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Sect leader indicted on sexual conduct with minor, incest charges

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« on: July 13, 2007, 03:22:08 pm »

Sect leader indicted on sexual conduct with minor, incest charges
Story Highlights
In May, polygamist leader indicted on charges in 2002 case

On Thursday, he's indicted on additional counts in 2003 case

Both indictments state that Jeffs committed offenses "as an accomplice"

Jeffs is leader of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Next Article in U.S.

(CNN) -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Steed Jeffs, who is awaiting trial in southern Utah, was charged with eight additional felony counts from Arizona in two separate cases, authorities said Thursday.

Polygamist Warren Jeffs is facing eight additional counts related to alleged incest and sexual contact with a minor.

 A grand jury indicted Jeffs May 10 on two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of incest for alleged incidents that occurred in 2002, according to a statement issued by Mohave County Attorney Matthew J. Smith.

On Thursday, another grand jury indicted him on two additional counts of sexual conduct with a minor and two additional counts of incest. Those offenses took place in Colorado City, Arizona, in 2003, according to the indictment.

Both indictments state that Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), committed the offenses "as an accomplice."

According to Arizona law, sexual conduct with a minor is a Class 6 felony punishable upon conviction by up to a year in prison. Incest is a class 4 felony punishable upon conviction by up to 2 years in prison.

"The cases involve two separate victims," Smith said in the statement. "Mr. Jeffs will not come to Mohave County to face these charges or to have an initial appearance on them until his Utah case is resolved."

Jeffs, 51, is awaiting trial in Washington County, Utah, on a charge of being an accomplice to **** by arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin.

The trial initially was set to begin in April, but Fifth District Judge James Shumate postponed it earlier this year, and a new date has not been set. At the time, Shumate said the delay was due to "recent information in the case," but he did not elaborate.

The judge in March refused a defense request to move the trial out of Washington County because of press coverage, but he said he may reconsider if attorneys encounter difficulty during jury selection.

Utah prosecutors say that because Jeffs forced the underage girl to marry, and therefore forced her to have sex with the adult man, and because Jeffs insisted she stay married, he is an accomplice to ****.

During his preliminary hearing in December, Jeffs' defense attorneys said that he never knew whether the marriage he arranged was consummated and, if it was, whether the sex was consensual.

The girl, identified only as Jane Doe, testified at the preliminary hearing that she was "so scared" during the forced wedding.

"The whole time I was crying," she said. "I wanted to die."

The **** as an accomplice charge is a first-degree felony in Utah, carrying a penalty upon conviction of five years to life in prison.

Jeffs previously was charged in Arizona with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor for allegedly presiding over arranged marriages, along with an additional charge of conspiracy.

Those charges, from 2005, were put on hold while Jeffs faces trial in Utah.

Jeffs was captured August 28, 2006, in a traffic stop near Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time, he had been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List for months.

The FLDS freely practices polygamy in the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, which straddle the state line. The sect maintains groups of followers in Texas, South Dakota, Nevada, British Columbia and Mexico.

The offshoot sect broke from the mainline Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, over the practice of polygamy.

The Mormon church, which gave up plural marriage more than a century ago, has no ties to Jeffs' group. E-mail to a friend
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