansas City Thursday to discuss her book, "Escape."  Here are excerpts from a phone conversation with her.

Q. Just to be clear, life in the FLDS was not something you chose, right?

A. The FLDS would be incredibly suspicious of anyone who wants to join. I was born into the sixth generation of polygamy. The FLDS is a way of life. The community I grew up in was incredibly isolated. There's no frame of reference for challenging anything you're taught.
Read more
The FLDS and Relational Aggression
By Elizabeth Bennett
Blogger News Network - USA
Originally published January 26, 2009

I am finally sitting down to blog again after flying across country last week and getting everything back in order again.  While I was away, I managed to pick up the book Escape by Carolyn Jessop.  Mrs. Jessop is a former member of the FLDS which is the Fundamentalist Church of Ladder Day Saints which is a strict Mormon belief system.  One thing I do not do is try and give others a hard time when it comes to their religion.  We all have our beliefs, grew up in different cultures and are entitled to these freedoms in this nation.  This book mentioned some disturbing things such as young teen girls marrying older men, men having several wives and children amongst some of them.  However, this will not be the focus of the blog entry here.  I have to commend this woman for taking her children out of this abusive environment and standing up to the FLDS culture.  If this were me in this situation, I would not have lasted a day.  There are so many horrific things occurring behind closed doors and it takes guts to speak out against these horrors.  A man by the name of Warren Jeffs who was considered the Prophet in the FLDS committed many crimes and abuses which led to several women escaping the cult and sharing their horror stories and Jeffs eventual prison sentence as these things were exposed.     Read more
FLDS ranch leader hit with child support demand
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 14, 2009

A best-selling author and the ex-wife of the leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch is demanding child support for their eight children.  In a petition filed in a Texas court, Carolyn Jessop is asking a judge to order Frederick Merril Jessop to pay child support, health insurance, private school expenses, day care, therapy, attorney's fees and other expenses.  "The children have been in the possession of petitioner (Carolyn Jessop) continually since the date the parties ceased living together," Carolyn Jessop's attorney, Natalie Malonis, wrote in court documents obtained by the Deseret News on Wednesday.  Two of Jessop's children, Arthur Jessop and Betty Jane Jessop, are over 18. Malonis wrote that in their case, Carolyn Jessop "is seeking only retroactive child support for the time prior to the children reaching the age of majority."  For Carolyn Jessop's 9-year-old son, who is disabled, she is demanding child support indefinitely.  "Petitioner requests the court to order (Frederick Merril Jessop) to obtain and maintain a life insurance policy payable to petitioner (Carolyn Jessop) for the benefit of the children to be applied toward respondent's support obligation under the child support order in the event of respondent's death," Malonis wrote.  Interestingly, Malonis was the court-appointed attorney for FLDS leader Warren Jeffs' daughter Teresa during a contentious court battle during the custody case involving 439 children from the Utah-based polygamous sect.  She attempted to depose Frederick Merril Jessop to glean information about the FLDS Church's financial situation as part of that case.     Read more
District Courts Calendar
Last Updated on: Friday, September 25, 2009

When:  Monday, September 28, 2009 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

3028 Schl. Co. In The Interest Of: Arthur, Petition for C/S N.Malonis/A.Hennington

Betty, Luanne, Patrick, Merril, Merrilee, Merril Harrison & Bryson Merril Jessop, Children
Tuesday News Update
Reported by: KLST
KSAN - KLST San Angelo
Originally published Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009




FLDS Child Support Care
Reported by: KLST
KSAN - KLST San Angelo
Originally published Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009



51st Judicial District (Schl. Co. Case)
District Courts Calendar
Last Updated on: February 1, 2010

When:  Thu Feb 18 2pm – 5pm Central Time

3028 Schl. Co. In The Interest of Jessop, Children Motion to Sign Order for C/S
Woman sues FLDS leader
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published February 22, 2010

