Warren Steed Jeffs, the leader and prophet of the country’s biggest polygamist sect, is about to stand trial for accomplice to rape. Jeffs’s accuser, a woman under police protection, was 14 years old when Jeffs forced her to take part in a “spiritual marriage” with her 19-year-old first cousin-despite her wish that she not marry him. Jeffs married the couple in Las Vegas. The marriage, however, was not sanctioned by the state of Nevada.
Jeffs is charged with two felony counts of rape as an accomplice. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. The fourth day of jury selection ended today.
The girl told police that she was uncomfortable with her husband’s sexual demands, but that Jeffs advised her that to obey him was her spiritual duty. According to Jeffs, not obeying her spouse would cause her to lose her salvation. He also referred to her husband as her spiritual leader.
Jeffs is the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FDLS). There are more than 8,000 FDLS members. Many girls, as young as age 13, are forced to marry men chosen by FDLS leaders. Men need at least three wives to get to heaven and women must have one baby a year.
About 70 followers are listed as possible witnesses for his trial. Former FDLS followers say that child molestation, incest, and spousal abuse are common within the FDLS community.
For 115 days, Jeffs was included on the list of the FBI’s Most Wanted. He was apprehended in Las Vegas in August 2006. Following his trial in Utah, Jeffs will have to answer to arrest charges in Arizona.
Accomplice to Rape
Being charged as an accomplice to rape means that Jeffs isn’t’ charged with physically rape the girl. He is charged because he forced a minor to marry an older man.
Polygamist prophet is now a criminal defendant, CNN.com, September 12, 2007
Prophet or accomplice to rape?, Winnipeg Free Press, September 9, 2007
Polygamist in Utah court on Rape charge, USA Today, November 22, 2006
Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Appears in Court, CNN, November 21, 2006
Related Web Resources:
Wanted by the FBI, FBI.gov
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