The 16-year-old girl -- pregnant for a second time and possibly suffering from three broken ribs -- who alerted Texas authorities to raid a polygamist compound wanted to escape and save her younger sister from the same fate, court documents have revealed.
The girl, whispering into a cell phone late at night so she would not be overheard, was apparently terrified to be caught. But by the end of her final phone call to a family violence shelter, she broke down crying and tried to get counselors to forget what she had said.
"She began crying and then stated that she is happy and fine and does not want to get into trouble and that everything she had previously said should be forgotten," court documents stated.
It is a picture of a young cult member afraid of being caught talking to the outside world and also afraid of the outside world.
Police are still trying to determine whether she is one of the 416 children taken from the Yearning for Zion Ranch this weekend.
In a series of hushed calls from a cell phone that wasn't hers, the girl told family violence counselors how she had been forced into a "spiritual marriage" with a 50-year-old man who had six other wives and would force himself on her sexually.
She said the man "would beat and hurt her whenever he got angry." When he would choke her or hit her in the chest, "another woman in the home held her infant child," the court documents stated.
Carolyn Jessup, a former wife of the leader of the group, who escaped with her eight children years ago, explained that this kind of abuse was the norm on the same compound where she used to live.
"If he's abusing one of their sister-wives, they view that as, well, she's really wicked or evil, he needs to do that or she'll corrupt our family. They're very supportive of it," Jessup said.
The court affidavit said the teen told authorities that "… on a previous occasion, the man had beaten her so severely that it resulted in her having several broken ribs." She said the most recent attack occurred Easter Sunday.
The frantic teenager told counselors she was the mother of an 8-month-old infant and she believed she was several weeks pregnant with another child. Documents describe her pleading for help, explaining "she was being held against her will at the YFZ Ranch and church members had told her that if she tried to leave, she will be found and locked up."
She had plotted an escape from the ranch by faking an illness so she could be driven to a hospital in the "outsiders' world," but her plan was foiled when ranch leaders told her that "she would not be allowed to take her infant child with her unless the child was also sick," the documents stated.
The affidavit also suggests that the girl made the phone call in part because she wanted to spare her younger sister. She told counselors that her parents, who did not live at the compound, were preparing to send her 15-year-old sister to the ranch.
Jessup and the court indicated that the frightening conditions endured by the teenager is the norm at the remote ranch where girls are taught that refusing to have sex with a man is a sin.
"I was taught when I was very young by my grandmother that there were a number of spirits chosen to come as my children and if I deprive them the right to come, that I would be condemned for it. The way they view the concept is if a man views a wife worthy to have a child with, and she rejects him that's a sin unto death," Jessup said.