Jeffs’ victory in the Utah Supreme Court, however short lived it may be (Texas and the feds are eagerly awaiting in the wings), has bolstered Jeffs and his followers across Utah, Texas, Arizona, and British Columbia. But it will also have a chilling effect on other potential victims, says the woman who was the victim in Jeffs’ case.
“This puts the power back in Warren’s hands tenfold,” said Elissa Wall, who was 14 when she first married.
In a phone interview from her Utah home, Wall, now 24, said she fears the impact on children inside the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who may be looking for help.
While I’m no expert on domestic abuse or on the wrongs of polygamy as practiced, I do recognize the conundrum that exists and is inherent to the justice system. By requiring a retrial, the victims of polygamy may become fearful that they cannot speak out, for fear that those victimizing them will not be held accountable. While an attorney may understand that the legal system often requires, for the purposes of fairness and justice, that there are retrials, the outside observer may not, but may see this as a failure of the justice system to protect the victim.
So on one side we have the victim, seeking the protection of the state. On the other side is the accused, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not of public opinion. And there is a third-party, if indirectly, in that society as a whole has rights and interests, in seeing that criminals are taken off the street, etc. And it is the job of the prosecutor, judge, and defense attorneys to uphold all three, each for their own part.
But where is the balance leaned in a case like this? Will victims be afraid to speak out as a result of the Utah Supreme Court’s ruling?
In the short-term, Jeffs’ faces, as mentioned before, extradition to Texas where he faces statutory rape charges for raping one of his own child wives. But in his role as spiritual advisor, how many women have been victimized by his complicity in granting marriage to an older male, against the wishes of the younger, usually teenage, woman? Will his retrial encourage the practice to continue?
(Thanks to USA Today)
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