The former child bride whose testimony led to the conviction of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs is telling her story in a new book.
Elissa Wall's much anticipated autobiography, "Stolen Innocence," hit bookstore shelves on Tuesday, at a time when interest in the FLDS is at a national high because of the raid in Texas. The book was published by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins.
Wall devotes most of the 431-page book to her upbringing in the FLDS Church and her marriage that led to the criminal charges being filed against Jeffs, spending the last third devoted to the high-profile trial and her views of it from the witness stand.
It was Wall's testimony that led to Jeffs' conviction on charges of rape as an accomplice for performing the marriage between the then-14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.
"I wanted to run as Uncle Warren droned on with the vows," she wrote of the wedding ceremony at a Caliente, Nev., motel in 2001.
After repeatedly being asked if she took Allen Steed to be her husband, and even having her mother stand beside her, Wall finally responded: "OK. I do."
"My soul was broken," she wrote. "I was now going to be Allen's wife for eternity and there was nothing I could do about it."
She wrote about attempting suicide the night she first had sex with her new husband, the night she also alleges she was raped. Wall writes in the book that her attempts to be "released" (divorced) from her husband were rebuffed by Jeffs.
"Warren knew without a doubt what I was talking about, even though I had no idea how to talk about such personal, secret things with the most powerful man in our community," she wrote. "I didn't even know words such as sex or rape, but I communicated to Warren the only way I could, and I knew that he understood."
She was told to go back to her husband, where she said she attempted to make their marriage work, but was secretly miserable.
A flat tire and getting stuck in the mud during a miscarriage led to her first introduction to Lamont Barlow, the man to whom Wall is now married. She details his history in the FLDS Church, and the affair that led to her leaving Steed, pregnant with Barlow's baby.
Wall writes that a law enforcement investigation was already under way into her marriage to Steed when she first received a phone call from Roger Hoole, who would later become her attorney.
Jeffs' criminal defense attorneys accused her of filing a civil lawsuit against Jeffs before going to law enforcement, but she writes that she had already been working with Washington County prosecutors before she filed suit.
"Though I wasn't eager to spend any more time in the court system than I needed to, I didn't want to pull any punches in my effort against Warren," she writes.
Describing the trial, Wall takes shots at Jeffs' defense team and her ex-husband, whom she said "failed in his attempts to save the prophet."
Jeffs is serving two 5-to-life sentences. He is currently in an Arizona jail where he is awaiting trial on charges of sexual misconduct and incest, accused of performing more child-bride marriages. Wall is a witness in one of those cases.
Steed is currently facing a rape charge in St. George's 5th District Court. A phone call to Steed's attorney was not immediately returned on Tuesday. An attorney acting as a spokesman for the FLDS Church declined to comment Tuesday on Wall's book.
Wall has since traveled to Texas and offered assistance to Texas authorities in the raid on the YFZ Ranch.
"It was clear that this investigation was not about religion. It was about child abuse, sanctioned and directed by the FLDS men in authority," Wall wrote in the epilogue of her new book. "As hard as it has been to watch the events of Eldorado unfold, they prove that there are still so many young girls who don't realize yet that they, too, have the right to cry out against injustice."144 comments on this story
Wall's multi-million dollar lawsuit against Jeffs, the FLDS Church and the court-controlled United Effort Plan Trust are still pending. The Deseret News reported on Monday that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff will be deposed in the case.
Wall writes that she wants to set up a fund for women and girls who leave the FLDS sect."It is my intention to use proceeds from that lawsuit, a portion of my profits from this book, and donations to start and operate the MJ Fund," she wrote.