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|“||I am not the prophet. I never was the prophet||„|
|~ Warren durring a prison interview|
Warren Steed Jeffs (born December 3rd, 1955) was the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or FLDS ) and a convicted rapist.
Unlike the mainstream Mormon church, which had rejected polygamous marriage - especially marriage where one of the parties was underage, Jeffs and the FDLS practiced both. Jeffs first began leading the church in 2002 upon the death of his father Rulon. Jeffs believed himself to be a descendant of both Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith. Jeffs exercised almost complete control over the FDLS community as he set himself up as the sole person able to perform marriages, with the ability to punish disobedient men by taking their women and children and "assigning" them to someone else. Jeffs would at times exile members of the community - usually young men - because they were seen as competition by Jeffs and his supporters.
In March of 2006 Jeffs earned a spot on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List when he fled Utah to avoid prosecution for arranging marriages between older men and underage women. He was captured in August 2006 in Nevada, and was taken to Utah for trial. In the Utah trial he was found guilty, but the convictions were reversed the following year because of incorrect jury instructions.
Following the reversal of the Utah charges, Arizona also dismissed their pending charges against Jeffs. However his luck would not continue to hold. Jeffs was charged with having intercourse with two underage girls. In the trial Jeffs represented himself, and generally made a thoroughly unlikeable ass of himself to both the judge and jury. He was found guilty in August of 2011. During the sentencing phase of the trial a niece and nephew testified about the years of abuse Jeffs had put them through. Jeffs was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In July 2004, Jeffs' nephew, Brent Jeffs, filed a lawsuit alleging that Jeffs had anally raped him in the FLDS Church's Salt Lake Valley compound in the late 1980s. Brent wrote the memoir Lost Boy, along with author Maia Szalavitz, which recounts alleged incidents of child sexual abuse inflicted upon him by Jeffs, his brothers, and other family members, committed when Brent was aged 5 or 6. Brent's brother Clayne committed suicide after accusing Jeffs of sexually assaulting him as a child. Two of Jeffs' nephews, and two of Jeffs' own children, have also publicly claimed to have been sexually abused by him.
In June 2005, Jeffs was charged in Mohave County, Arizona, with sexual assault on a minor and with conspiracy to commit sexual misconduct with a minor for allegedly arranging, in April 2001, a marriage between a then-14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin, Allen. The young girl, Elissa Wall (then known as "Jane Doe IV", and the younger sister of Rebecca Wall), testified that she begged Rulon Jeffs to let her wait until she was older or choose another man for her. The elder Jeffs was apparently "sympathetic", but his son was not, and she was forced to go through with the marriage. Wall alleged that Allen often raped her and that she repeatedly miscarried. She eventually left Allen and the community.
In July 2005, the Arizona Attorney General's office distributed wanted posters offering $10,000 for information leading to Jeffs' arrest and conviction. On 28 October, Jeffs' brother Seth was arrested under suspicion of harboring a fugitive. During a routine traffic stop in Pueblo County, Colorado, police found nearly $142,000 in cash, $7,000 worth of prepaid debit cards and personal records. During Seth's court case, FBI Agent Andrew Stearns testified that Seth had told him that he did not know where his older brother was and that he would not reveal his whereabouts if he did. Seth was convicted of harboring a fugitive on 1 May 2006. On 14 July, he was sentenced to three years' probation and a $2,500 fine.
On 5 April 2006, Utah issued an arrest warrant for Jeffs on felony charges of accomplice rape of a teenage girl between 14 and 18 years old. Shortly after, on 6 May, the FBI placed Jeffs on its Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, offering a $60,000 reward. He was the 482nd fugitive listed on the list. The reward was soon raised to $100,000, and the public was warned that "Jeffs may travel with a number of loyal and armed bodyguards".
On 8 June 2006, Jeffs returned to Colorado City to perform more "child-bride marriages." On 27 May 2008, The Smoking Gun website released images of Jeffs with two underage wives, one of whom was 12 years old, celebrating one-year anniversaries in 2005 and 2006.
On 28 August 2006, around 9 p.m. PDT, Jeffs was pulled over on Interstate 15 in Clark County, Nevada, by highway trooper Eddie Dutchover because the temporary license plates on his red 2007 Cadillac Escalade were not visible. One of Jeffs' wives, Naomi Jessop, and his brother, Isaac, were with him. Jeffs possessed four computers, sixteen cell phones, disguises (including three wigs and twelve pairs of sunglasses), and more than $55,000 in cash. Jeffs' wife and brother were questioned and released.
In a Nevada court hearing on 31 August, Jeffs waived extradition and agreed to return to Utah to face two first-degree felony charges of accomplice rape. Each charge carries an indeterminate penalty of five years to life in prison. Arizona prosecutors were next in line to try Jeffs. He was held in the Washington County jail, pending an 23 April 2007 trial on two counts of rape, as an accomplice for his role in arranging the marriage between Elissa Wall and her first cousin.
Jeffs was believed to be leading his group from jail, and a Utah state board has expressed dissatisfaction in dealing with Hildale police, believing that many members of the force had ties to Jeffs, so therefore did not cooperate. In May and July 2007, Jeffs was indicted in Arizona on eight counts, including sexual conduct with a minor and incest.
Jeffs' trial began on 11 September 2007 in St. George, Utah, with Judge James L. Shumate presiding. Jeffs was housed in Utah's Purgatory Correctional Facility in solitary confinement for the duration. At the culmination of the trial, on 25 September, Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape. He was sentenced to prison for ten years to life and began serving his sentence at the Utah State Prison. On 27 July 2010, the Utah Supreme Court, citing deficient jury instructions, reversed Jeffs' convictions and ordered a new trial. The court found that the trial judge should have told the jury that Jeffs could not be convicted unless he intended for Elissa's husband to engage in nonconsensual sex with her. Elissa subsequently wrote an autobiography on her experiences in the FLDS Church and with Jeffs entitled Stolen Innocence. The book was co-authored with former New York Times journalist Lisa Pulitzer.
Jeffs was also scheduled to be tried in Arizona. He had entered a not-guilty plea on 27 February 2008, to sex charges stemming from the arranged marriages of three teenage girls to older men. He was transported to the Mohave County jail to await trial. On 9 June 2010, a state judge, at the request of Mohave County prosecutor Matt Smith, dismissed all charges with prejudice. Smith said that the Arizona victims no longer wanted to testify, and that Jeffs had spent almost two years in jail awaiting trial — more than he would have received had he been convicted. Combined with the pending charges against Jeffs in Texas, Smith concluded that "it would be impractical and unnecessary" to try Jeffs in Arizona. Jeffs was then returned to Utah; at the time, his appeal of the 2007 conviction was still pending.
On 9 August 2011, Jeffs was convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child and sentenced to life in prison. Warren Jeffs, Texas Department of Criminal Justice #01726705, will be eligible for parole on 22 July 2038.