First anonymous witness for FLDS testifies at polygamy hearing

By Daphne Bramham,
Vancouver Sun

January 25, 2011

VANCOUVER — Witness 2 shocked a polygamy hearing Tuesday when she talked about how she finally agreed to allow her 15-year-old daughter to marry a 19-year-old man.

The reason she didn’t attempt to stop it? The marriage was monogamous and the groom was only 19.

Two years after the marriage, her daughter left the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The daughter is now 26, still married and the mother of two children.

Witness #2 was the first of three anonymous witnesses testifying for the FLDS in the constitutional reference case to determine the validity of Canada’s polygamy law being heard in B.C. Supreme Court.

Had the marriage been a polygamous one, the witness said she would not have consented since the witness herself was married as a second wife at 16.

The witness under cross-examination said she agreed to the monogamous marriage because it was preferable that her 15-year-old daughter married a man close to her own age and who she cared for than an older man who lived in a polygamous community in the United States.

In British Columbia, the legal age of marriage is 18. Anyone under 18 must have parental consent.

Even though it was a monogamous marriage and the girl’s parents consented, the couple married in a religious – not a civil – ceremony. The witness refused to say who officiated at the ceremony.

Because of an early ruling guaranteeing FLDS witnesses anonymity so that they can avoid future prosecution, Witness 2 testified in a courtroom where only Chief Justice Robert Bauman, FLDS lawyer Robert Wickett, the clerk and court reporter could see her. Other lawyers and the public only heard her voice as they watched a live feed on a closed circuit television in another courtroom.

Witness 2 told the court that she was raised in a polygamous family in Bountiful, B.C. Her father had five wives, although only three of them and their children shared a house while she was growing up. Still, it was a full house with “30 children approximately” living there at the time.

In her 40s now, she married at 16 to a man chosen by the church’s prophet. She became his second wife and a “sister-wife” to her biological sister. At times, the wives have lived in separate houses, but currently their share a home with their husband. Each has her own kitchen and laundry space, but they share the living room, recreation and yard. Both work outside the home.

The witness told the court that she considers her husband to be her “priesthood head,” which she explained means that he is “someone of a godly nature.”

Asked if she obeys him, she replied: “As long as he is acting in a Christ-like way . . . As far as my relationship with my husband, we are working together as parents in a family to raise our children and share values and goals to raise them in a Christ-like manner.”

The witness has nine children ranging in age from seven to 26. Three have left the FLDS.

Asked the circumstances of her marriage, she said she wanted to go to college and her father, mother and the church’s prophet said that it would be better if she were married first. She said she didn’t object and that her husband was a great support to her while she completed her training to be a registered nurse and a midwife.

“A few months before I married I talked to my father about wanting to go to college to become a nurse,” she said in her affidavit.

“He said he believed it wise to be married before college as he didn’t want worldly influences to pressure me from my faith, I decided that I would marry and then go to college.”

Her father gave her the name of the individual that the church leader had suggested and told her she could refuse.

“I told him that I did not know him well, but that I believed he was a member in good standing in the church and I did want to marry him. We were married three months later.”

dbramham@vancouversun.com

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/First+anonymous+witness+FLDS+testifies+polygamy+hearing/4164916/story.html

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