A jury has found polygamist and FLDS leader Warren Steen Jeffs guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape for his role in arranging a marriage between a then 14-year-old girl and her 19-year old first cousin. The verdict was announced in a Utah courtroom on Tuesday after 16 hours of deliberation by the jury. Jeffs’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for November. The polygamist leader could face anywhere from five years to life in prison.
During the two-week trial, prosecutors argued that Jeffs knew that the girl did not want to marry her cousin and that she would be forced to have sex with him after the wedding.
The victim, now 21, testified against Jeffs during the trial. She said that she begged the FLDS leader not to make her marry her cousin. She claims that Jeffs told her that giving herself to her spouse was her religious duty and that she should submit to her cousin’s will.
Jeffs’s criminal defense team argued that there is no way he could have known that the girl was going to be raped. They claimed that the victim did not clearly articulate the problems that she was having with her husband. Jeffs’s criminal defense lawyers plan to appeal the verdict.
Here is a timeline of key events from the Warren Jeffs case, from the time he was indicted in 2005 to the time of his arrest at a Las Vegas traffic light on August 28, 2006:
June 2005 – A Mohave County, Ariz., grand jury indicts Warren Jeffs on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual misconduct with a minor. He is accused of arranging a polygamous marriage between a teenage girl and an older man. Federal prosecutors in Arizona charge Warren Jeffs with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
July 2005 – Utah and Arizona’s Attorneys General announce a $10,000 reward for information leading to Warren Jeffs’ arrest.
December 2005 – A woman known as “M.J.” files a lawsuit in Cedar City against Warren Jeffs, accusing him of forcing her into a polygamous marriage with an older man.
April 2006 – Warren Jeffs is charged in St. George with rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. He is accused of forcing a teenage girl into a polygamous marriage to an older man. A $500,000 warrant was issued for Jeffs’ arrest.
May 2006 – The U.S. Attorney for Utah files a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution against Warren Jeffs. Warren Jeffs is named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
Aug. 28, 2006 – Warren Jeffs is captured in a traffic stop outside Las Vegas. He is in the company of a brother and one of his wives.
Polygamist ‘prophet’ found guilty of aiding rape, CNN.com, September 25, 2007
Warren Jeffs Timeline, Rickross.com, August 29, 2006
Related Web Resources:
Warren Jeffs and the FLDS, NPR
Related Web Resources:
Sexual Assault and Rape, Norfolk District Attorney’s Office
Sentencing Guidelines Grid, The Massachusetts Court System
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