The name Warren Jeffs often comes up when talking about plural marriage and child brides. Jeffs, who was considered a prophet in the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, had over 80 wives and at least 60 children. He is currently serving a life plus 20 years sentence for two felony counts of child sexual assault. While there have been documentaries and podcasts about Jeffs, what sets the four-part series, Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run With Warren Jeffs, apart is the interviews with some of his children, wives, and the person who might have been closest to him, his scribe, Naomie.
In the first two episodes, we get the backstory about how Warren Jeffs came into power. After the previous prophet, Rulon Jeffs passes away, his wife claims that Warren is the new prophet. She becomes his scribe, the person who is with him at all times and takes notes on what he is saying. After going on the run to avoid lawsuits, Jeffs decides to settle in Texas, where you can marry as young at 14-years-old with parental permission. He marries girls even younger with “celestial marriages,” with no legal bindings.
Following a raid on the property, prosecutors can prove child sexual assault by finding audio evidence of sexual activity and a paternity and maternity test proving that he impregnated a minor. Even in prison, Jeff still has a chokehold on his family, exiling wives and sending children off by communicating via a cell phone in prison.
Several revelations were baffling while watching this documentary. With Jeffs instilling the fear of God into his family, he can control them, even with his words should carry no weight and he is not physically there. But what is most confusing is Naomie. Naomie, who was with Jeffs the entire time and knew all his crimes, was not charged with anything at all. At the beginning of the documentary, she plays the victim, but her tone and demeanor completely change as the series goes on. She even insinuates that laws aren’t always just, saying she knew the minor he married and knew that she wanted a baby and was mature enough to make that decision. While Warren is definitely evil, he had enablers that made these crimes possible.
Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run With Warren Jeffs premieres April 26 on Peacock.