Just when we think we are on our way to seeing an end to the horrific crime of polygamy in North America; to seeing a modicum of justice done for its victims; and, to seeing our way clear to a new horizon of freedom for its victims, we are sent back to the dark ages.
I, for one, would like to see the transcript of Jeffs trial wherein it proves that prosecutors were motivated by a desire to dismantle the unpopular southern Utah-based church.
Jeffs’ trial had nothing to do with a “church”—it had everything to do with a man performing an illegal marriage ceremony between a minor and a grown man!
I wish every best wish for Elissa Wall, who will have to go through all of this again! Elissa, you have hundreds of people supporting you! People from around the world, people from many networks that join this one. We are the ones who will weld the steel brace of courage down your spine as you have to relive the trauma of what you endured. We are the ones who will watch from every corner of the world. We know the true injustice of this “justice.”
I cannot wait until Texas gets its hands on Warren Steed Jeffs!
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada
Following are articles and comments on the ruling of the Utah Supreme Court today:
Utah court reverses polygamist leader convictions
By JENNIFER DOBNER (AP)
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the convictions of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and ordered a new trial.
Jeffs, 54, was convicted by a southern Utah jury in 2007 of two counts of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 nuptials of Elissa Wall, then 14, to her 19-year-old cousin, Allen Steed.
Jeffs is serving two consecutive terms of five years to life in the Utah State Prison on the convictions, but the high court ruled Tuesday that jury instructions on lack of consent were in error.
Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The group, based on the Utah-Arizona state line, practices polygamy in marriages arranged by church leaders.
Defense attorney Wally Bugden has said the conviction should be overturned because the case facts never fit the charges and that prosecutors were motivated by a desire to dismantle the unpopular southern Utah-based church.
State attorneys contend Jeffs abused his religious authority to force the girl to marry and have sex.
Jeffs performed the couple’s religious marriage in a Caliente, Nev., motel and later counseled Wall to be obedient and give her “mind, body and soul” to her husband.
During the trial and later in her book, “Stolen Innocence,” Wall said she objected to the marriage and was forced into sexual relations with her husband.
“Under Utah law, that makes Warren Jeffs an accomplice to rape,” Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura Dupaix argued before justice last fall.
The Associated Press does not typically name victims of alleged sexual assault, but Wall has frequently spoken publicly about the case.
Also Tuesday, Jeffs is scheduled to appear in 3rd District Court so a judge can ask him to sign a warrant seeking his extradition to Texas to face criminal charges there.
Texas authorities used family records gathered during a 2008 raid on a church ranch near Eldorado to charge Jeffs with bigamy, sexual assault of a child and aggravated assault. The charges allege marriages between Jeffs and girls ages 17 and 15 in 2005.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press last week, Bugden said Jeffs intends to oppose extradition.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
- Warren Jeffs to Get New Trial
AOL News – 31 minutes ago
- Jeffs’ rape conviction overturned
Deseret News – 4 hours ago
- Polygamist’s Convictions Overturned
New York Times – 44 minutes ago
Article sent by Info-Secte of Montreal:
Utah Supreme Court overturns Jeffs convictions, orders new trial
July 27, 2010
By Ashley Hayes, CNN
(CNN) — The Utah Supreme Court has reversed Warren Steed Jeffs’ two convictions on charges of rape as an accomplice and ordered a new trial, saying that instructions given to jurors were erroneous.
Jeffs, the “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life after he was convicted in September 2007. He was accused of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marrying her 19-year-old cousin.
“We regret the effect our opinion today may have on the victim of the underlying crime, to whom we do not wish to cause additional pain,” the court said. “However, we must ensure that the laws are applied evenly and appropriately, in this case as in every case.”
In Jeffs’ trial, Elissa Wall testified that she repeatedly told him at the time that she did not want to be married and was uncomfortable with sexual advances from her husband, Allen Steed. She said Jeffs advised her to pray and submit to her husband, learn to love him and bear his children, or risk losing her “eternal salvation.”
Wall was 21 at the time of Jeffs’ conviction in 2007. Her attorneys made her name public at the end of the trial, with her consent. She is married to someone else and has left the FLDS.
The first count of rape as an accomplice against Jeffs was alleged to have occurred shortly after Wall and Steed were married, when the two first had sex, the Utah Supreme Court opinion said. The second was alleged to have occurred after Jeffs refused to “release” Wall from her marriage and told her to “give herself to [Steed] … mind, body and soul.”
