Teen who escaped polygamists settles into normal life

After nearly three months on the run, Fawn Broadbent is more than ready to get back to typical teen life: school, hanging out, thinking about boys.

On Monday, Fawn, 17, became the legal ward of Carl John and Joni Holm of Sandy, who petitioned for her custody after she left the polygamous enclave of Colorado City, Ariz.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” she said. “Now I can go out without worrying someone will recognize me.”

The other teen who fled with Fawn, 16-year-old Fawn Holm, Carl John’s younger sister, remains in hiding. Her parents, Carl and Esther Holm, want their daughter returned to them. A custody hearing is scheduled for early July in Phoenix.

“The only thing they’re claiming is they don’t want her here because we’re apostates,” said Joni Holm, who also is petitioning for Fawn Holm’s custody. Carl John Holm left Colorado City at 16.

The two teens said they ran from their homes after rejecting the fundamentalist lifestyle followed by most residents. Colorado City and its twin, Hildale, Utah, are home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Followers adhere to a 19th century version of Mormonism that includes plural marriage.

The teens said they were slated for early marriage, something their parents deny. Such fears led them to flee, first to St. George and then, with the help of child activist Flora Jessop, to Phoenix. They initially lived with one of Jessop’s supporters, but ran again in mid-February, believing Arizona authorities were trying to reunite them with their families.

They stayed with members of an underground railroad, moving between several states as their parents and Carl John and Joni Holm and Arizona authorities battled over their custody. During that time, the girls were interviewed by reporters several times and have been approached to be on “Oprah.”

Mathew and Katherine Broadbent said early on that they would abide by their daughter’s wishes to relocate to Sandy, and late last week an Arizona judge made Carl John and Joni Holm her legal guardians. Fawn Broadbent moved in with the Holms on Saturday.

“We’re not trying to force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do,” said Mathew Broadbent. “We just want her to be happy and we love her.” He also said he was “thankful” she was with the Holms, saying it was “a lot better than what she could have been in.”

“I appreciate them doing it,” Fawn said, adding she had spoken to her mother on Mother’s Day.

This weekend, she will travel to Colorado City to pick up her belongings.

“We’re going to try and get her some schooling, get her caught up,” said Joni Holm. Fawn has not been in school since about eighth grade, but hopes one day to be a fashion designer.

She also plans to get a job — and a boyfriend.

In the months Fawn Broadbent has been in hiding, she said another of her siblings — 15-year-old Rulon — also has left home, the fifth child in the family to abandon the lifestyle. A younger sister of Fawn Holm is rumored to have married within the community.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Salt Lake Tribune, USA
May 11, 2004
Brooke Adams
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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday May 12, 2004.
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