Young wife of polygamist seeks leniency at husband’s sex crimes sentencing today
KINGMAN, Ariz. – Declaring she loves her husband and is not a victim, the young woman at the heart of a sexual abuse case against a polygamist is asking a judge for leniency at the Colorado City man’s sentencing today.
“It is hard for me to imagine that Kelly is really convicted when I, the alleged ‘victim,’ am as happy as ever,” the woman wrote to Superior Court Judge Steven F. Conn on July 23. “I have no complaints against him. I never have.”
Kelly Fischer, a construction contractor, was 34 when he was assigned his 16-year-old stepdaughter as a plural wife by Warren S. Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The sect, based in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., is a breakoff of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which abandoned polygamy in 1890 as a condition of statehood.
On July 7, a Mohave County jury found Fischer guilty of two class 6 felony sex crimes – sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. In Arizona, it is a class 6 felony to engage in sexual activity with a minor who is under the age of 18.
“It is quite interesting to me how the state of Arizona keeps trying to convince me that I am a victim,” the woman wrote to Conn. “A victim of what? My own choices in life that I have never regretted?”
She asked Conn not to impose a jail sentence and to consider dropping the charges against Fischer.
“The children need their father; I need my husband,” she wrote. “It would break our hearts to see our loving Father and companion go to jail or prison. It would be a great hardship upon us to have to be without him, for he greatly encourages and builds up all of us.”
Her letter was one of 132 letters written to the judge by Fischer’s family, friends and neighbors. The Salt Lake Tribune is not naming her because the newspaper generally does not identify victims of sex crimes.
Now 39, Fischer is scheduled to be sentenced on the two sex crimes this afternoon. The judge has the option of sentencing Fischer from four months to two years in prison or placing him on probation for that time.
Witnesses described the young woman sitting beside Fischer in a truck, and said that was a sign that she was a favored wife. They described couples married within hours on Jeffs’ orders.
The woman attacked both areas of testimony in her letter.
She sat next to Fischer “mostly due to that fact that my mother is big and tall, which made it very uncomfortable for her to sit in the middle, thus I was blessed with the coveted position,” she wrote.
She added: “You were told that the young women of our community are forced or pressured into marriage; I am a living witness that this is not true. This conspiracy nonsense is just that, it is nonsense.”
She also told the judge: “I am very happy in my life. I am at the bloom of my life, I am young and talented. I love my husband more than anyone else. I love my children; they are dearer to me than my very life.”
The young woman did not testify. Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith relied on testimony from former members of the polygamous sect about how marriages occur and the 2001 birth certificate of the woman’s first child to show a crime had occurred.
The other men are: Dale Evans Barlow, 48; Rodney H. Holm, 39; Donald R. Barlow, 49; Vergel Bryce Jessop, 46; Terry Darger Barlow, 24; Randolph J. Barlow, 33; and David Romaine Bateman, 49.
Donald R. Barlow is up next, with his trial currently set for Aug. 15.
Jeffs is wanted on the same Arizona charges, as well as a Utah count of rape as an accomplice, for his alleged role in performing underage marriages. Jeffs has not been seen publicly in nearly two years and in May the FBI placed him on its “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives list.
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