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Former FLDS mother gains custody of children, faces harassment

(Jay Dortzbach/KSL-TV)


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ARIZONA — Sabrina knew she was in for a fight when she went to take legal custody of her four children from her husband.

She just never thought how big of a fight it would be.

“Lots of members from the community started showing up. They surrounded her vehicle, the home, fences and the yard. They were kicking the van. They even tried to put a cow and chickens into her vehicle,” said Flora Jessop, who was Sabrina’s adviser throughout the court trial.

Jessop was on the phone with Sabrina as the mother pulled up to her former home in the FLDS community of Colorado City, Arizona.

A Mohave County judge ruled in favor of Sabrina getting custody of her children, ages 10-14, on Thursday.

When the mother arrived to pick up her children Thursday evening, they were gone.

Her children didn’t arrive until midnight, and when they did arrive, they were rushed into the house with more than a dozen adults, who wouldn’t let them see their mother.

“She stayed in her van throughout the night and didn’t leave it because she was scared the tires would be slit or someone would try to sabotage it,” said Jessop.

Friday morning, Jessop says Sabrina told her about 600 people were surrounding her van.

Scared for her life, she called law enforcement who got the children out of the house and then escorted them out of town.

"I've been doing this work for these women for 20-plus years and we see it, the same thing every single time. This is nothing new,” said Jessop.

It's also nothing new to Sam Brower.

He's a private investigator in southern Utah and has inside knowledge of the FLDS community.

Brower says if a woman wants to leave that lifestyle, especially with her children, it's tough for the mother and the children.

“These children, they haven't ever known good times. They haven't ever been able to play like normal children do,” said Brower.

Brower watched video of all those people surrounding the mother’s car and says it’s completely backwards.

“It should be a time when they should be going, 'oh my gosh, they finally get to go with their mother,' but this is like a commodity being stolen from the community. It’s scary,” said Brower.

For Jessop, she's just glad Sabrina had the courage to keep fighting, and maybe will be an inspiration to other women in similar situations.

"She cares very much about her children and she's willing to come back and do the fight and she has won,” said Jessop.

Jessop says if any woman is in a similar situation, not just in an FLDS community, to do three important steps; gather all your important documents, like birth certificates and car titles, start stashing away a little bit of money at a time, maybe take $10 or $20 out of the grocery money, and speak to someone you trust, like calling the Defenders of Children or law enforcement.

Jessop, who says she escaped from the FLDS community herself, believes help and hope are out there.

Anyone wishing to help Sabrina and her four children can make donations through the Defender's of Children website at: www.defendersofchildren.org*.

*KSL.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does KSL.com assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Alex Cabrero

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