Judge to decide if polygamous sect leader will face trial
A judge in Utah willdecide next month whether the leader of North America's largest polygamous sect should stand trial on charges of being an accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of an underage girl.
A preliminary hearinghas concluded inSt. George, Utah,intotheallegations againstWarren Jeffs, 50,head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which includes the small B.C. community of Bountiful.
The young woman at the centre of the case has testified she was only 14 when Jeffs informed her it was God's will that she marry her 19-year-old cousin in 2001.
She testified on Tuesday that she made it clear to Jeffs and many others in the church that she wasn't ready to be married.
She tearfully recalled for the court the first time her new husband forced her to have sex, saying she didn't know anything about sexual intercourse.
"I said, 'What are you doing?' And he said, 'I'm doing what I'm supposed to. This is what I'm supposed to do to you, you are my wife. We're going to have children and this is what has to be done.'"
The woman's older sister, Theresa Blackmore of Bountiful, also testified against Jeffs at Tuesday's preliminary hearing.
Blackmore told the court her sister made it clear to Jeffs and others that she did not want to marry her 19-year-old cousin. But she said Jeffs ignored her concerns.
Blackmore said there was a disturbing evening when her sister was visiting her in Bountiful, saying she found her in the kitchen late at night crying, after leaving the bed she'd been sharing with her husband.
"He basically forced her to have sex. She didn't want to," said Blackmore.
More about religion than rape: defence lawyer
But defence lawyer Wally Budgen said that doesn't make Jeffs an accomplice to rape, and argued that his client probably would not have been charged if he weren't the leader of a polygamous sect.
"It is nothing less than the state of Utah condemning a culturally different religion. It is a continuation of 165 years of religious intolerance for people who engage in different cultural and religious practices."
Meanwhile, Arizona prosecutors have laid different sexual misconduct charges against Jeffs and the young woman at the centre of the Utah case has launched a civil suit against Jeffs.