Cult Confrontations: The Fawns

Life on the Outside

When Fawn B. and Fawn H. were last on the show, they escaped from a polygamist cult in Colorado City. The day this show taped, Warren Jeffs, the leader of that controversial sect, was arrested just north of Las Vegas. Jeffs had been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List, and faces sexual misconduct charges for allegedly arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.

"How did you feel about it, Fawn?" Dr. Phil asks, referring to the capture.

Fawn B. replies, "I'm just so excited and happy."

Fawn B. now lives with Fawn H.'s brother, Carl, and his wife, Joni. Carl weighs in on Jeffs' arrest. "He left such a void. He eliminated anybody in there who could even challenge him in his authority there," he tells Dr. Phil.


Dr. Phil turns to Fawn B. "Are you relieved, or do you have anxiety about him being arrested?"

"A little of both," she replies. "I'm worried about what's going to happen next to the people down there. If they don't have communication with him, they're not going to know what to do with themselves. They don't know how to live without somebody telling them what to do, so I'm very worried about my family." 
 

Joni wants to give hope to the people who lived under Jeffs' regime. "There are a lot of us who are willing to help you in any way, shape or form," she says.

Since appearing on the show, Fawn B. has been excelling in school and acclimating to the outside world. It's been more difficult  for Fawn H. to adjust.

"Fawn H. came from Colorado City. We brought her up to live with us. She didn't have proper manners. She was unable to attend school down there. She was unable to socialize, and she was never allowed to make choices for herself. Those are some things that we had to teach her up here, things that you and I would've learned as little children," Joni explains.


One day, Fawn H. left a letter for her family that read, "I just want to say, don't you dare say you guys failed me. It's me, the idiot, that can't ever change." 

Grimly, Fawn B. says, "Fawn H. has run away, and I'm not sure she's ever going to come back."

Carl believes his sister got mixed up in a wild lifestyle, and was rebelling against his strict rules. "She wanted to go out and party a little bit more," he says. "I'm afraid she's going to end up pregnant, or she's going to end up ODing."  

"To me, drugs and alcohol, at 19, is not acceptable. Fawn ended up leaving our house. She bounced around from house to house," Joni divulges. 

Fawn worries about her friend's future. "She's having unprotected sex. She's tearing herself down," she reports. 

Dr. Phil wants the family to set up a meeting with Fawn H. On a speakerphone with Joni and Fawn B., he says, "Tell me what your biggest concerns are."

"What if she tries to bolt? What are we supposed to do?" Joni asks.

"At 19 years of age, she has reached legal majority, which means we cannot force or compel her. What we have to be willing to do is whatever it takes to enlist her cooperation in this," Dr. Phil advises. "Number one, you need to get her by yourself. Number two, I would use her letters " she is very self-condemning " and give her your point of view that that is absolutely, unequivocally, not how you feel. Then I would explain exactly how you do feel, which is, ‘You are a member of our family. The fact that you are having trouble transitioning from Colorado City is simply not your fault.'"

 

Dr. Phil would like to see Fawn H. return to MeadowHaven, a transitional home for people escaping high-control religious groups, cults, and abusive religious communes. "I would tell her, Joni, 'I made a mistake. You wanted to stay at MeadowHaven longer. I felt like the thing to do was to move on to the next level, and that was wrong. I shouldn't have done that.'"

Dr. Phil continues, "We have one goal here, and that is to get her back to MeadowHaven. If you go through these steps, I think you've got a real high chance that she's going to hang on and go forward with you."

Judy, an associate director at MeadowHaven, arrives at Joni's home. "I'm hoping it's going to be easy, but I think she's going to be really reluctant," Joni tells her.

"You just have to keep her engaged, because she may say, ‘I don't want to talk about this stuff.' She could get angry. She could get up and storm out of here," Judy warns. "If she does, I'm going to go right after her. I might have to get aggressive with her, if necessary."

Fawn H. arrives. Hidden cameras catch her interaction with her family. Joni brings up one of Fawn's letters. "It actually breaks my heart when I hear you talking about yourself in a negative manner, like you're an idiot," she tells Fawn H. "We never thought that of you."

"I know that. It had nothing to do with you guys," Fawn H. concedes. "I didn't really know myself, and I felt like it was nothing you guys were doing. It was just myself putting pressure on myself ... I just numbed myself, pretty much by anything possible."

Fawn balks at the idea of going back to MeadowHaven. She is surprised to learn that Judy is in the house. Judy comes up and hugs her. "I'm here because I'd like you to come to MeadowHaven," she says. "What do you think?"

"I'm not going to MeadowHaven," Fawn declares. "I actually feel really independent right now. And I feel really happy about what I'm doing."

Dr. Phil has a special taped message for Fawn H. "I know it's been very difficult for you to make this transition from Colorado City, and that lifestyle, into the world in general," he says. "All of us have a tendency to want to try to escape when we get anxious or upset. You are very young. You have your whole life ahead of you. I ask you to accept the help that I'm offering you, that Joni and Carl are offering, to grab onto that, and let us continue this journey together. You were an amazingly brave woman when you were 15, and I'm asking you to be brave again. But don't be brave alone, and don't run away from this. Let us help you. We want to do this with you, not to you."

Fawn H. gives a skeptical laugh when the message ends. "Number one, Dr. Phil does not know how hard it is for me. He's never been through that," she says. Fawn tells her family to stop pressuring her and leaves the room.

"I think she shut down by the time Dr. Phil got to her," Joni observes.

"If you're going to helps someone like this, you've got to resolve to help them," Dr. Phil explains. "I have good news to report. Just a few days later, Fawn called and said she did want help. She has just begun her extended stay at MeadowHaven."

 

Dr. Phil has a surprise for Fawn B. Inviting her up on stage, he says, "It's all about setting goals. You have a goal to go to Weber State, right?"

"Yes," she replies.

When Fawn's dream school, Weber State University, heard her story, they wanted to make sure that she had no problem getting a college degree. Charlotte Argyle, a representative from the college, joins them on stage. "We'd like to thank Dr. Phil for bringing this young lady to our attention. We are very, very proud to welcome her to Weber State, and we'd like to offer her a full scholarship," she announces.

 

Fawn wipes her eyes in disbelief. Charlotte hands Dr. Phil a sweatshirt with the Weber State University emblem emblazoned on it. "We also want to make Dr. Phil an official Wildcat," she says, with a grin.

 

"I'm going to cry. I'm so happy," Fawn tells Dr. Phil.