Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Polygamist Warren Jeffs Convicted As Accomplice to Rape By Forcing 14 Year-Old to Marry 19 Year-Old Cousin


Warren Jeffs has been the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christs of Latter Day Saints since 2002. The evidence in his trial looks like an episode of Big Love on HBO. Jeff's defense attorney's argued that the prosecution of a polygamous sect leader was religious persecution. Nevertheless, the jury convicted him as an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old to marry her 19-year-old cousin in 2001. Warren Jeffs can now be sentenced from five years to life for each of the two felony charges of accomplice to rape. The victim told reporters,"this trial has not been about religion or a vendetta. It was simply about child abuse and preventing abuse." The woman is now 21. A former member of the community is interviewed in a CNN Headline News report linked here.

Followers of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints consider Jeffs as a prophet. He allegedly performed the ceremony and forced the girl into marriage despite her objections. Jurors also agreed that Jeffs rejected the girl's pleas to be released from the marriage when she complained about relations with her husband.

Defense attorney Wally Bugden, told jurors that Jeffs was a victim of religious persecution.
The jury deliberated for 16 hours over three days. On Tuesday a juror was replaced with an alternate for undisclosed reasons. The victim is now 21 years old. Her former husband, Allen Steed is 26 years old. He testified that his bride was the one to first initiate sex. The alleged victim disagreed, claiming that they were married at least a month before they had intercourse and then it was because her husband told her, it was "time for you to be a wife and do your duty." Afterward, she claimed that she went into the bathroom and took two bottles of over-the-counter pain reliever. "The only thing I wanted to do was die," she said.

Under Utah law, a 14-year-old can consent to sex in some circumstances. But sex is not considered consensual if a person under 18 is enticed by someone at least three years older. Steed was not charged with a crime.

The couple was granted an FLDS divorce (a release) in 2004 when the victim became pregnant with another man's child. (She has since left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith. ) Members of the FLDS practice polygamy in marriages arranged by the church prophet. Polygamy was not on trial here! Polygamy was abandoned by mainstream Mormons as condition of statehood in 1890. The Mormon church excommunicates known polygamists. The Mormon church disavows any connection with the estimated 30,000 self-described Mormon fundamentalist who continue to practice polygamy.

In Arizona, Jeffs is charged with eight felonies for being an accomplice to incest and sexual misconduct with minors in connection with marriages involving two underage girls. Jeffs is also under federal indictment in Utah for fleeing to avoid prosecution.
Update 4-11-08: Nearly 60 men knelt around the temple of a polygamist sect in Texas. They prayed and wept as law enforcement officers raided the building. Two people were arrested. One man allegedly tried to resist entry to the temple and was quickly arrested. Another allegedly attempted to destroy evidence. Both were released from jail on cash bonds. 416 children were taken into state custody.
The compound was founded by Warren Steed Jeffs. The compound is associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

17 comments:

Jill said...

.


This is not even real... it is an episode of Big Love. How can anyone say it is not about religion? It is. Now something is not legal just because it is done as part of religion.

Is it child abuse? Yes. Is it legal ? No. Is it part of their religion? Yes. Should he go to jail? Yes.

Hope I covered it all


Jill

Ms. Calabaza said...

Agreed.
Still, the whole thing is pretty sick to think about.

Did You Stop to Think? said...

The followers are always what get me. Some of these people... really, all you need is a pipe and you could them the way of the rats.

Kelly said...

But yet, does our country not promote freedom of choice and freedom of religion. Did not our forefathers demand separation of church and State?


Kelly

Ron said...

Pubmeister,

Thanks for exposing this strange religious group, who do seem much different from the Mormons I have met. Hard to believe there are 30,000 of them out there. Maybe some of the fundamentalists will post here. Very strange story, and it is not always this clear that government should step in and break up these types of groups.

colleency said...

It's not about expression of religion - it's about child abuse and rape.

If it was about polygamy, Jeffs would have been charged with perfomring hundreds (?) of polygamous marriages.

Live and let live - unless it involves abuse of a child.

Jeremiah said...

Colleency, then why are the parents not prosecuted for child abuse and rape since they apparently consented to the marriage?


Jeremiah

Jeremiah said...

Colleency, then why are the parents not prosecuted for child abuse and rape since they apparently consented to the marriage?


Jeremiah

Anonymous said...

It is plain discriminatory. If you have a religion that allows early marriage and laws that allow underage marriage with the consent of parents, I don't see how it is any thing other than blatant religious discrimination.

She later wanted out. Jeffs frowns on divorce so she screams child abuse. No complaints were made public until she wanted out of the marriage.

Seems to me Big Brother is fiddling in a religious issue!


Sally

Anonymous said...

It is plain discriminatory. If you have a religion that allows early marriage and laws that allow underage marriage with the consent of parents, I don't see how it is any thing other than blatant religious discrimination.

She later wanted out. Jeffs frowns on divorce so she screams child abuse. No complaints were made public until she wanted out of the marriage.

Seems to me Big Brother is fiddling in a religious issue!


Sally

Anonymous said...

It is plain discriminatory. If you have a religion that allows early marriage and laws that allow underage marriage with the consent of parents, I don't see how it is any thing other than blatant religious discrimination.

She later wanted out. Jeffs frowns on divorce so she screams child abuse. No complaints were made public until she wanted out of the marriage.

Seems to me Big Brother is fiddling in a religious issue!


Sally

colleency said...

Jeremiah - Is it 'parental consent' if the consent is given to a religous leader, against the child's wishes? (I have no idea if they even still had parental rights - or if they had assigned their rights over to The Prophet.)If they forced her into the marriage, then they should be prosecuted as well.

Sally - Laws allowing underaged marriage are not quite the same thing as forcing a child to get married. And - if you are a member of a religion that allows adulterous women to be stoned to death, should you be allowed to do that here, too?

IMHO - whoever was responsible for forcing a 14-yr old to marry, against her wishes, and have sex, against her wishes, should be prosecuted.

Jeremiah said...

14 year olds are considered adults within the religion. No marriage ever takes place without the consent of both parties. If a party is below the age of 18, then their parent must consent unless they are emancipated.

This is an attack on religion through the back door. This is a member who wanted out of the marriage and her leader said no. Because her leader initially said no, it appears that she then took the "legal route" to annulment because of lack of consent. This soon turned into a child abuse case. No one is for marriage at any age against one's will. But arranged marriages have been the norm in many societies and many of these matches are believed to be made in heaven.

Have a pleasant weekend.

Jeremiah

Ron said...

Jeremiah,

You make some good points and seem to have some insights into this situation. Do you know Warren Jeffs personally? Do you feel he is innocent of these charges?

jeremiah said...

Ron, yes, I think Jeffs committed no crime.

Jeremiah

Anonymous said...

We need to go back to the basics of our constitution and the bill of rights that provides freedom of religion.

Anonymous said...

Get real. Polygamy is just for men who can't commit ...