Ex-Polygamy Cult Member Shares Tale Of Sex, Control

10 News, San Diego/June 19, 2008

[Ms. L.], a former polygamy cult member involved with a group where women were forced to model and sew lingerie, is now sharing her past.

Abandoned by her biological mother, [Ms. L.]'s traumatic experiences began as a young girl.

"My biological mother, she was a drug addict and she left me at a head shop so she could go rob banks for drug money. It was the owners of the head shop that are the ones that took me to Utah," said [Ms. L.].

After joining several different groups, [Ms. L.] said her foster parents settled in Ogden, Utah. They joined the Zion Society, a group led by Arvin Shreeve.

Tucked in a small community in Ogden, Utah, a handful of homes housed Shreeve's followers. The homes were surrounded by immaculate gardens that were tended by [Ms. L.] and other women.

"It was a subdivision, " [Ms. L.] said. "Everything on the outside looked completely normal. It almost looked like what you would see in Stepford Wives. We would wake up and everything in the house had to be completely immaculate."

According to [Ms. L.], females from four years of age up to 65 years old were part of the group. Each woman would be assigned to groups called "sister councils."

"They would have sister councils where Arvin -- who was the self-proclaimed prophet -- would assign the women to the families that God told him that they belonged to," said [Ms. L.].

[Ms. L.] said many of the women felt protected, claiming the group's leader guaranteed his followers a ticket to heaven. [Ms. L.] said that Shreeve told members who strayed they would go to hell.

Shreeve, a retired landscaper, would ask his followers to sew lingerie and model their finished products.

[Ms. L.] said, "We sewed lingerie that they would sell. They had a company that they would sell to local strippers and etc. I didn't feel that it was wrong and I didn't feel any pain. The only thing that I felt was I hoped that I could stand out somehow to Arvin and that he'll notice that I'm here too," said [Ms. L.].

The self-proclaimed prophet controlled everything from the women's diets to their finances.

"We had to weigh ourselves in to make sure that we stayed a certain weight. We weren't allowed to go over our weight [or] we would get in extreme trouble," said [Ms. L.].

According to [Ms. L.], Shreeve would require the women to request money if they wanted to purchase items. [Ms. L.] also described disturbing instances of physical and sexual abuse that happened within the group.

"The children were all taught that if we were ever to talk about what happened sexually inside the group that we will go straight to hell," said [Ms. L.].

According to [Ms. L.], followers would have to give up their children. In addition, she said, the children were told they were not blood-related, therefore making it easier for sexual relationships to occur.

"A 15-year-old girl would be instructed to teach the nine-year-old girl how to sexually satisfy a man or a woman," [Ms. L.] said. "All of the women would have sex with each other as well because they said that one man couldn't satisfy 30 wives and that they were suppose to help satisfy each other."

In light of the recent raids on a polygamist compound in Texas, [Ms. L.] says she has deep sympathy for the children.

"I know how connected those children are to their parents because I know how scared they are now because not only are they away from their parents but they're taught this is the outside world," she said.

A former member's statement to police eventually led to the arrest of Arvin Shreeve. Shreeve, two men and several women were arrested and convicted on child molestation charges. Shreeve is serving time on two counts of sodomy on a child -- a first-degree felony punishable by five years to life -- and two counts of sexual abuse of a child -- a second-degree felony punishable by one to 15 years.

[Ms. L.] has written a screenplay about her ordeal. She hopes it will shed a light on those still involved in polygamy.

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