ELDORADO, Texas — Women in a polygamist sect were taught that their fathers or husbands and the sect’s prophet had the right to direct every aspect of their lives, a former member testified Wednesday in the child sexual abuse trial of a current sect member.
“As a woman you have no direct connection to God,” said Rebecca Musser, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “Every area of our lives was directed by the church and their teachings.”
Musser left the church in 2002 and never lived at the Yearning For Zion Ranch, the site of a state raid in April 2008 that led to the trial of 38-year-old Raymond Jessop, who is accused of marrying an underage girl in the sect. Prosecutors asked Musser to talk about her experience in the FLDS and how church records are kept.
Jessop is the first man from the sect to face trial since the raid. The girl he is accused of marrying when she was 15 had been “reassigned” to Jessop from his brother, according to records seized by authorities.
Musser, who was once married to Jeffs’ elderly father and later testified against Jeffs at his trial in Utah, said Jeffs kept detailed accounts of his interactions with FLDS members because he believed God would hold him accountable.
“He is to teach and govern the people and record it all, because in their culture, he has to answer to God,” she said. “Every area of our life was governed by the dictates of the prophet.”
Besides Jeffs’ teachings, other records outlining family trees, marriages and baptisms also were carefully kept because the FLDS believe they’ll be needed to receive credit in heaven, Musser said.