Ex-Polygamist Speaks Out To Southeast Texans

CBS KFDM TV News/January 15, 2010

It was a way of life for Irene Spencer.

For decades she was married to a man who eventually had as many as ten wives at the same time.

Spencer left that religious sect years ago and has since become a New York Times best selling Author.

Spencer has family in orange and is eager to share her story with people in Southeast Texas.

Ashley Gaston reports.

"I think my favorite chapter is when my husband married his 8th wife on the 1st wife's anniversary," said Irene Spencer.

Spencer says she is now able to find some humor in the polygamist life she left behind.

"This is 8 of the 10 wives right there, there I am pregnant," said Spencer

The 76 year old is looking at pictures published in her first book...A New York Times Best Seller ... shattered dreams.

"It was another life, something I can't even believe, so far fetched and stupid, I wonder how I got caught up in it," said Spencer.

Spencer was born into what is referred to as Fundamentalist Polygamy in Salt Lake City, Utah.

At 16 Spencer married Verlan Lebaron, she was his second wife. This is a picture of them in 1960. By 1968 Verlan had 8 wives and dozens of children.

"He would sleep with another woman and then I'd go cry and be so unhappy, then you have to meet him the next morning for breakfast and smile...and think that life was great and wonderful;" said Spencer.

Spencer says polygamists teach the only way a woman can go to heaven is through her husband and the only way for the husband to become a prophet is through multiple wives and children.

"It's when he married the 10th wife that I realized I worried about going to hell all the time, but all of a sudden you wake up and you realize you are in hell;" said Spencer.

That's when Spencer took 7 of her children to Las Vegas and started over at age 40.

"Women have to be empowered and be all they can be they'll not put up with abuse and not sit by and watch their children be abused, they'll be able to do something with their lives," said Irene Spencer.

Irene says the second half of her life has been much better. She is devoted to her current husband of more than 20 years and says the best thing is... she doesn't have to share him with anyone else.

Irene has 123 grandchildren and 63 great grand children. She has two children who continue to live the polygamist lifestyle.

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