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In 2007, a breakaway extremist offshoot of the Mormon Church called the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints made national news. Police raided an FLDS compound in Texas where they found hundreds of women and girls. The church's leader, Warren Jeffs, was sentenced to life plus 20 years behind bars for sexually assaulting children.
The star witness in Jeffs' trial was a young woman named Rebecca Musser. Musser grew up in the FLDS church, under the control of Warren Jeffs and his father, Rulon. When she was just 19 years old, she was forced to marry the 85-year-old Rulon. Following his death, Musser made the terrifying decision to escape from the church into an outside world she had been taught to fear.
Musser tells the harrowing story of her childhood, her marriage, and her eventual escape in her book, The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice. Musser told her story to NPR's Jacki Lyden.
On how her father came to be part of the FLDS church
My father was a businessman. He was not born and raised in the fundamentalist church, and he was converted to it. He had a wife and five children at the time of his conversion. A couple years later he married my mother for his second wife, and I am the fifth child of my mother. So I grew up in the middle of a very large family. Because of the situation with my father being in business, he was not open about the fact that he was a polygamist, and his second wife and her children lived in the basement of the house and his first wife lived in the upstairs of the house.
Written By: Rebecca Musser and M. Bridget Cookcontinue to source article at npr.org