Stolen Innocence

Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall

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Authors: Elissa Wall
1998 when he took us one step closer to Judgment Day with a startling announcement: he was closing Alta Academy, and his father was selling the property. Together they would relocate to the prophet’s other home in southern Utah. The year 2000 was rapidly approaching, and soon Zion would be redeemed in the new millennium. They began requiring select families in Salt Lake to move with them to southern Utah, so that our people would be united and “lifted up” to heaven when the end of the world came.
    This directive tapped into one of the most fundamental aspects of our religion. “Time is short” had long been a kind of mantra for the leaders of the church. For years, the people had been instructed to stay worthy and prepare because the end of the world was near. We believed that any day destruction would cover the land and only the pure and righteous would be saved. Everyone who was not a “worthy” member was wicked and would not be saved. If we were not faithful in the prophet’s eyes, we would be left behind to be destroyed.
    That May, the final graduating class at Alta Academy walked out the doors of the building and the school was closed for the last time. Through the summer, Michelle’s husband, Seth Jeffs, and several other church followers worked diligently to copy and distribute the school’s curriculum, so that families who stayed in the Salt Lake Valley could homeschool their children. Over the next few years, more and more families were commanded to make the three-hundred-mile move. The communities of Hildale and Colorado City became flush with an influx of people.
    Despite Uncle Rulon’s declining health, everyone in the FLDS believed he would live for hundreds of years, even after he suffered a stroke in the summer of 1998. As one of Uncle Rulon’s wives, my sister Kassandra was living in his home when the stroke occurred and was one of a few people who knew the reality of his condition. Kassandra later told me Rulon was at his compound in Hildale attending a family gathering when he was found slumped forward in a chair. Thinking he had just dozed off, those around him left him alone until they realized something was terribly wrong. Uncle Rulon was carried to his room, and Warren was contacted immediately.
    When Warren arrived in Short Creek, the paramedics were called and it was determined that Uncle Rulon had suffered a stroke. Later Kassandra was with Rulon at the hospital where tests were run to determine what part of the brain had been affected and how severely. Initially, Rulon did not remember any of his wives or the other familiar faces around him, reverting instead to the memories of his childhood.
    As Uncle Warren came to see the extent of his father’s impairment, he began directing his father’s care and regulated the people who had access to him. Nothing would happen to Uncle Rulon without Warren’s knowledge and approval. To justify his behavior, Warren led Rulon’s wives to believe that as the prophet’s son, he would have heavenly inspiration concerning those who were “faithful” enough to be in Uncle Rulon’s presence. Someone who did not have enough of the “Spirit of God” would hinder his recovery process. Warren even controlled which wives were faithful enough to room with the prophet after his return home from the hospital.
    As Uncle Rulon’s conditioned stabilized and started to improve, Warren arranged to have him taken back to Salt Lake City so that he could oversee the recovery until the family’s move to Short Creek. Concerned over how the people would receive the news of his father’s deteriorating health, Warren continued to monitor access to the prophet, directing all the women in the house not to permit anyone to see Uncle Rulon, instructing “We cannot let these people see the extent of Father’s stroke.”
    Shortly after Uncle Rulon returned to Salt Lake City, there was to be a monthly priesthood meeting at Alta Academy attended by some of the most

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