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Posted 27 Aug 2001   For week ended August 24, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Aug01

By Kent Larsen

Teen Girls Fleeing Polygamous FLDS Church While Green Children Seek Leniency for Father

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- An associated press article appearing in newspapers around the nation today tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who has walked away from the largest polygamous group, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the same time that a Reuters article reports that polygamist Tom Green's wife and children are pleading for his return to the family ahead of his sentencing Friday. Caroline Cooke says she now feels free living on her uncle's Colorado farm, and the anti-polygamy groups supporting her are calling for a 14-year-old, Ruby Jessop, to be released by the Hilldale, Utah-based FLDS Church because she is being held against her will.

Cooke left the FLDS Church about four months ago and soon made changes prohibited by the group. She cut her hair from knee-length to an above-the-shoulder bob and traded her full-length dresses for sleeveless shirts and shorts. "I just feel free. I get to listen to music, to watch TV, to look on the Internet. For the first time in my life I get my own room," said Cooke.

She says that life within the FLDS community was strict, and that community leaders planned to marry her to a man three times her age who already had more than a dozen wives. The leaders had learned about her secret 18-year-old boyfriend, who was then kicked out of the FLDS Church. But, she says, girls have a much more difficult time leaving the Church, "They want as many girls as they can get," she said.

Now, Cooke will return to school for the first time since sixth grade, and she will have a very different experience, since she was only educated in schools run by polygamists. While her decision to leave means that she is estranged from her parents and 26 brothers and sisters, she has no regrets.

Cooke isn't the only girl to leave. Flora Jessop is trying to save her 14-year-old sister, Ruby Jessop, from a forced marriage to her stepbrother. Flora says her sister is being held against her will after Ruby was caught in an innocent kiss with a childhood sweetheart. The FLDS Church then married her to the stepbrother against her will and kept her from contacting her sister.

Anti-polygamy activists are now circulating a petition, based at a website Flora has set up, seeking 11 million signatures asking for Ruby to be freed. The website, located at, gives Flora's version of Ruby's story.

Meanwhile, the wives and children of polygamist Tom Green have asked Judge Guy Burningham, who will sentence Green on Friday, to let him off without jail time. The family sent letters, including poignant letters from some of Green's young children, asking for leniency in his case. "Please don't put our father in prison," wrote 10-year-old Lorin Green. "We really need him. We love him very much. He needs to take care of us." Wife Linda Green echoed the sentiment, "Tom's children are very close to him. I believe they would suffer emotionally and mentally by his being taken away. I worry that our children will learn to disrespect government for generations to come because of having their father sent to prison for his religious beliefs."

Another wife, Cari Bjorkman Green, asked the judge to "search your heart" and asked if society is really better off "with this father, husband and teacher locked away?" Also included were letters from the family doctor, school officials and a scout leader.


Teen girls fleeing Utah sect to avoid polygamy
(Phoenix) AZ Republic (AP) 22Aug01 N5
Associated Press

Utah Bigamist's Wives, Kids Ask Judge for Leniency
Yahoo!News (Reuters) 21Aug01 N5
By James Nelson


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