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article imageReligious leader Warren Jeffs guilty of child rape

By Samuel Okocha     Aug 5, 2011 in Crime
A polygamist religious leader Warren Jeff, who acted as his own lawyer after firing his legal team at the start of his trial, has been found guilty of child rape.
Jeffs who heads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints [FLDS] stood stone-faced as his verdict was read, ABC reports. Prosecutors had presented DNA evidence showing Jeffs fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl who lived at a Texas compound raided by police in 2008. It was there, Jeffs ran the FLDS sect.
A jury found Jeffs, the leader of the radical polygamist sect of Mormonism, guilty of forcing two teenage girls into ''spiritual marriage,'' and fathering a child with one of them at age 15. The sexual assault charges is said to carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Proceedings at the trial revealed 24 of Jeff's 78 marriages were with girls under the age of 17. Prosecutors told District Court Judge Barbara Walther that is one reason why he should get maximum sentence of life in prison. They argue that what happened with the two girls he was convicted of assaulting was not an isolated incident.
''I think there are a lot of healing that has got to be done. And I think there are a whole lot more victims than this--than two that came out in this trial, '' says Willie Jessop, a former FLDS member. “And I think that justice was served”
Jeffs believes, Sexual contact with his wives revives him spiritually and brings the girls closer to God. His sect had 72 years ago broken off from the mainstream Mormon Church. His 10,000 followers across North America see him as a prophet and God's spokesman on earth.
During his trial, Jeffs tried to portray his ordeal as a form of religious persecution as he accused the police of discriminating against the West Texas compound because members were acting differently from mainstream society.
But officials did not buy it.
''A sexual assault of a 12-year-old and 15-year-old girl has nothing whatsoever to do with religious persecution," ABC quoted Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot as saying. ''If anybody of any religious background comes to Texas and sexually assaults young girls, they are going to be investigated and prosecuted regardless of what their religious background is."
In an outburst prompted by a DNA testimony, Jeffs sought to defend the sanctity of his “religious practices.”
''We are not a fly-by-night religious society,'' he said. ''We are a community of faith and principles, and those principles are so sacred. They belong to God, not to man and the governments of man.''
Prosecutors nailed their case against Jeffs by presenting an August 2006 audio recording of what Jeffs' called a ''heavenly comfort'' training session with three of his so-called ''spiritual wives.''
According to ABC, Texas Ranger Nick Hanna testified the recording was found when Jeffs was arrested during a traffic stop in Nevada a few weeks later. Another copy was found at the yearning for Zion ranch when it was raided in 2008.
The recording was made at the Yearning for Zion ranch n Texas, owned by the FLDS. It begins with Jeffs asking one of the females, who was exactly 12 years, one month, and three days old when the recording was made, how she feels.
''Feels good,'' she responds, according to a copy of transcript reviewed by ABC News.
''Everyone else let go of me, back away a little,'' Jeffs says soon after. ''Please get on the other side of the bed."
''You shall learn the power of the spirit of God as a heavenly wife should, ''Jeffs tells the 12-year-old. ''Let the heavenly comfort hear us. ''We bless you, by the Lord, and feel his presence.''
Throughout the 20-minute tape, ABC reports there are periods where sounds described by the transcript as ''rhythmic heavy breathing'' can be heard.
As the session ends, Jeffs begins to pray.'' Behold father these three ladies, innocent and pure,'' he says. ''We thank you for these gifts and join in a prayer of oneness.''
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