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Susan Wood ReportingA group that helps women leave their lives of polygamy is giving its complete support to Mary Ann Kingston who yesterday filed suit against the leaders of the polygamous clan she has fled.
Today members of Tapestry Against Polygamy said the lawsuit is a welcome development. The tapestry group has been trying to help women leave oppressive circumstances in polygamous homes, and they say today that the latest lawsuit may be just a beginning of a larger exodus of women seeking refuge from plural marriages.
Rowenna Erickson, Tapestry Co-founder: “I’m tired of hearing about babies dying, im tired of hearing about men having sex anytime they want it with whoever they want it. How are we going to stop it if we don't do something."
That's why Rowenna Erickson and members of Tapestry are so pleased with the lawsuit filed by Mary Ann Kingston. The suit names 242 defendants and seeks 110 million dollars in damages.
Rowenna Erickson: “I know the Kingstons; I know where it’s gonna hurt, and the only way is financial."
These women have all been members of prominent polygamous groups and they say abuse is common. But they say women and children are taught to turn their heads and the public hears very little about it. They claim to know of incest and rape, young girls forced to marry elderly men, physical assault and mental abuse. They say some men withhold food money to punish a wife, or limit their visits with her.
Sylvia Mahr, Tapestry Board Member: "Just the fact that these men can have more than one wife puts them on a power trip and they all end up misusing that."
Sylvia Mahr is still trying to get out of a polygamous community in Montana, and she also hopes this lawsuit brings other cases of abuse to light. Tapestry says the lawsuit filed by Mary Ann Kingston is just the beginning. They say more criminal and civil lawsuits are already in the works.