Broken whispers

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SAN ANGELO, Texas -- A  jury has been selected. The pre-trial bickering is almost at an end. And Thursday afternoon we may finally hear opening statements in the sexual assault case of polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs.

What a long, sad trip it has been.

I remember the first young girl I ever interviewed who had run from Colorado City.  Her name was Cheri Beth Taylor.  It was years ago when Warren Jeffs' father, Rulon, was still the prophet -- at a time when all the people who are now screaming for action couldn't find Colorado City on a map. She was frail and pretty, so timid  that she seemed to speak only in broken whispers.

Like so many girls I have come to know , she had run because at the age of 14, she knew her time was near -- the time when she would given as a plural bride to a polygamous man, probably old and fat, a man she may never have met. 

I can see her face as if she were sitting in front of me today -- pale and scared. I wondered at the time where she had summoned the courage. But fear is a powerful motivator.  

I have spent much of my life covering stories like that of Cheri Beth Taylor and I will think of her as I sit in the courtroom watching this trial.