A survivor of the Twelve Tribes community speaks out
Source: WNYT Channel 13
by Karen Tararache, June 06, 2018 06:46 AM
“If I explain to you what it’s like to watch a diaper get pulled off of a six month old baby so that it can be beaten with a rod until it’s welts, it’s covered in welts and bruises,” Shuah Jones explained.
Jones was 15 years old when she escaped the Twelve Tribes in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Her father is one of the three founders of the controversial religious sect where she describes children being force fed caffeine stimulants in order to work long hours through the night in a factory packaging beauty products.
“I was six or seven years old and I was sitting on a stool because I couldn’t reach the factory line and I remember the giant vats,” she said.
Tuesday, the Department of Labor issued multiple violations involving twelve minors at work at the “Common Sense Farm” in Cambridge.
Jones says it’s not the first time the Twelve Tribes has been caught or fined. It has just made them smarter at evading authorities.
“We used to run fire drills with the children to teach them how to all line up single file and get out the back door and we had certain systems in place to alert each other across the building.”
Jones hopes that by speaking out she can save the children, including her niece that continues to be physically and sexually abused, even today.
“If nothing happens from this investigation I’ve hurt the children that are currently working there.”
A member of the community in Cambridge issued a statement, calling themselves “law-abiding citizens,” addressing the undercover Inside Edition video as occasional visits by children to spend time with their parents and that likening that to child labor is “sadly inaccurate.”
Jones suffers from severe PTSD and is working on getting her degree in cognitive psychology, with the goal of educating non-violent parenting to other people.
“We call those the exit wounds, because instead of reporting it to the police, my parents chose the commune over me,” Jones said.
The Department of Labor says the most recent investigation could result in fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.
But Jones says it’s not enough. She explains, the Twelve Tribes is able to escape prosecution because when they’re caught they pay the fines and move across state lines, relying on the fact that agencies rarely share information with other state departments.