SAN ANGELO, Texas — A member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Frederick Merril Jessop, owes about $170,000 in child support to a woman with whom he had eight children before she left the FLDS, the woman's attorney said.  Natalie Malonis, representing Carolyn Jessop, said the decision for child support was reached in September, although the order had not been put in writing.  A hearing was held Thursday so that 51st District Judge Barbara Walther could sign the order and enforce the child support payments rather than wait for the signatures of the FLDS member's attorneys.  "We made an oral agreement," Malonis said about the September hearing.  "The next step was a written order."  Malonis said that she wrote up the oral agreement in December but that she could not get the signature of the attorney for Frederick Merril Jessop.  "It's important because without that written order, we can't enforce the child support," Malonis said.  Frederick Merril Jessop, who lives at the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County, has been indicted on a third-degree felony for allegedly performing a marriage ceremony of a minor whose marriage the law prohibits.  He is scheduled for trial Oct. 11.  Frederick Merril Jessop's attorney, Amy Hennington, could not be reached for comment.     Read more
Books Every Woman Should Read: Carolyn Jessop's 'Escape'
By Lilit Marcus
The Gloss - b5media
Originally published Monday March 8, 2010

When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Blackmore became the fourth wife of a fifty-year-old man named Merril Jessop, who was a highly ranking member in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), better known as the polygamous Mormon offshoot community. She gave birth to eight children in fifteen years, one of whom was severely ill and required round-the-clock care. In the meantime, she coped with physical and sexual abuse, competition between Merril's increasing stable of wives, and mismanagement of household funds that often meant she had to scrounge for grocery money so that her kids could have something to eat for dinner. Considering everything that Carolyn Jessop endured as a "sister wife," it would have been easy for her to fall into victimhood. However, Mormon history is a history of pioneers, and Carolyn Jessop became one of them.

In 2003, she escaped the FLDS' Colorado City compound with all of her children and became the first woman to win custody of her children away from the cult. Her battle was far from easy – in addition to taking on the well-funded and lawyered-up FLDS, she had to deal with finding work, navigating social services, and supporting her family alone. Even some of Carolyn's own children told her that they wanted to go back to their father's home and get away from the sins of the secular world. But she continued, undaunted, knowing that new Colorado City prophet Warren Jeffs was a dangerous man who was making the already sheltered community an increasingly dangerous place to live, especially for women. Though Jessop had been raised in polygamy, she had still been able to have some freedoms, such as attending college and driving a car. As former prophet Rulon Jeffs (Warren's father) grew older and increasingly ill, his cunning and hateful son Warren stepped in to take control. He outlawed radio, television, secular schooling, books, and even the color red.
Read more
District Courts Calendar
Last Updated on: April 14, 2010

When:  Thu, April 15, 2pm – 5pm
Where:  Courtroom C - Judge Walther

3028 Schl. Co. In The Interest of Jessop, Children Order to Appear & Show Cause

N.Malonis/ A.Hennington
District Courts Calendar
Last Updated on: May 2, 2010

When:  Thu, May 20, 10am – 5pm
Where:  Courtroom C - Judge Walther

3028 Schleicher In Re: Jessop Children Motion for Enforcement / Show Cause

Author to share how she escaped extremist cult
Proposed legislation would increase statute of limitations for bigamy, change rules for child abuse investigations.
By Phil Cauthon
Lawrence Journal-World - Lawrence, Kansas
Originally published May 3, 2010

Carolyn Jessop's story is quite simply one of the most disturbing, yet inspirational life stories you'll ever read.  Of course, there's no way to boil it down into a something that fits in the newspaper — that's why she's written two books now, the second of which was just published, "Triumph: Life After the Cult, A Survivor's Lessons."   Jessop was a member of the Mormon sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). The sect made national TV news in April 2008 when the state of Texas raided the FLDS' Yearning for Zion ranch and took custody of some 460 children believed to be in danger from child abuse and illegal marriages, and a cache of firearms that included weapons capable of destroying tanks.  Jessop had fled the FLDS five years earlier.  She had been married to the leader of the Texas ranch, Merril Jessop — one of his seven wives at the time — and had eight kids.  In 2003, her oldest daughter was about to turn 14 — the age that she knew many of the FLDS girls were being married by the church.  She feared that once she was married off, she would not be able to protect her from abuse.  "My back was against the wall," Jessop says.  "It was a lose-lose situation for me. The best-case scenario was to try to escape, and if I could get to the authorities, there was the possibility that I might be able to protect my children."     Read more
Excerpt: 'Triumph' by Carolyn Jessop
Jessop Writes About Life After the Polygamist Sect
Good Morning America
ABC News
Originally published May 6, 2010

In "Triumph," Carolyn Jessop writes about growing up in a polygamist sect and her April 2003 escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jessop, 42, begins her story on April 3, 2008, when the church's Texas ranch was raided by law enforcement officials and she watched hundreds of children, some her own stepchildren, involved in a case that would unfold in the spotlight of the national media.  Read the excerpt below, and then head to the "Good Morning America" Library to find more good reads.

