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.

6 Comments On “A survivor of the Twelve Tribes community speaks out”

  1. My brother joined the 12 tribes in 1999. It has been about 3 or 4 years since I have heard from him. He joined in Hamburg NY but last lived on a farm in Landcaster NH – I have several #’s but can not reach him. He is married with 2 children and his wife is from NH I believe? I would appreciate any advise or help to get in touch with him again.

  2. My friend’s son (and the child’s mother) have not been seen or heard from for 2 years. Is there anyone here can help us locate which of the 12 Tribes communities they are currently at?

  3. Hello,
    This message is to Shuah. I wonder if you would have any memory of me. I helped take care of you when you were 4 yrs old. We lived in Island Pond, VT, at the Gateway house. I believe there were seven children in your family. You had a baby brother at the time. I was 19 at the time and was one of the single women in the house. I was not born into the community. Your mom needed help so you actually stayed in my room and I cared for you. You were a sweet little girl and I loved caring for you. I even crocheted you a little bag for your handkerchief. When I came across this video, I couldn’t believe it was you. I have seen some videos of ex members and new many of them. I believe I was a member from 89-92. I am glad you are away from there. It was very brave of you and I commends you for it. I can only imagine you difficult it must be. I also had a lot of issues after I left but imagine it would be so much harder after being born and raised into that. I wish you well.

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