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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Former under-age polygamous bride tells all in book

Elissa Wall launched the case against Warren Jeffs
By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune

Months after helping to send Warren S. Jeffs to prison, Elissa Wall is telling her story in a book she hopes will lead women and girls to leave his polygamous sect. Stolen Innocence debuts amid a child custody battle in Texas involving the polygamous lifestyle and marriage practices of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints...

... Wall covers the same ground laid out in her testimony during Jeffs' trial about her failed efforts stop her marriage to Steed and the miserable months and years that followed.

Wall describes Steed as boorish and odd; she was disturbed that he put clear polish on his fingernails and was put off by his constant sexual advances. Wall writes that she and Steed fought often and "he'd slap me or push me up against the wall."

Working at a restaurant in 2003, she met Lamont Barlow, with whom she eventually started an affair that led her to leave her husband and the sect.

Wall writes that she was encouraged by her sister, Rebecca Musser, and a brother - identified as "Kassandra" and "Craig" in the book - and Lamont Barlow's uncle, Jethro Barlow, in 2005 to meet with law enforcement.

"They were working hard to remove Warren from power, and I was viewed as someone who could help them," Wall writes.

But Jeffs' conviction seems to have had little effect on the FLDS, Wall said.

"To my disappointment," she writes, "little has changed in the community, and life continues on much as it did under Warren."

Attorneys for Jeffs and Steed had not yet seen Stolen Innocence but are worried about its effect.
"It is obvious that Ms. Wall has determined that obtaining publicity is more important than Mr. Steed obtaining a fair trial," said Jim Bradshaw, a Salt Lake City attorney who represents Steed.
Michael Piccarreta, an Arizona attorney representing Jeffs, said he sought to have the book delayed until after his client's trial but never got a response.

"She will be the one witness in the courtroom with a financial interest," Piccarreta said, adding that, "It will be difficult if not impossible to get a jury for a fair trial."

Hoole, who also is representing Wall in a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Jeffs and the FLDS church, called those worries nonsense.

The book "doesn't change any of the facts," Hoole said. "Nobody on the jury will have read this book" - meaning that any potential jurors who are familiar with the book will be disqualified from the panel.

Hoole said Wall, now 21, is trying to empower other FLDS girls. "I personally hope that every FLDS girl gets a copy," he said.

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