FLDS' Jeffs to Stand Trial

"Prophet" accused of abetting rape by arranging and presiding over the 2001 "spiritual marriage" of a 14-year-girl and her 19-year-old first cousin

Concluding that the child bride referred to in court documents as Jane Doe No. 4 "expressed her disdain, reluctance, opposition and total dislike of sexual relations," Utah District Judge James Shumate ruled Dec. 14 that Warren Jeffs, the "prophet" leader of the polygamist Mormon breakaway sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will stand trial on charges of rape-as-accomplice. Jeffs, 51, is accused of abetting rape by arranging and presiding over the 2001 "spiritual marriage" of Doe, then 14, and her 19-year-old first cousin. (For more on the FLDS, see "Meet the New Neighbors," July 29, 2005.)

After two days in court – spread over two months – for a hearing on whether the state has enough evidence to try Jeffs for the rape charge, Shumate ruled that the trial will go forward, starting April 27. Jeffs immediately entered a plea of not guilty; his lawyer, Wally Bugden, told reporters that the state charges against Jeffs amount to religious persecution. "Shame on the state," he told Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News. "There was no rape in this case. Mr. Jeffs is not on trial for practicing polygamy. The religious counsel he gave to this couple is no different from what religious leaders of other religions tell their faithful every day across America."

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Warren Jeffs, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FLDS

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