PART ONE Taking on the FLDS

The Raid

It was Thursday, April 3, 2008. I was home in West Jordan, Utah, folding laundry in my bedroom, when my cell phone rang.

"Carolyn, it's Kathy. Something is going on at the ranch. Law enforcement is at the gate, and the country road has been shut down."

Kathy Mankin and her husband, Randy, publish The Eldorado Success, the local newspaper in Eldorado, Texas, the town nearest to the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a $20 million compound spread across seventeen hundred acres in West Texas. The YFZ Ranch is owned and operated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the polygamous Mormon cult in which I'd spent my entire life until fleeing in April 2003. My ex-husband, Merril Jessop, had been running the ranch since becoming one of the highest-ranking men in the FLDS in 2006.

Kathy and Randy had been covering the FLDS since 2003, when the ranch was bought under false pretenses as a corporate retreat and lodge. On March 24, 2004, with the headline "Corporate Retreat or Prophet's Refuge?" the Mankins broke the news to the residents of Eldorado—a town of roughly two thousand residents, thirteen churches, three restaurants, and an aging motel — that their new neighbors were members of an extreme polygamous sect. Kathy and I had been in touch since 2006, when she called to find out what might be going on at the ranch and to broaden her knowledge of the FLDS. This time,though, her voice sounded urgent.

"Randy asked one of the law enforcement officers where they were all coming from, and he said they were coming in from everywhere," she told me. She said it was hard to get information because law enforcement was keeping the media out of the area. She was worried about an ugly showdown if the FLDS did not cooperate.     Read more
Carolyn Jessop on "Triumph"
Morning Show
KSAZ Fox 10 TV - Phoenix, Arizona
Originally broadcast May 18, 2010

Carolyn Jessop is one of the hundreds of women raised in the polygamist FLDS community of Colorado City, in northern Arizona.  When she was 18 years old, she married 50 year old Merrill Jessop and she was one of several wives.  After 17 years... she escaped polygamy with her eight children... driving them to safely in the dead of night.  Carolyn shared her dark and shocking story in her first book "Escape".  She has a new book called "Triumph".  Carolyn Jessop joined FOX 10 Arizona Morning Tuesday to talk about her new book.

Triump: Life After the Cult - A Survivor's Lessons
by Carolyn Jessop

book signing tonight:

Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S. McClintock Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85283
Morning Book Discussion Held At Bellville Library Branch
WMFD TV - North Central Ohio
Originally published June 1, 2010

The Morning Book Discussion Group at the Bellville Branch of the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library meets once a month to discuss various books.  Tuesday, they met to talk about the book, "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop.  Bellville Library Branch Manager Carolyn Applegate said the book is about the fundamentalist church and the polygamist relationship in marriages.  Applegate said it's a very relaxed discussion group who are very easy to talk to and everyone gets a chance to speak their mind about a book.  She said they've got about 16 members currently, and may start a second discussion group if more people are interested.
Carolyn Jessop
:Tuesday, June 8th:
Georgia Center for the Book
Originally published June 8, 2010

7:15 P.M., Decatur Library Auditorium

Two years ago we presented the young author of the best-selling true story Escape, who vividly recounted her dangerous, courageous and successful escape with her eight children from a forced polygamous Mormon marriage. Now Carolyn Jessop returns with a new book written with Laura Palmer, Triumph: Life After the Cult: A Survivor''s Lesson. In this book, she talks about her life in recent years and what she has learned since re-joining a non-fundamentalist society. Jessop's voice is a distinctive one as she relates her growth as a woman re-gaining her self-confidence in spite of the heart-wrenching events that have befallen her.     See photo
Carolyn Jessop Tells of Life After Cult
Good Day Atlanta
WAGA Fox 5 TV - Atlanta, Georgia
Originally broadcast June 8, 2010

