By all accounts, Warren Jeffs considered himself a Prophet and the voice of God. But a jury of his peers convicted him of child sexual assault charges stemming from two child brides he had taken during his time as head of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) community in West Texas, reports the Associated Press.
Jeffs, who acted as his own attorney, because he had fired his seven previous attorneys, did not perform too well during the trial, the Associated Press reported earlier. And threatening the judge and jury with divine punishment did not prevent the prosecutor from introducing evidence that he had fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl.
The FLDS compound, ironically located in Eldorado, Texas, was raided in 2008, after an anonymous tip out of Utah. For a brief time Jeffs was removed of leadership of his community in favor of Merril Jessop, another polygamist.
A polygamist marriage is not recognized under the law, and if registered then upon discovery it would be "annulled" -- as if the marriage never took place. Annulment is not the same thing as a divorce, because getting a divorce implies that a marriage was valid to begin with.
Recently, there has been some attempt by polygamous couples to challenge the laws that criminalize multiple marriages. The polygamist family featured on the TLC show "Sister Wives" has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Utah's criminal bigamy law, writes FindLaw's Courtside blog.
Fundamentalist Mormons are not the only ones that include a provision for polygamy in their religious law. Certain Muslim groups also support polygamy, though many consider polygamy a metaphor for caring for widows and orphans. And no Muslims came to Jeffs defense.
In any event, as a result of the sex abuse conviction, Warren Jeffs will be headed to jail, likely for the rest of his life.
- Find a Houston Family Law attorney (FindLaw)
- Texas Polygamist Sect Leader Warren Jeffs Fires Another Attorney (FindLaw's Houston Family Law blog)
- Several Utah Cases Challenge Whether Anti-Polygamy Laws Are Constitutional (FindLaw's Writ)