Key witness in FLDS trials spoke out 'for those who have no voice'

Former sister wife details 'constant state of fear' at FLDS ranch

Desert News, Utah/April 11, 2012

It wasn't so important that one polygamous wife of many had escaped, she said. "He was terrified of what I knew, of what I had seen. Raised to believe the outside world would harm her "not if, but when," Musser found herself with "hair down to here," she said, gesturing below her waist. She didn't know how to drive, she'd never used makeup, she didn't know how to fit in.

"It was a brutal transition at best," she said.

But for the first time in her life she had the power to decide to cut her hair, the power to build her own life — even the power to simply wear the color red, which Warren Jeffs had outlawed among the FLDS people. In celebration of that power to have her own voice, Musser appeared Wednesday dressed in a bright red dress and bright red high heels.

Still seeking her new life, she couldn't forget her sisters and sister wives she'd left behind, Musser told the audience.

She couldn't forget her 14-year-old younger sister, Alyssa Wall, forced into marriage and rape. Musser first testified against Warren Jeffs during the 2007 trial in St. George, when he was convicted of rape as an accomplice for marrying Wall and her cousin.

"I could not deny those I'd left behind," she said. "They deserved to know what respect was."

Following the 2008 raid of the church's YFZ Ranch in Texas, Musser helped police and prosecutors decipher seized records and understand the sect's culture. Providing such assistance and testifying became her way of giving those women and girls a voice.

But those trials came with their own trials for Musser. The Texas attorney general had obtained the use of a 7,000-acre ranch and hunting lodge to provide security for witnesses. In those confines, the wait for the trials to begin seemed endless, and her anger and frustration built up.

"I was a heaping pile of (ticked) off," she said.

One day she slipped past the security, found a big rock and began to cry and cry, "shedding tears like acid" that burned her face.

"Why did I have to be the one to hold these men accountable?" she asked. Her tears all cried out, an awe and a hush, a sense of wonder and peace settled over her, and she said she clearly heard a voice speaking to her.

"Do not ask, 'Why me?'" the voice said. "Instead ask, 'Show me.'"

She understood she had to go forward and it would work out.

"I was not there for me," Musser said of the trials. "I was speaking for other people."

She testified for those she loved who were still in the faith, many who were attending the trial, "looking at me as if I were Satan's child."

"I could speak truth from a place where I could recognize my humanity and my divinity," Musser said. "It was never about the convictions. I was there to be a voice to someone who had no voice."

In a hushed tone, Musser challenged the audience, "I invite you to ask that difficult question, to ask 'show me.' ... You will become open to possibilities. ... The tools will be placed in your path.

"What have you been telling yourself that you cannot do and be?"

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