Carolyn Jessop tells of her life after the FLDS cult - in "Triumph."  In 2003 she gathered her eight children and escaped in the middle of the night and detailed her story in the 2007 memoir "Escape."  Then in April 2008 she came back into the spotlight when the state of Texas staged a surprise raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch and called on her an expert in helping officials understand the culture of the cult.  Book signing at the Georgia Center for the Book Tuesday night in Decatur.
District Courts Calendar
Last Updated on: July 23, 2010

When:  Thu Aug 5 10am – 4pm

FLDS bishop's ex-wife gains 'victory'
$148K is set for child support
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published August 5, 2010

AN ANGELO, Texas — A protracted fight to extract child support from a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the recipient of the child support claiming a "victory."  Frederick Merril Jessop, the bishop of the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County, has signed an order guaranteeing that he will pay $148,000 in child support to his former wife Carolyn Jessop for care of their eight children.  "Seven years of non-child-support and Merril is finally responsible for his children," Carolyn Jessop said.  "It's a huge victory for every woman in the FLDS."  Randy Wilson, Frederick Merril Jessop's attorney, refused to comment after the hearing Thursday in the Tom Green County courthouse.  Willie Jessop, a spokesman for the FLDS, was present and he said he didn't like the way Carolyn Jessop's attorney, Natalie Malonis, who has in previous cases defended the FLDS, is now working against the sect.  "I think the unethics of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and Malonis of having inside information to then put them against the interest of the parents of the children show that they're carpetbag lawyers making money when it's in their best interest," Willie Jessop said.     Read more
FLDS leader to pay $148,000 in back child support
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Aug. 6, 2010

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) — A polygamist leader in West Texas has agreed to pay child support dating to 2003, when his then-wife left the sect with their eight children.  Frederick Merril Jessop, the bishop and leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch, signed the order in court Thursday.  He will pay his former wife $148,000 for seven years of back child support.  Natalie Malonis, Carolyn Jessop's attorney, said Friday that the bishop will pay $2,000 a month for the first six months and then $100 a month after that to cover the delinquent child support.  Frederick Merril Jessop also will pay $2,450 a month to stay current.  Carolyn Jessop chronicled her experiences as her husband's fourth wife and her departure from the FLDS Church in her best-selling book "Escape."  The FLDS Church broke away from the Mormon church, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.
FLDS leader to pay $148K in back child support
Associated Press Writer
Houston Chronicle
Originally published August 6, 2010

LUBBOCK, Texas — A polygamist leader in West Texas has agreed to pay child support dating to 2003, when his then-wife left the sect with their eight children.  Frederick Merril Jessop, the bishop of the Yearning for Zion Ranch, signed the order in court Thursday.  He will pay his former wife $148,000 for seven years of back child support.  Natalie Malonis, Carolyn Jessop's attorney, said Friday that the bishop will pay $2,000 a month for the first six months and then $100 a month after that to cover the delinquent child support.  Frederick Merril Jessop also will pay $2,450 a month to stay current.  Malonis said he only will pay about $90,000 because Carolyn Jessop received some of his Social Security after leaving the sect.  Carolyn Jessop did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press for comment Friday.  Willie Jessop, a sect elder, said Friday that he was grateful for closure in the case but took issue with the venue.  "The judge took jurisdiction over a case that was ongoing in Utah, and we object to that," he said.  Last September, State District Judge Barbara Walther ordered Frederick Merril Jessop to pay his former wife but he refused to sign the order and did not pay.  Then in February, Walther signed the order to compel him to pay the child support from September, Malonis said.  A couple of months after that, when money still had not been paid to Carolyn Jessop, Malonis filed a motion to have Frederick Merril Jessop jailed for contempt because of nonpayment.     Read more
Former FLDS member to speak at MSU
Ozarks News
The Springfield News-Leader - Springfield, Missouri
Originally published March 24, 2011

