Tuesday, September 25, 2007
ST. GEORGE, Utah — A jury found polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs guilty Tuesday of being an accomplice to rape for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin.Jeffs, the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 2002, faced two counts of rape by accomplice in connection to the arranged marriage at a Caliente, Nev., motel room in 2001.
Jeffs, 51, wearing a suit with a blue striped tie, looked straight ahead with little reaction when the verdict was read.
The now 21-year-old woman testified during the trial that the couple were married for at least a month before they had intercourse, her husband telling her it was “time for you to be a wife and do your duty.”
“My entire body was shaking. I was so scared,” she testified. “He just laid me on the bed and had sex.”
Jeffs previously on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, is viewed by followers as a prophet who talks to God while ex-church members say he demands perfect obedience. Jeffs could get life in prison.
Authorities captured Jeffs in a 2006 traffic stop outside Las Vegas after he was on the run for 18 months.
The verdict was postponed earlier on Tuesday when Fifth District Judge James Shumate replaced a female juror with an alternate juror who had also watched the trial.
The jury deliberated about 16 hours over three days.
Jeffs succeeded his father in 2002 as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Former members say he rules with an iron fist, demanding perfect obedience from followers and exercising the right to arrange marriages as well as break them up and assign new spouses.
The church has a large complex near the West Texas town of Eldorado, about 40 miles south of San Angelo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.