|Page (1) of 1 - 08/02/11||email article||print page|
Prosecutors play tape of polygamist leader instructing 14-year-old 'spiritual wife' on sex
SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) ' Prosecutors played an audio recording Tuesday of a polygamist sect leader instructing his 14-year-old "spiritual wife" on how to please him sexually, and thus please God.
Warren Jeffs, 55, is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. He is accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, he took as brides in "spiritual marriages."
A doctor and a forensic analyst testified Monday that Jeffs was the father of the 15-year-old's child. Prosecutors played the tape of Jeffs talking to the girl when she was 14 on Tuesday after Texas Ranger Nick Hannah testified about documents and electronic files seized during a 2008 police raid at the church's remote compound in West Texas.
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual crimes.
Among the documents seized was a record of Jeffs' spiritual marriage "for time and all eternity" with the 14-year-old in January 2004. An excerpt from hundreds of pages of Jeffs' personal journals said the child was "pure and innocent and willing to obey" and he summoned her parents and "informed them of their girl belonging to me."
Followers see Jeffs as a prophet who is God's spokesman on earth.
Hannah read from Jeffs' journals, which said he took the 14-year-old the night after their wedding with him and another of his new wives on a car ride outside the church's headquarters along the Utah-Arizona border for "training." There, he instructed them on their responsibilities as his wives and had the session taped. The recording was transcribed and placed in church records later seized by police.
Lead prosecutor Eric Nichols played the tape for jurors, who followed along using transcripts. The recording was difficult to understand due to traffic noise, and the transcript wasn't made public.
"A good wife is trained for her husband and follows the spirit of peace," Jeffs is heard saying. He also makes reference to "drawing close" or "being close," which is how church members refer to sex. Two female voices are heard saying "OK."
In writing about the session in his journal later, Jeffs said he told his wives they were "honorable vessels, property of your husband's kingdom and the Kingdom of God on Earth."
Jeffs has represented himself since firing his high-powered attorneys last week. He objected half a dozen times to the tape being played, arguing that the training session was protected by religious privacy rights. State District Judge Barbara Walther overruled him.
Hannah read excerpts of Jeffs' journal where he described the Lord ordering him to visit Eldorado, Texas, about 45 miles south of San Angelo, and the church purchasing 1,700 acres of land outside the town for $1.2 million in 2003. He called the area "Place of Refuge 17," or R-17.
"This will only be a place of refuge if it is kept sacred and secret," Jeffs wrote, adding that his followers should populate the area and let "a community grow here more in hiding before the neighbors find out."
He told followers to plant cotton and raise animals and said they could build whatever they wanted thanks to Texas' lax zoning laws. Construction teams working around-the-clock erected dozens of buildings, including a sprawling, white-limestone temple.
Texas authorities raided the compound in April 2008 after receiving a call to an abuse hotline that turned out to be a hoax. More than 400 FLDS children who were placed in protective custody were eventually returned to their families.
But police saw underage girls who were clearly pregnant and found Jeffs' journals and the other documents in a vault at the end of a secret passageway in the temple. Another vault in an annex building provided still more records and files.
Jeffs and 11 other FLDS men were charged with crimes including sexual assault and bigamy. So far, all seven who have been prosecuted have been convicted ' receiving prison sentences of between six and 75 years.