And “Facts are Stubborn Things” No Doubt
Told by Mr. Milando Pratt
Concerning the Abortion Case—They are an Ugly Array—Not Half Told Yet
Salt Lake City, November 22, 1884
As it is stated through your paper that the “testimony of the witness principally concerned—the young lady herself—in the Irons-Evans-Fowler case before the Grand Jury had its effect in overweighting the testimony of all the other witnesses, and causing the sentiment to waver and the case to totter,” I would like—in justice to all parties concerned, and especially to the public at large—to state a few facts in connection with the case.
It is alleged in your reporter’s statement published in this morning’s Herald, that when “her”—Miss Evans, now Irons’—“affidavit was read to her,” that “she was asked how she ever came to sign such a document if its contents were not true? She answered that she was in a state of mind impossible to describe, from having been informed that both Mr. Irons and Dr. Fowler had left the country, and that the former had absconded with a large sum of money. Being asked who had told her this, she answered Mr. Pratt. When she signed the paper she said she did so believing that she was doing something which would bring her lover back to her.”
Now, it appears that it is upon this, her testimony, the Grand Jury ignores the testimony of all the other witnesses in this somewhat celebrated case. All other evidence—including the fetus itself—must be ignored and erased from the minds of the jury when this Iron-bound testimony appeareth. Some of the “jurors were seen to turn aside and place their handkerchiefs to their eyes” and weep. Oh, that I could have witnessed this touching scene! Weep on; weep on; ye ministers of justice (?). Keep not back the gushing tears of sympathy, let them flow on until remorse and shame is swallowed up in the victory of iniquity and crime goeth unpunished.
Now for the facts. First, I deny ever having told the girls, Evans, “that both Mr. Irons and Fowler had left the country, and that the former had absconded with a large sum of money,” as the following statement will show for itself and can be refuted by the parties whose names I have taken the liberty to make use of, it not stated according to facts:
After Mr. Pratt had informed the girl that we knew what was the cause of her sickness and the nature of it by the discovery of the fetus and the overhearing of the conversation between herself and Irons, and also Dr. Fowler, she made an open confession to us, as she subsequently did to a number of others. She related about Mr. Irons sending her to Dr. Carnahan, of Ogden, to undergo an examination some weeks previous to her sickness; her reasons for leaving her home in Brigham City to come to this city, after finding out her condition, and that Mr. Irons was very angry at her for coming; his treatment towards her; how she had pleaded with him to marry her, and the excuses he had offered for not doing so; how he had deceived her on various occasions; how that he had made arrangements with Dr. Fowler for her to visit him for examination on three different occasions; giving the details and particulars of these visits, especially the last one of Saturday afternoon, November 1, wherein the doctor performed an operation upon her person, which brought about the sickness, etc., etc.
On Monday morning, November 3, the day following the discovery of the abortion, I went up to the City Hall to file my complaint or affidavit against Irons and Fowler. While the officer was taking my statement and before it was completed so that I could sign it, Mr. Irons was released from prison on bail, and he told me that he was going right down to see the girl. Feeling that his object for going to her was to seal her mouth from testifying against himself and the doctor, I immediately went to the Marshal and requested him to send an officer to my house forbidding Mr. Irons to enter. Knowing the nervous condition of my wife, I also started for home before signing the affidavit. The officer having arrived at my house just before Irons reached there, informed my wife of his coming. After Mrs. Pratt had forbid Irons from entering the house he cried out to the girl form the outside, but the officer—who was stationed in the house at the time—put in an appearance and Irons scampered off without having the privilege of communicating with the girl.
After all had quieted down, I again returned to the City Hall for the purpose of completing the charge. After the affidavit was completed and I was about to sign it, it was suggested to me that if the girl, Miss Lizzie Evans, who was the most injured party in this affair, would be the complainant herself, that this would be the better way to proceed in the matter. I therefore requested Justice Speirs to accompany me home, and get her sworn affidavit. I read the affidavit to her carefully and slowly, in the presence of Justice Speirs and several others, and after hearing it read she held up her hand, saying as she did so, “I say that every word of it is true, so help me God;” and she also said, “I can tell more.” She did this willingly, without the least compulsion or persuasion on the part of any one. She also admitted and stated the particulars of Dr. Fowler’s examination and operation upon her to Drs. Hamilton and Bowers in the presence of Mrs. Pratt and myself, and I think, her mother, and they expressed themselves, after having heard her statement, that it was “a clear case of abortion.”
The case was set for examination before the Justice’s Court, and in the meantime it was thought proper, by the prosecution, to take a statement of sworn deposition from her—as she was lying in a very critical condition and might die—so that her testimony could be preserved. Therefore Mr. Fletcher, the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, went down to my house for that purpose and took her statement, which she gave voluntarily and of her own free will and choice.
Now, does this look consistent with her alleged testimony before the Grand Jury, that “when she signed the paper she did so believing that she was doing something which would bring her lover back to her?” What nonsense! “Oh! consistency, thou art (surely) a jewel!” The alleged Grand Jury’s sympathy—decision notwithstanding. But what may we expect of a “packed jury”—a jury not of the people?
Excuse me, Mr. Editor, I realize that I am crowding too much of your valuable space, but the half has not yet been told.
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nov. 22, 1884, 7]
[Salt Lake Herald, Nov. 23, 1884]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Apr. 2006]