Several days ago on Oprah’s show “Where Are They Now?” Oprah sat down in a lengthy on-camera conversation with Willie Jessop. Big Willie, as he is un-affectionately known by those who knew and feared him as Warren Jeff’s henchman, was given an opportunity to redeem himself in Oprah’s eyes, and in the eyes of her millions of viewers.
In 2009, following the government raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint (F.L.D.S.) Yearning for Zion (Y.F.Z.) Ranch in Texas, Oprah and her film crew were given carte blanche access to the ranch, with Big Willie as Oprah’s personal tour guide.
During Oprah’s visit, Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the F.L.D.S. sat in a Utah prison, serving a sentence for sex crimes against children after being on the F.B.I.’s 10 Most Wanted list. The government raid on the F.L.D.S., Y.F.Z. Ranch was in response to a call from an anonymous caller who claimed she had been the victim of a sex crime at Y.F.Z Ranch.
During the raid on Y.F.Z. the government seized boxes of records containing mounting evidence of Warren having what most many of us would consider orgy rapes of underage girls.
To his own demise, he kept audio recordings of those orgies as what he called, “Heavenly Sessions.” Photographs were taken of the bed and private chamber in the temple that he used for his group sessions, and the audio recordings were seized as evidence that would eventually put Warren Jeffs in a Texas prison for the remainder of his life, and then some. The results of the investigation were still underway when Oprah paid her visit to the Y.F.Z. Ranch.
Back to Big Willie, aka Willie Jessop and his visits with Oprah. Okay, I admit I am a little jealous, not of Willie, heavens no. I am a little envious of the quality time he was able to spend with a woman I deeply admire as one of the great change makers and voices for global transformation.
From the moment Oprah stepped into the back seat of the automobile with Big Willie at her side, I knew she was in for the ride of her life and a deception like she had never or probably has ever experienced.
Willie wasn’t only Warren Jeff’s henchman, he was Warren’s personal body guard, protector of Warren’s assets and secrets and the F.L.D.S. spokesperson. He was the man who delivered girls, ousted young boys, kicked out old men and ensured the reassignments of women and children. He was Warren’s right hand-man, and for good reason, Willie was large, bold, wickedly smart, an excellent business man and a smooth talker. That in itself would come back to haunt Warren later.
One of the first questions Oprah asked in her 2009 interview with Willie was how the F.L.D.S. people would feel about her. His reply was an outright lie when he told her the people would have no issue with her. Oprah represents everything the people are taught to despise, or more precisely, taught to fear. As a strong, successful, unmarried, childless, black woman of the world, she would be considered an abomination in every possible way. But, I’m sure the children were taught to keep their mouths shut, play along, and pretend they weren’t afraid. Then immediately wash everything down with bleach, have everything re-consecrated and Jesus called upon by a man with the Melchizedek to clear away the evil spirits after she left.
When Oprah asked various individuals about the underage marriages, everyone just smiled as they lied through their sickeningly sweet smiles, insisting they knew of no such thing.
This of course is completely ridiculous. Underage marriages have been a mainstay in that belief system for the past 100+ years. The people see nothing wrong with these young marriages because the legal marriage age, which not so long ago was only 14, and is still only 16 with parental consent. Even younger marriages are legal with a court consent. And, since a court of God holds more weight than a court of law, underage marriage can easily be justified by religion in their eyes. And, because God’s laws are superior to men’s, even though, “thou shalt not lie” is one of the ten commandments, when you lie for God and religion that makes lying perfectly okay.
Polygamy was blatantly obvious so Oprah didn’t even bother asking about it.
The kicker of the entire visit with Oprah was her wanting to understand about the bed in the temple. Rumor had it that there was a bed in the temple that Warren used for his sexual rituals. When Oprah asked Willie about the bed, Willie replied that any bed in the temple belonged to the groundskeeper. Right. A small, bed with side rails in a hidden chamber of the Holy of Holys on the third floor of the temple – that belonged to a groundskeeper?
I’m not 100% positive, because there is no way I would ever be allowed inside, (and if anyone told me the full truth about what happens in a temple they would have their tongue cut out – at least that’s what my parents told me) but I’m pretty sure that there is no regular Mormon temple with a bed like the one in Warren Jeff’s temple. Not even for the groundskeeper.
Aside from being completely snowed by barrage of lies that Oprah endured at the F.L.D.S., what she did see was an example of how communal living can look in the appearance of perfect harmony. Albeit, that perfect harmony came at the expense of no personal time for anyone and continual sacrifice to “the order”.
Without having a personal conversation with Oprah, I can’t say how she felt by the time she left. In my personal perception she was impressed by the people, unimpressed by Willie, and not fully convinced that everything was as it appeared. Although rumor has it that Willie conned Oprah out of a nice sum of money; supposedly on behalf of the children, which the children never saw. But since I can’t substantiate that, I will chalk it up to hearsay.
Fast forward to the present day. Warren Jeffs still calls the shots for the F.L.D.S. from behind prison walls as the undisputed prophet for thousands of people. His followers believe that he is in prison for religious persecution and that Hollywood magic was used to manipulate any incriminating audio and video footage. They aren’t allowed to watch television or have internet access, so any evidence to the contrary is inaccessible.
They are, in every sense of the word, blinded by their beliefs.
Because I am obviously long-winded and highly passionate about this particular subject. I am writing a second post about Oprah’s recent interview with Big Willie, as he spills the beans about what really happened, why he lied, and where he is heading with his life. Stay tuned for part two.