Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison after being convicted of raping two underage girls, and former members of his church are speaking out about the abuse they suffered in the cult in an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper.
Elissa, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was forced to marry a 19-year-old when she was only 14 and recalled the harrowing experience for Cooper.
“It was so devastating that even in the ceremony itself I'm crying to such a level that my wedding dress is soaked. They had my mother stand next to me and hold my hand just to get me to take my vows,” she said of the traumatic event.
Cooper asked if anyone tried to help her, or stop her from marrying the guy and she said no, and explained that her family had no ability to stop the marriage, and that her father was no longer in the picture at that time.
“Before my marriage had been commanded, we had been taken away from my father and he didn't fight for us. We were given to another man’s children. My mother was resold to another man. And my mother didn't have the ability to say no. The women, especially my mother in the position we were at, they don't have the ability to protect their children. I was a representation of that. She couldn't step up and say no, my daughter is 14.”
Also on the show is Wallace Jeffs, Warren’s half brother, who says that he has left the cult and has three of his daughters living with him, but he is worried about the kids he had to leave behind.
“I'm very concerned. Very concerned about them getting married underage, being abused,” he told Cooper.
Jeffs said he still is religious, but shuns his brother’s ways. “I believe in the faith, but I don't believe in Warren Jeffs as the prophet. He's a fraud.”
Anderson Cooper’s interviews with the former cult members airs Thursday, September 22.