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Polygamist Leader Threatens Jury With “Sickness and Death”

Polygamist Leader Threatens Jury With “Sickness and Death”

 

The trial of Warren Jeffs, the infamous Mormon sect leader accused of sexually assaulting two young girls he took as “brides,” began with a bang last week.  After firing his lawyers and declaring that he would defend himself, Jeffs delivered a fiery sermon in the courtroom on Friday.

After the jury had left the room, he announced, “There will be a judgment against all those who prosecute the church…I shall let all people know of your unjust ways. I will bring sickness and death.”

The judge, understandably, was perturbed by Jeffs’ threats, and told him that if he called “for the jury’s destruction” while the jury was present, he would be asked to leave the courtroom.

In 2002, Jeffs became the leader of the breakaway Mormon sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), which boasts 10,000 members.  The sect split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), today’s mainstream Mormons, in the late nineteenth-century when the LDS officially renounced polygamy.  FLDS members are strong proponents of polygamy, and Jeffs, as their leader, has sweeping power over marriages within his communities.  He regards himself as God’s prophet, which is perhaps why he is so comfortable turning a courtroom into a pulpit.

In many cases, underage girls are married to much older men.  In a 2008 raid on Jeffs’ Yearning for Zion ranch in Texas, police witnessed several visibly pregnant underage girls.  Eric Nichols, a Texas prosecutor, says that he has audio recordings of Jeffs having sex with a 12-year-old girl, and DNA evidence that Jeffs fathered the child of a 15-year-old FLDS member.  Jeffs claims that there was no crime, because he and the girls had a “spiritual marriage bond.”

If convicted, Jeffs could receive a 119-year prison sentence.  But some former FLDS members say that it’s highly likely that Jeffs regards himself as a martyr.  Elissa Wall, a former FLDS and the author of Stolen Innocence, a memoir in which she accused Jeffs of being an accomplice to her rape by her first husband, Allen, to whom she was forcibly married at the age of 14, says that the courtroom is simply a stage for Jeffs.

“This is kind of his last stand and his last show, and he has an entire people he has to prove a point to,” she explained.  In 2007, Wall’s testimony was integral to Jeffs’ conviction as an accomplice to rape, but the convictions were later overturned.  Jeffs faces another trial for bigamy in October.

It seems unlikely that, if the prosecutors’ evidence is as convincing as they say, Jeffs will escape punishment this time.  What Jeffs is trying to do is make his trial into a debate over religious freedom, rather than sexual assault.  If he continues to call for the jury’s death and destruction, however, it seems unlikely that the judge will let him get away with preaching in the courtroom.

Related Stories:

Mormon Fundamentalist “Sister Wives” Challenge Utah Bigamy Law

Polygamist’s Rape Convictions Overturned by Utah Court

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo from Randy Mankin via Wikimedia Commons.

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3:37PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Separation of church and state...maybe Warren Jeffs might be welcome as a deacon in the Catholic church.

3:19AM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

By allowing this bigoted child abuser to preach in open court, it has to be said that this provides a stage for him to prove to all and sundry just how much of a dick he is..so he will bring death etc will he? Who the hell does he think he is- GOD? It will be good to get this piece of human detritus banged up- and his equally kinky cohorts!

8:13PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

Since this child rapist is defending himself, he may get away with some preaching, but I agree with Lloyd. It'll just give the jury that much more reason to find him a guilty as sin.

8:38AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

No Cult Sermons in Court-No Religious Sermons in Court. This slug is not a Prophet, Preacher, Priest, Vicar, Rabbi, Iman, etc. This slug is a Child Molester. I have read that these people are not only multiplying but they are very busy taking Welfare, Food Stamps and whatever else is available to them thereby diverting it from others whose only misfortune is being down on their luck. Break up this cult and prosecute other members who are also child molesters. We are always hearing about marriage being between one man and one woman so lets use the wacky tea party slogan and apply it here or maybe there is some reason that those in power are not commenting on this--could there be money in it somewhere for them.

3:21PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

It is to bad that people in such places feel they can do what ever they want.

I call karma on him and any other person doing such wrong doing.

'what goes around, comes around'. Usually multiple times.

3:09PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

This is not a church vs state issue. This is a child rapist using religion and God as an excuse for his lifestyle. He should be the one worrying about judgement. He gives all religions a BAD name.

12:32PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

Enough with the ridiculous excuses for this suck f&$k! Jeffs is a depraved pathetic excuse for a "man". There is mo room left on the planet for psychos like Warren who can't be rehabbed. Throw Jeffs in the prison general population and let him experience what he did to so many innocent kids. He and others like him are the epitome of the word coward. Can't program a woman and control her but you can to a child. Good riddance!!!

12:32PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

Enough with the ridiculous excuses for this suck f&$k! Jeffs is a depraved pathetic excuse for a "man". There is mo room left on the planet for psychos like Warren who can't be rehabbed. Throw Jeffs in the prison general population and let him experience what he did to so many innocent kids. He and others like him are the epitome of the word coward. Can't program a woman and control her but you can to a child. Good riddance!!!

9:53AM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

Warren Jeffs is a child rapist and a dangerous ideologue who hides behind religious freedom as an excuse to behave like a primitive beast - he deserves to be locked away forever.

Anyone who sees fit to defend his belief system or actions is just as sick and evil in my opinion. The Mormon church is a fabricated pseudo-religion just as Scientology is and has a lot of blood on its hands. I feel sorry for the women and children who are trapped in this life under the iron rule of the insecure men who benefit most from adherence to this ridiculous faith.

I highly recommend the book 'Under The Banner of Heaven - A Story of Violent Faith' by Jon Krakauer. The bibliography is also a great resource for additional reading about the horrible acts perpetrated by its followers.

9:02AM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

There has been much variation in the age of adulthood and in the age of consent for sex over the centuries and over the world. Still, this is the United States of America in the 21st century and neither polygamy nor a child bride is acceptable here and now.

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