from neezy - Wednesday, September 26, 2007
accessed 550 times
I'm surprised this hasn't already been posted.
US 'prophet' Warren Jeffs guilty in rape case
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles
Last Updated: 2:39am BST 26/09/2007
Warren Jeffs, the polygamous sect leader, faces the prospect of life imprisonment after he was found guilty of rape charges stemming from his role in the arranged marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her older cousin.
Warren Jeffs found guilty of rape charges
Warren Jeffs [left], faces the
prospect of life imprisonment
The 51-year-old self-styled prophet and leader of the Mormon breakaway Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) was convicted on two identical counts of being an accomplice to rape in relation to the 2001 marriage.
The trial in St George, Utah, shone a light on the practices of the secretive polygamous community on the Arizona-Utah border which Jeffs has led since 2002.
Up to 10,000 followers live in the twin towns of Hilldale and Colorado City, practising polygamy and revering Jeffs as a descendant of Jesus Christ who holds sway over their salvation.
Prosecutors accused Jeffs of forcing Elissa Wall, then 14, to marry and have sex with her first cousin, Allen Steed, 19. Lawyers for the sect leader had argued that Jeffs would not have known that rape would be committed after the marriage.
His followers claimed their leader was prosecuted for his religious beliefs, including polygamy, which was renounced by the Mormon church in 1890 and is illegal under US law.
Jeffs was on the FBI's top 10 most wanted list alongside figures such as Osama Bin Laden and on the run for 18 months before being captured in Las Vegas last year.
Under Utah law, a 14-year-old can consent to sex. But sex is not considered consensual if a person under 18 is enticed by someone at least three years older.
Jeffs, who is expected to be sentenced within the next 45 days, also faces charges in Arizona for being an accomplice to both incest and sexual misconduct with a minor for arranging marriages between two underage girls and their relatives.