Melita Carter and her younger sister, Shannon Cowan

Irish woman denies attempt to 'brainwash' 14-year-old sister in Utah


Melita Carter and her younger sister, Shannon Cowan

The Irish woman accused of attempting to brainwash her 14-year-old sister into becoming a Mormom - or to marry her into the Mormon community in Utah, has reacted angrily to the claims.

Melita Carter was accused of attempting to convince her half-sister Shannon Cowan to stay with her in Utah following a holiday visit last summer, leading to fears in Ireland that she had been abducted by a religious cult.

Desperate for help, their mother Caroline called Ireland's national broadcaster RTE earlier this month to tell radio listeners that she feared for Shannon's safety.

But in an angry interview with the Sunday Tribune this weekend, Carter said she wanted  to clear her name and accused her own mother of exploiting the Mormon religion to simply get international attention.

"The whole brainwashing thing is crazy," Carter said from her home in Provo, Utah. "I feel Caroline brought my religion into this because she knew people would listen to what she had to say. I feel like what happened between Caroline and I has nothing got to do with religion and that it should not have been brought up."

Carter also blasted the suggestion made by their mother that the Mormon community might attempt to marry Shannon off to a Mormon suitor in line with their traditional religious practice.

"That was a part of my religion that was practised over 100 years ago, that men could have as many wives as they wanted; that is no longer practised and Caroline herself knows this," Carter said.

Carter then claimed she had received death threats as a result of the situation. Carter moved to America shortly before she turned 18 to live with her father. The two half sisters only made contact with each other again earlier this year and they had a successful reunion last May.

Shannon then made another trip to Utah and was due to return to Ireland on 19 August but never came back, sparking a stand-off between her older sister and her parents in Dublin.

"Melita has a barring order against me because they are making allegations that we were supposed to be hitting Shannon and things like that," Caroline told RTE, denying the allegation.

But Carter said Shannon was in America for a full three weeks after she was due to return home and that her parents made no effort to all her back.

"Where were they all this time? If they missed and loved Shannon so much and were so worried my husband and I were brainwashing her, why were they not here sooner?" she said.

"The police came to my house and questioned Shannon by herself and Shannon told them that she was here of her own free will," she added.

"Shannon's father showed up to my house with the police on the Sunday before Shannon went home and was trying to take Shannon but because my husband and I had the protection order Shannon could choose who she wanted to be with. Shannon chose to stay with my husband and I."

To date the Cowan family have declined opportunities to comment, as has their US-based attorney.


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