House of Yahweh Elder on Trial
Testimony from a 15-year-old girl revealed new details Friday about the allegations of sexual assault of a child by a House of Yahweh elder.
The girl, 11 at the time of the alleged assault, testified that her stepfather Yedidiyah Hawkins, 40, used a vaginal speculum — a medical instrument used by gynecologists — to perform an examination on her. Though the victim was identified in court proceedings, it is the policy of the Reporter-News not to name victims of sexual assault.
Prosecutor Shane Deel told the jury during opening statements that Hawkins purchased the speculum from a sex toy Web site that specializes in bondage items and that he had it mailed from Oregon to arrive by Jan. 31, 2005, when the assault is alleged to have occurred.
The girl told the jury that Hawkins said he wanted to check her for cervical cancer, but later witnesses testified that Hawkins has no medical training. Lisa Thornton, a former House of Yahweh member, testified that Hawkins was worried the girl was no longer a virgin. According to testimony, several people were told of the assault, including sect members who were described as judges. They did nothing to help, the girl said, and no law enforcement agency was contacted because that is against Yahweh rules.
“They told us law enforcement is bad, that they’ll take you away,” the girl testified.
The girl was placed in foster care last October.
Rachel Hawkins, who has three children with Yedidiyah Hawkins, testified that she found a set of homemade wooden stirrups, a condom and a bottle of lubricant under her bed when she returned home. After discussing her findings with other people, Rachel Hawkins said, she concocted a scheme to get Hawkins to admit to the assault by telling him she had video cameras in her home.
Yedidiyah believed her and repeatedly called her, telling her he would do anything to get the tapes back, Rachel Hawkins testified.
Rachel said that she recorded Yedidiyah admitting to the crime but that the recording was later erased by a House of Yahweh elder. She also alleged that Hawkins had used a speculum to examine her in December 2005 — a month before the alleged incident with the girl.