Jessops Behind Bars

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Merrill Jessop, a leader in the FLDS community and top dog at the YFZ Ranch, may not be in prison, but two of his namesakes have been arrested, along with three other patriarachs, with bail set at $100,000 each. Raymond Merrill Jessop allegedly assaulted a minor in 2004, and Merrill Leroy Jessop took an ingénue to wife in 2006. After hearing Merrill Jessop's fifth wife, Carolyn, talk about her husband in her book, Escape, I'm amazed that the Jessops try to make marriage work with anyone, let alone a plural marriage to girls who are effectively children! Carolyn reports that sex between fundamentalists is awkward and functional-that they must work around layers of unshed clothing and that sensual pleasure doesn't enter the equation.

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Sex in the FLDS world seems to be about something other than romance. According to Carolyn, Merrill didn't care much for anyone but his dominant wife, and his other plural wives accused him of being "a monogamist" (a vituperation in polygamous sectors). So sex in FLDS sectors mainly functions as a means of gathering power and begetting children. If Carolyn's reports are true, Merrill has built an ongoing nightmare, where wives quarrel bitterly in homes rife with manipulation and backbiting. The children, of course, bear the brunt of their parents' errors and indulgences. Meanwhile, the Jessop boys are behind bars, struggling to keep their own virtue and hoping they won't get married to the guy with the most cigarettes. And that wouldn't be about romance either, would it?

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