ST. GEORGE, Utah – A defense attorney picked over the testimony of a key witness in the trial of a polygamous-sect leader Monday, looking for discrepancies in her story about being under overwhelming pressure to marry an older cousin when she was 14.
During cross-examination, the woman, now 21, was put through a series of yes-or-no questions about many issues, from her civil lawsuit against Warren Jeffs to whether she told her mother about unwanted sex.
‘‘I never told anyone,” the woman replied when asked if she talked about her belief that she was being raped by the 19-year-old cousin.
Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice.
Prosecutors contend Jeffs, 51, used his influence to push the girl into a ceremonial marriage with the cousin in 2001 and force her to have sex.
Jurors last week heard two days of emotional testimony from the woman, who said she sobbed through the wedding in a Nevada motel and had to be coaxed by Jeffs and her mother when asked to say ‘‘I do.”
But defense attorney Tara Isaacson challenged the claim that the woman had sex under duress during a marriage of more than three years. ‘‘Isn’t it true you said you had to sugar-up the situation to get things you wanted?” Isaacson asked.
In response, the woman said she began to use sex to extract privileges from her husband, including money, visits to see family and other trips.
Isaacson portrayed the older cousin as a loving husband who was trying to make the marriage work, giving his teen bride love notes and flowers. He has not been charged.
In photos from the wedding and the honeymoon, she is smiling with her arms around the man whom she has referred to as a ‘‘devil with a pitchfork.”
Isaacson noted a journal entry from 2001 in which the woman wrote about ‘‘pleading with the Lord” to place her with a good man who could lead her in the principles of the FLDS faith.
In counseling her about marriage, Jeffs never specifically directed her to have ‘‘sex” with her husband, the woman testified.