Reluctant Polygamy witness criticizes system

KINGMAN, Ariz. — The key witness in the trial of an alleged polygamist from Colorado City wrote a letter to the judge in the case complaining about the way prosecutors have treated her and expressing her anger at being used to help bring down polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

Candi Shapley is the alleged victim of Randolph Barlow, 33, who is charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor for his “spiritual marriage” to her when she was underage. His trial resumes Tuesday.

Shapley also has been called a key witness in the Mohave County prosecution of Jeffs, the leader of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, based in Colorado City and nearby Hildale, Utah.

Jeffs, 50, was captured Aug. 28 outside Las Vegas after more than a year on the run. In addition to charges in Arizona related to arranging plural marriages between teenage girls and older men, he is facing two more felony counts of rape as an accomplice in Washington County, Utah, for a similar incident. Each Utah count carries a penalty of five years to life in prison.

Shapley, 20, refused to testify against Barlow when his trial started on Aug. 29, and Mohave County Judge Steven Conn held her in contempt of court and ordered her confined to a battered women’s shelter for a month. She was released after about two weeks at the prosecutor’s request.

Before the trial, Shapley wrote a letter to Conn explaining her reluctance to testify. The letter was obtained by the Kingman Daily Miner newspaper last week.

In the letter, Shapley said she felt mistreated by Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith and investigators. She cited her grand jury testimony in June, when she was flown from Salt Lake City to Kingman while her baby was ill and awaiting brain surgery.

She wrote that she told the grand jury “whatever they wanted me to say” in order to go back to her baby.

She complained that after being promised her testimony would be secret, it immediately was disclosed to the media.

Shapley said her contact with county Special Investigator Gary Engels was unpleasant and said Engels told her directly that she would be used to bring down Warren Jeffs.

“He said that he did not care how I felt or anyone else, that he was going to bring Warren Jeffs down. So this was really about Warren Jeffs. They don’t care about me or me being a supposed victim,” Shapley wrote.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday September 25, 2006.
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