Young Woman Escapes Polygamous Cult

KHNL TV News/July 26, 2006

Sunset Beach, Oahu (KHNL) -- A young woman who says she escaped life in a religious cult received a special reward today - surfing lessons on Oahu's North Shore.

Fawn Broadbent says she was never supposed to learn how to surf. For most of her life - she thought she wouldn't learn much at all.

"I was alive physically, but inside i was dead. And when I left I was able to come back and experience freedom, choices, says Fawn Broadbent."

Fawn grew up in Colorado City Arizona - home to a polygamous religious sect. Flora Jessop left Colorado City at age 16. She says she wanted to escape a life where men have many wives and women are used only to produce children.

"I have 27 siblings and over 300 step siblings. My mother had 17 children herself" says Flora Jessop.

Flora helped Fawn leave Colorado City two years ago and gave her a fresh start.

"She came out of there with a fifth grade education. Education is denied, it's forbidden."

The promise of Hawaii's sun and surf motivated Fawn to study hard and adjust to a new life.

"She was promised, okay if you graduate high school, you'll get a trip to Hawaii."

When she finally tried to ride some waves, Fawn found one more fear to overcome.

"That's really scary because all my life I've been taught the devil lives in the water and if you go in you're giving yourself up to him" says Broadbent.

Now that she's been to Hawaii, Fawn's set herself a new goal. She wants to go to college and get a master's degree in criminal justice.

"I can give children a voice. Someone's looking out for their needs."

Flora Jessop says the fundamentalist Latter Day Saints religious sect is head quartered in Colorado City, Arizona. Its leader, Warren Steed Jeff is currently on the FBI's ten most wanted list.

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