With wet eyes and a broad smile, Amy Hawkins walked out of a Texas courtroom Wednesday and embraced her 15-year-old son waiting for her in the hallway.
“You are free,” she said. “We’re free. You’re going to have an education. You’re going to have a life.”
After hours of testimony, a judge granted Hawkins temporary custody of her four children, allowing them to return to South Carolina where they have been living since she left her husband and a Texas religious group on Aug. 1.
Hawkins testified that as members of the House of Yahweh in nearby Clyde, her son was forced to work long hours in the group’s slaughterhouse while she lived in isolation with her three daughters who were denied a formal education and medical care.
She said on the stand that all of their family’s decisions were made by her husband after consulting with the group’s elders.
“He couldn’t make a decision on his own or have a conversation with his own wife,” she testified.
Hawkins, who had moved to the enclave in West Texas with her husband in 2001, finally had enough one day and downloaded the Facebook app, which was against the church rules, and contacted her mother-in-law who was surprised to learn that she had four grandchildren.
Apparently the cult leaders have had several run ins with the law including a church elder, Yedidiyah Hawkins, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of aggravated sexual assault for using a vaginal speculum on an 11-year-old girl and the leader of the church, Yisrayl Bill Hawkins, who was sentenced to probation and six months community service after he pleaded no contest to four counts of child labor violations after he allegedly forced children under 14 years old to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the group’s fields, cafeteria, canning operation and butter making process.
As part of that plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop bigamy charges against the man.
How nice of them.
I encourage you to read the rest to the article linked up above. It it quite eye opening, and more than a little troubling.
Remember this is happening in the 21st Century, in the United States of America folks.
It makes one wonder just how many of these cults are still out there, and how long it will be before one of them reaches the boiling point and becomes the next People's Temple.