SAN ANGELO, Texas — Abram Harker Jeffs, 39, a member of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, goes to trial today on charges of sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison.
Jeffs’ trial will take place in Eldorado.
Jeffs has also been indicted on a first-degree bigamy charge.
Jeffs is among 12 FLDS members who have been indicted and the sixth to face prosecution to date. Four more men have trials scheduled through December.
Three FLDS men have undergone trial, and two have pleaded no contest.
Evidence gathered against the FLDS men came from an April 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County. Law enforcement personnel searched for a woman who had called saying that she was being abused at the ranch. The authorities now believe the call to have been a hoax.
Authorities collected trailer-loads of evidence, papers, records from various buildings on the ranch. The state also collected DNA evidence, which has been used at each trial to show that the accused men fathered children by their underage victims.
FLDS defense counsel has tried to suppress the evidence gathered from the ranch on grounds that the search warrant was improper.