Columns 2003

Polygamy and pedophilia seem to go hand in hand

I had just finished reading the book “Under The Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer when the article about George and Lisa Micheaux appeared on the front page of the Anchorage Daily News.

Krakauer’s book is about two brothers who belong to one of the many fundamentalist Mormon groups in Utah, Mexico and Canada that still practice polygamy.  These two brothers killed their sister-in-law and her 18-month-old daughter because, they claimed, God had told the older brother to do it. There is more than a little evidence to suggest that God told him to do this soon after his sister-in-law helped his wife flee from their abusive marriage.

In telling this story, Krakauer tells the story of polygamy in Mormonism and how these fundamentalist groups still openly practice polygamy in the United States. There are some who defend polygamy as a constitutionally protected religious practice.  This gray area of the law is what apparently keeps law enforcement officials from cracking down on any but the most egregious followers of the practice.

It wasn’t the issue of religious freedom, however, that caught my attention the most.  What caught my attention the most was the regularity in which second, third, fourth and fifth wives were the stepdaughters, nieces and other assorted relatives of the groom.  These extra wives were also almost all young girls somewhere between 14 and 16 who were taken out of school to be given in marriage to men who had, for many of the girls, been the father figure in their lives till they married them

The other thing that became glaringly obvious as the book progressed was the tremendous amount of physical, sexual and psychological abuse the women and young girls in these families endured.  Polygamy is a practice that can only be kept viable by indoctrinating women into it from birth. Then they are entangled even further into it by being impregnated at an early age so that they have neither the skills to survive on their own nor the community support needed to make the decision to get out of the relationship. Where do you go when you’re 20, have four kids, no job, no skills and no one in the family who will support your decision to get out?

The further I read into the book, two other things also became very obvious. In polygamy, women have again been reduced to chattel.  And polygamy is a wonderful breeding ground for pedophiles.  Every time they need a young victim, they take a new wife who already has children and just marry her daughters when they hit 14.

The whole book left me feeling sick and dirty.  Sick at the thought that this goes on in America and dirty from just the slime that seemed to ooze from the pages where these polygamous communities are described.

So you can imagine how I felt when I looked at the front page of the ADN on August 25 and found an article that must have sent joy through the heart of every pedophile in this state.  Finally someone was taking up their cause and showing that they are all just good guys who happen to like their women young. Finally someone was making it clear that these young women wanted it too.

Lisa was fifteen when George impregnated and married her. He grew her to be what he wanted.  She has no education.  No skills. Three kids.  And a husband who may soon be glancing longingly at his daughters.

Lisa’s explanation that she isn’t worried about losing him to a young woman because his three failed marriages were to women his age or older begs the question of why those marriages failed. Could it be because they were women and not the little girls he really longed for?

I don’t know what is in Lisa and George Micheaux’s future.  I can only hope that their children remain safe and that if they aren’t safe, their mother has the wisdom to figure it out and the ability to do something about it. I do know that trumpeting the triumph of a love between a 15-year-old girl and a 38-year-old man is trumpeting something that only questionably exists and makes me wonder where the paper’s editors were on the day that idea was pitched and approved.