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"Crusader' set for kidnapping trial

Published Apr. 20, 1992|Updated Oct. 11, 2005

A woman who hid allegedly abused children from across the nation in an underground network goes to court today on criminal charges of kidnapping and cruelty to children.

Faye Yager, the founder of the Children's Underground Network, is accused of kidnapping a Florida boy, interfering with the custody of his 8-year-old sister and treating both cruelly.

Mrs. Yager, whose trial begins today in Cobb County Superior Court, has denied the charges. If convicted, she faces a maximum 60 year prison sentence.

Myra Watts of Cocoa Beach said she contacted Mrs. Yager in 1990, seeking shelter from her husband, but became leery of Mrs. Yager's methods.

Mrs. Yager bullied Jarod and Alicia Watts into alleging that their father sexually abused them and worshiped the devil, Mrs. Watts testified in 1990. Mrs. Yager says 70 percent of the cases she works on involve Satanic ritual abuse.

"She told me my children would come into my bedroom at night while I was asleep and perform Satanic rituals over my bed. She told me my children were poisoning me, feeding me with cyanide," Mrs. Watts said. "At this point, I realized I was dealing with a crazy lady."

Mrs. Yager says she suggested Mrs. Watts seek an attorney's help rather than try to hide her children from her husband.

Prosecutors confiscated videotapes from Mrs. Yager's home that they say show her trying to coach and intimidate Alicia Watts into making false allegations of sexual abuse.

Mrs. Yager, arrested in 1990, is free on $15,000 bail. Another woman arrested with her, Barbara Ann Mullis of Millwood, also was released on $15,000 bail.

An interior decorator turned national crusader, Mrs. Yager founded the underground network in 1987. Mrs. Yager has said she helps hide children because the courts often ignore allegations of abuse by fathers.

Mrs. Yager, who claims to have hidden about 500 children, has been sued and subpoenaed to testify in several states about her role in hiding children from allegedly abusive parents.

She filed bankruptcy in 1990 after a judge slapped her with a $5-million libel judgment for defaming on a television talk show a New Jersey father acquitted of molesting his daughter.

Mrs. Yager says Cobb County prosecutors trumped up charges against her to try to shut down her network, but she says a conviction won't stop her.

"If anything, they are going to make the underground so much bigger. Even if I'm sitting in jail, the underground will operate," she said after her arrest.

Mrs. Yager fled with her own daughter in the early 1970s when the courts granted custody to Mrs. Yager's former husband, Roger Jones.

Mrs. Yager said Jones was sexually abusing the girl. She returned with her daughter when a medical examination showed the 4-year-old child had contracted gonorrhea.

Mrs. Yager was jailed for violating the custody order, and Jones was given free access to their daughter. The daughter, now in her 20s, has since said she was molested by Jones.

In August 1990, Jones was convicted in Sarasota of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He is now awaiting another trial in Sarasota on other counts of having sex with minors.

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