Trial in polygamy case on hold after alleged victim won’t testify

KINGMAN, Ariz. — The sexual assault trial of a member of a polygamous sect was thrown into disarray Tuesday when the alleged victim refused to answer questions.

Judge Steven Conn found witness Candi Shapley, 20, in contempt and considered jailing her for refusing to testify against Randolph Barlow, 33.

Instead, Conn agreed to a recommendation from Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith that Shapley be placed in a home for abused women for 30 days. He told her she should consider herself in custody and ordered her to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.

Barlow is charged with two counts of sexual assault for his spiritual marriage with Shapley when she was 16. Two other charges against the 33-year-old Colorado City man were dismissed before trial.

The judge said he was ready to jail Shapley to “purge her contemptuous conduct” after she repeatedly refused to testify about her relationship with Barlow. He delayed resumption of the non-jury trial until Sept. 26.

Her actions surprised prosecutors because Shapley had cooperated with authorities while other alleged victims in a string of prosecutions of men from the towns of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, hadn’t. She helped investigators gather evidence and testified before a grand jury.

She took the stand Tuesday but repeatedly refused to answer questions.

“She does not like the way she has been treated throughout the process,” her lawyer, Mick Jorhadl, told the judge.

Conn took several recesses to confer with defense attorneys and Smith before finding her in contempt.

Smith said he had no indication that Shapley would not testify, and noted that her mother, Esther Shapley, was in court. He said she and other family members may have influenced Shapley’s decision.

The prosecutor said the elder Shapley had made statements before that she would do whatever she needed to do to keep her daughter from testifying or harming the leader of the sect, Warren Jeffs.

Barlow is a member of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that practices polygamy. His is the second case to go to trial.

Barlow’s trial started Tuesday morning, just hours after it was learned that Jeffs had been arrested outside Las Vegas on a federal fugitive warrant.

The first case ended in the conviction of Kelly Fischer last month. The victim refused to cooperate in that case so the prosecution presented birth certificates showing Fischer, then 33, was the father of a child whose mother was 17 when she gave birth in 2001.

Kelly Fischer, 39, was sentenced to 45 days in jail, three years probation and required to register as a sex offender.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
AP, via, USA
Aug. 29, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday August 30, 2006.
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