ELDORADO, TX - The Eldorado based polygamist sect mired in the largest child custody hearing in state history defended its members against allegations of child abuse and coerced marriage of minors in a press statement issued Friday.
FLDS representative Joseph R. Smith acknowledged that minors had been wed to older men within the sect, but claimed that the marriages occurred without coercion, and with the full consent of the parents of each of the young women involved.
"I decided that my own daughter should be wed at sixteen," said Smith. "A young woman don't know what she wants or even what's good for her. She needs a man to determine what's in her best interest, and what better man to do that than her father. I think a father should decide when his daughter is old enough to marry her daddy. And as Lou-Ann's father, I decided when it was time for her to marry me."