Prosecutors relied on three separate portions of the law defining the circumstances under which sex is non-consensual, the opinion said. Under those portions, the victim must express a lack of consent through words or conduct, the victim must be younger than 18 years, and “the actor” must be in a position of special trust in relation to the victim.
“Jeffs argues that the instruction erroneously focused the jury on Jeffs’ actions and position of special trust, rather than on Steed’s, for the purpose of determining whether Wall consented,” the opinion said.
The justices agreed, saying the jurors should have been asked to consider whether Steed was in a position of special trust and whether Steed lured or induced Wall into having sex.
“The state interprets the term ‘actor’ to mean the ‘defendant,’ ” the opinion said. “We conclude that the state’s interpretation is erroneous.”
“We’re thrilled,” said Jeffs’ defense attorney, Wally Bugden. “We’re overjoyed. We’re ecstatic that the Supreme Court agreed with us. … The state just had the wrong legal theory.”
Jeffs is “an unpopular religious figure in our state,” Bugden said, and the media have “had a field day portraying him as an evil, horrible, pernicious individual.” The court, he said, was able to put that aside and base its decision on the evidence and legal theories, not on emotion, and determine that the erroneous instructions led jurors to “an erroneous result.”
The defense has always maintained that marrying someone, encouraging them to make their marriage work and “be fruitful and multiply … that is not the same thing as saying to a husband, ‘I’m encouraging you to rape your wife,’ ” Bugden said.
He said he had not had a chance to speak to Jeffs but planned to do so Tuesday afternoon.
Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura Dupaix told CNN affiliate KSTU that the opinion is “going to make it difficult, I think, for us to do future prosecutions in cases where some of these men in positions of power — almost complete power, like Warren Jeffs is — to prosecute them for forcing young girls into these marriages. I think that’s really the part of this opinion that is most disappointing for us.”
The justices sent the case back to the lower court for a new trial.
The state has 14 days to request a rehearing with the Utah Supreme Court, said Nancy Volmer, spokeswoman for Utah state courts. The justices would then grant or deny that petition. If a request is not made, the case will be sent back to the trial court within 30 days, and the lower District Court then has 30 days to schedule a hearing.
Jeffs is being held at the Utah State Prison in Draper, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. The issue of whether he should be released pending a new trial would be addressed at the District Court hearing, Volmer said.
However, Bugden said, Jeffs will be transferred back to Washington County in southern Utah, where he was convicted — and closer to the FLDS community. “We will be asking for bail,” he said.
He said he expects Washington County prosecutors to decide quickly whether they want to proceed with the case.
Jeffs had been awaiting trial in Arizona on four charges of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor. But last month, a judge dismissed those charges. Matt Smith, the Mohave County, Arizona, prosecutor, had asked the court to throw out the charges, citing “much more serious charges” against Jeffs in Texas and the desire of his alleged victims that he “face these more serious charges as soon as possible.”
Jeffs was indicted in Texas in 2008 on a felony charge of sexual assault of a child. An indictment accuses Jeffs of assaulting a child “younger than 17 years of age and not legally married to the defendant” in January 2005. If convicted on the Texas charges, Jeffs could face a maximum penalty of five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of $10,000.
The FLDS drew national attention when Jeffs was arrested during a routine traffic stop in August 2006. At the time, he was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
The sect is a 10,000-member offshoot of the mainstream Mormon church. Its members openly practice polygamy at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, and in two towns straddling the Utah-Arizona state line: Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. Critics of the sect say young girls are forced into “spiritual” marriages with older men and are sexually abused. Sect members have denied that any sexual abuse takes place.
Jeffs had led the sect since his father’s death in 2002.
CNN video on today’s announcement:
From k.Dee Ignatin, Americans Against Abuses of Polygamy: Flora Jessop’s comment when reached at her home in Phoenix today was
“My message to all victims in Utah and Arizona is get out while you can because there is no justice here. The only victims that will get justice, especially the ones associated with the crimes in polygamy, is if they get to Texas.”
From Jancis Andrews, Member-at-Large, Stop Polygamy in Canada: Hello Nancy …. how insidious evil is, and how easily and frequently it triumphs! When in the hell are the courts going to deal properly with this criminal and keep him in jail? Jancis
From author Andrea Moore Emmett, God’s Brothel: “Utah proves once again that they’re all right with rape of children and forced marriages in polygamy….Warren Jeffs previous trial is overturned and is getting a new trial.”
From Kathleen Mackert, founder of the Valerie Jeffs Mackert Gateway to Freedom Foundation, “OMG!!! When will Utah pull their head out of the sand and do something to protect women and children?”