The Girl Whose Story Ended The Career Of Warren Jeffs From Preaching Evil

At the age of 14, Elissa Wall was informed by her church leader that she was ready to be married. She was also informed that her future husband was already chosen. As reported by The U.S. Sun, she would be forced to wed her 19-year-old cousin Allen Steed.

As a member of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Wall was expected to respect the decisions made by Warren Jeffs — the self-proclaimed "prophet" and president of the fundamentalist sect. Wall was devastated, as she did not believe she was ready to be married. She was also worried because she and Steed did not get along.

In an interview with The U.S. Sun, Wall said she had known Steed her "entire life," and she had "an intense dislike of him." She said he was "mean and rude" toward her, and the idea of marrying him made her incredibly uncomfortable.

Wall said she tried to discuss her concerns with Jeffs. However, the FLDS leader simply asked, "Do you believe you know better than the prophet?" Wall said she was intimidated by Jeffs and genuinely "wanted to feel worthy of salvation." Although she relented and accepted her fate, Wall was absolutely devastated.

The U.S. Sun reports Wall remembers watching her mother and sister make her wedding dress. However, what should have been a joyous day was overshadowed by the undeniable reality that the teenager was being forced into marriage against her will.

Elissa Wall was forced to marry her cousin when she was 14

Elissa Wall and three other girls, who were also 14 years old, were taken to Nevada — where the ceremonies would be performed in an abandoned hotel. When it was time for her ceremony, The U.S. Sun reports Elissa Wall was led into a room with her mother, Warren Jeffs, and Allen Steed. As Jeffs performed the ceremony, Walls said she was crying so hard her tears soaked the front of her wedding dress and she was unable to repeat her vows.

Nevertheless, Jeffs, who performed the ceremony, declared the couple married. Unfortunately, the wedding was only the beginning of the terror that would plague Wall for years to come.

As she dreaded, Steed was cruel and abusive. Wall said she was uncomfortable with the idea having sexual relations with her new husband, and attempted to refuse his advances. However, Steed asserted that he had a right, as her husband, to do what he wanted. Although she was crying and pleading with him to stop, Steed raped her on their wedding night.

Wall said she did not fully understand what Steed was doing to her, but she did know it was "scary and terrifying." According to The U.S. Sun, Wall talked to Jeffs about the incident, as she hoped he would be able to help her. Unfortunately, he simply told her she was obligated to submit to her husband. She said Jeffs' response to her concerns felt like a betrayal.

Elissa Wall said she was mentally, physically, and sexually abused

Over the next three years, Elissa Wall said the abuse only intensified. In addition to being raped, Wall said Allen Steed subjected her to mental and physical abuse. As reported by The U.S. Sun, Wall also had several miscarriages, which made her feel deep despair. In her mind, the miscarriages were a "message from God that [she] was not worthy to be a mother."

By the time she was 17, Wall had suffered through several years of devastating abuse and personal challenges that left her feeling desperate and terribly alone. According to The U.S. Sun, she ultimately fell in love with another member of the FLDS.

When she and the man, who was named Lamont Barlow, were seen together in a photograph, Steed and Jeffs confronted Wall and accused her of committing adultery. Although Wells sought help, on multiple occasions, for the abuse, Jeffs insisted Steed was an obedient member of the FLDS, and had not done anything wrong. However, he condemned Wall for falling in love with another man. 

In an interview with The U.S. Sun, Wall said, "It lit a righteous fury in me — after all the times I had pleaded for help, I was the wicked one." For Wall, the incident was the breaking point that convinced her to walk away from the FLDS.

Elissa Wall left the FLDS and reported the abuse to authorities

Elissa Wall and Lamont Barlow left the FLDS together, as reported by People. Although she was elated to have escaped the abuse, Wall feared she would suffer consequences for her decision to leave the religious sect. She said at times she wondered, "Will the devil be waiting for me?"

After leaving the FLDS, Wall went to authorities about the forced marriage and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, she also reported Warren Jeffs' apparent approval, and even endorsement, of the abuse.

Wall eventually testified against Jeffs in a criminal trial, in which he was charged with being an accomplice to rape. Although he was convicted, the decision was ultimately overturned by the Utah Supreme Court. Wall's participation in the trial led to severe condemnation from members of the FLDS, including former friends and members of her family.

Although the conviction in one case was overturned, Jeffs faced criminal charges in multiple states — as former members of the FLDS filed numerous complaints.

Warren Jeffs was ultimately sentenced to life in prison

Warren Jeffs was ultimately convicted on multiple criminal counts, including sexual assault with a child. As reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, he was sentenced to life in prison. However, he is still considered to be the president and prophet of the FLDS.

In 2015, Elissa Wall filed a lawsuit seeking damages against Jeffs and the FLDS, for being forced to marry at the age of 14 and the abuse she suffered as a result. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, she was ultimately awarded a $2.75 million settlement. The settlement was paid by the United Effort Plan, which has possession of land formerly owned by Jeffs. The settlement included cash and a plot of land. Although the land was previously associated with the FLDS, and Wall still has trouble coping with the abuse she suffered as a member, she wants to turn it into something positive.

Elissa Wall hopes to help others who have left or want to leave the FLDS

Elissa Wall said she would like Short Creek to become a thriving community for those who left the FLDS in pursuit of a better life. In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, she said, "There was a part of me that wanted to face those demons and remind me that I was bigger than this place."

Wall said she has reconnected with hundreds of former members of the FLDS who have moved back to the land formerly owned by Jeffs. As his supporters have all moved away, she hopes she and the others can make it a better place where they can build new, and more positive memories.

In 2017, Wall won another civil case against Jeffs and the church and was awarded $16 million in damages. In addition to building a new community, The Cinemaholic reports she hopes to use the money to help others who already have, or want to, leave the FLDS.