Carolyn Jessop, author of two memoirs about her life in, and departure from, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS), will speak at 7 p.m., March 29, in the the Plaster Student Union theater on the campus of Missouri State University.  The presentation is free and open to all students, faculty, and staff, as well as to the public.  She will discuss experiences that have caused her life to be seen as a model of courage and hope.  These experiences include marriage at 18; becoming the fourth wife of a community leader 32 years her senior; the ongoing relationship with her husband, as she gave birth to eight children and struggled with meeting their needs; relationships with the other wives; a growing awareness of life outside the community; and, following Jessop's departure, her battle to gain custody of the eight children.  The presentation, which will be followed by a question and answer session, illustrates the 2011 national Women's History Month theme "Our History is Our Strength," suggesting that people learn from the past in ordered to be engaged citizens in the present and future.  It is expected to spark discussion of a number of public affairs concerns, such as diversity, cultural competence, and ethical leadership as it touches upon questions of religious freedom, polygamy, spousal abuse, and child-rearing.  Jessop's presentation is being funded by a Missouri State University Public Affairs grant, and by the College of Humanities and Public Affairs, Gender Studies Program, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Psychology, Department of English, Department of Political Science, and Drury University Gender Studies program.  Jessop's books, Escape (Broadway 2007) and Triumph: Life After the Cult-A Survivor's Lessons (Crown 2010) will be available for purchase after the presentation.
Speaker opens eyes to suffering of women in polygamist cults
Written by Linda Leicht
The Springfield News-Leader - Springfield, Missouri
Originally published March 29, 2011

Carolyn Jessop is on a mission.  The 43-year-old mother of eight "escaped" from a polygamist compound eight years ago and is determined to open the public's eyes to the realities of a way of life that holds women powerless and children in peril.  "The crime is still happening, and children are still being hurt," she told a packed house at Missouri State University Tuesday night.  Jessop is the author of "Escape," which tells the story of her life in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and her escape from it, and "Triumph: Life After the Cult, a Survivor's Lessons."  After the petite, blonde woman with a quiet voice told the harrowing story of being forced at age 18 to become the fourth "wife" of a man of 50 and of ultimately escaping with her children, the crowd rose to their feet to applaud her.  "I thought it was phenomenal," said MSU senior Abby Barcomb of Springfield.  Although Barcomb had been interested in the topic of polygamy and aware of some of the things Jessop reported, she said, "Everything was shocking."  Ethan Couch, a sophomore from Cassville, attended the talk as part of an assignment for his ethics class.  He came away impressed. "(Polygamy) is not at all like I thought it would be," he said, admitting that his insights had only been from the television show "Sister Wives," a reality show focusing on one polygamist family.  "It sounded horrible."  Jessop described a life that surpasses horrible in many ways.  She came from six generations of FLDS polygamists, tracing her family back to the founder of the cult that broke away from the Mormon church in 1912.  She grew up knowing only a life that offered her no choices but to have children for the man the "prophet" of the group chose for her and face the possibility that those children could be taken from her at any moment.  "I was never allowed to experience anything else," she said.  "The mind control is very severe."     Read more
Former FLDS member Carolyn Jessop grateful for freedom
Recalls escape with 8 kids from husband, FLDS ranch
By Ami Mizell-Flint
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published August 22, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — When Carolyn Jessop escaped from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints in April 2003, she had no idea what the future would hold for her and her eight children.  "Fleeing the FLDS was like jumping off a cliff; I had no idea where I would land," Jessop wrote in the epilogue of her first book, "Escape."  It was a decision she never regretted.  "A lot of times you do things you would not normally do," she said in a recent interview, "but when your children are involved, you just do them."  The strength Jessop used to escape from the FLDS compound in Colorado City, Ariz., where she lived with her husband, Merril Jessop, her eight children, five sister wives, and dozens of stepchildren, also allowed her to thrive in the outside world.  The transition to life outside the FLDS was not an easy one, and she started it with her eight children in a shelter.  In "Escape," Carolyn describes attempts by her husband to turn her children against her during his early custody visitations.  Before Warren Jeffs' arrest in 2006, Merril Jessop, now in his late 70s, had risen to become one of the sect's most powerful leaders.  A year ago in Tom Green County Court, he was ordered to pay $148,000 in child support arrears to Carolyn Jessop and $2,450 per month in support of his children.     Read more
Nurylon Blackmore
The Spectrum
Originally published February 13, 2013

Nurylon Bistline Blackmore


Nurylon Bistline Blackmore, affectionately called Nonnie, died Saturday, February 9, 2013, after a battle with cancer.  She was 65.  Nurylon was born in Hildale, UT April 3, 1947, to John Anthony & Jenny Johnson Bistline.  She dedicated her life to her 13 children, 36 grandchildren & 14 great grandchildren.  She is survived by 12 children: Linda, Carolyn, Annette, Arthur, Claine, Darrel, Karen, Lydia, J.R., Carl, Jennifer & Winston.  She was preceded in death by her daughter Nurylon.  Funeral services will be held Friday, Feb. 15th at 1:00 pm at Holm Meeting House, 1065 N. Carling Street, Hildale.  There will be a viewing Thursday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 pm at Metcalf Mortuary, 288 W. St. George Blvd., St. George, and on Friday prior to services from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Holm Meeting House.  Interment will be at Isaac W. Carling Memorial Park in Colorado City, AZ.  Arrangements entrusted to the care of Metcalf Mortuary, (435) 673-4221.  Please visit our website at for condolences, complete obituary and funeral listings.

