Told you so: Warren Jeffs' Jane Doe revealed to the public as Elissa Wall.
Elissa Wall, age 14, in a photo released by her lawyers.
As the jury in the rape-as-accomplice trial of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs recessed for the weekend, attorneys for his accuser revealed her name, Elissa Wall. They also provided a photo of Wall at age 14, one just published in the Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News. Wall alleges she was married off by Jeffs to her cousin, and forced to have sex with him, despite her then tender age.
She's now 21. And though her name has long been well-known to the court, all of the lawyers in the case, the Fundamentalist LDS church, and those familiar with her lawsuit against the FLDS (in which she's asking for $1 million), the news media declined to print her moniker till now.
Back in December, I revealed Wall's name in the blog item "Warren Jeffs' Jane Doe," pointing out that it was hypocritical for the news media to withhold her identity because everyone knew it, and she herself was likely to be interviewed by 20/20 or some other TV news magazine after the trial. Well, she hasn't been on 20/20 yet, but you can bet that now her lawyers have spilled the legumes, Oprah will be on the horn tout de suite.
What happened to her, of course, was despicable, and plain evidence that the FLDS is a cult of personality, overseen by The Prophet, Jeffs. But the withholding of her name by the media, as if this were some ordinary rape case, was ridiculous. At the time I posted Wall's identity, one commenter was indignant, calling it "an asshole thing to do," and that it indicated my "lack of compassion." But it was my belief then as now that in dealing with the secrecy surrounding the FLDS, its polygamy, and Warren Jeffs, the need for clarity and openness trumped whatever antiquated notion of chivalry that was motivating the shielding of Wall's name.
If Wall was still 14, and the alleged rape happened a year ago, that would be a different kettle of koi. The protection of a minor's name would be understandable, and likely court-ordered. But it would not surprise me one bit if Wall writes a book about her horrifying experience, and more power to her if she does. So the secrecy around this adult's name was silly from jump.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.