Published in The Spectrum & Daily News on February 13, 2013     See photo
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Read the Motion for Other Substituted Service to serve deadbeat dad Merril Jessop so he'll show up at court and finally start paying Carolyn Jessop overdue child support, filed in Schleicher County, Texas April 9, 2010

Read the Motion for Enforcement of Child Support Order and Order to Appear requiring deadbeat dad Merril Jessop show up at court to finally start paying Carolyn Jessop overdue child support, filed in Schleicher County, Texas March 9, 2010

Read the Application for Turnover Relief against deadbeat dad Merril Jessop and his attorneys Amy Hennington and Gerald Goldstein to turnover their retainers for legal services to Carolyn Jessop for overdue child support, filed in Schleicher County, Texas March 7, 2010

Read the Order for Child Support requiring deadbeat dad Merril Jessop to finally start paying Carolyn Jessop overdue child support, filed in Schleicher County, Texas February 18, 2010

Read the Letter from attorney Natalie Malonis to Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith regarding Carolyn Jessop and the Arizona trial of Warren Jeffs, dated November 16, 2009

Read the Court Transcript of the Motions Hearing regarding Carolyn Jessop's Petition for Child Support from Merril Jessop, held in Schleicher County, Texas September 29, 2009

Read the Court Transcript of the Testimony of Merril Jessop regarding Carolyn Jessop's Petition for Child Support, given in Schleicher County, Texas September 28, 2009

Read the Motion for Partial Continuance to Conduct Discovery regarding Carolyn Jessop's Petition for Child Support from Merril Jessop, filed in Schleicher County, Texas September 25, 2009

Read the Salt Lake City Court's Order on Petitioner's Motion for Admission Pro Hac Vice to allow Natalie Malonis to represent Carolyn Jessop in Utah in her Petition for Child Support from Merril Jessop, filed August 28, 2009

Read Carolyn Jessop's Petition for Child Support from Merril Jessop filed in Schleicher County, Texas May 13, 2009

Read Carolyn Jessop's Complaint to Establish Paternity and Request for Child Support from Merril Jessop filed in Salt Lake City, Utah May 6, 2003


Watch Carolyn on The Paula Gordon Show January 20, 2009


Watch Carolyn on The Paula Gordon Show January 20, 2009


Watch Carolyn's interview on It's Your Call with Lisa Doyle on August 12, 2008

Read part 1 of the Testimony of Carolyn Jessop given at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Crimes Associated with Polygamy: The Need for a Coordinated State and Federal Response" held July 24, 2008

Read part 2 of the Testimony of Carolyn Jessop given at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Crimes Associated with Polygamy: The Need for a Coordinated State and Federal Response" held July 24, 2008


Watch some of the live coverage from the US Senate hearing


Watch Carolyn's interview with Merry Lucero on the Arizona PBS show Horizon


Watch the Larry King Live interview broadcast on April 16, 2008


Watch some of Carolyn's presentation at the Tattered Cover book store in Denver on December 5, 2007

Watch the Good Morning America Show featuring Carolyn Jessop broadcast October 29, 2007

Hear the Interview with Carolyn Jessop by Sandra Haros for KTAR 92.3 FM
recorded November 26, 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona

Hear the Interview with Polygamist Wife Carolyn Jessop by Terry Ward for KJZZ 91.5 FM
recorded November 27, 2007 in Tempe, Arizona

Watch the Good Morning America Show featuring Carolyn Jessop broadcast October 29, 2007

Read the Mohave County Attorney Investigator Gary Engles' interview with LJ conducted June 28, 2007

Read the Mohave County Attorney Investigator Gary Engles' interview with MJ conducted June 28, 2007

Read the Mohave County Attorney Investigator Gary Engles' interview with PJ conducted June 28, 2007
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