As prosecution begins its case today, judge will look at evidence from life in the sect
ST. GEORGE – Word by word, every lesson, sermon and pronouncement polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs ever made is likely to be dissected and offered as evidence – both against him and in his favor – as his prosecution begins today.
In one typical lesson, recorded and distributed to faithful followers, Jeffs can be heard counseling young women to be submissive and obedient, to “keep sweet” and to avoid squabbling with sister-wives.
He also tells them that fathers and husbands are to “persuade through love” and act with kindness, not force.
Jeffs, 50, is to appear for a preliminary hearing in 5th District Court as the state of Utah makes its case that he should stand trial on two first-degree felony counts of being an accomplice to rape.
The charges stem from Jeffs’ role in conducting a 2001 spiritual ceremony between a 19-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl who alleges she was coerced into the union and, later, sexual relations.
The judge then will rule on whether the evidence is sufficient to bind Jeffs over for trial.
Identified only as Jane Doe IV, the woman alleges Jeffs told her to submit “mind, body and soul” to her husband and that her salvation depended on sticking with the marriage.
He also counseled the couple to “multiply and replenish the earth.”
Washington County Prosecutor Brock Belnap highlighted those statements in filing charges against Jeffs.
But Wally Bugden, one of Jeffs’ attorneys, said his client merely counseled the couple, both entering their first marriage, to love one another and build a family.
Each side is likely to cull comments made by Jeffs in recorded lessons and sermons he gave as a private school principal and then president and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Of particular interest will be the FLDS version of premarital advice Jeffs gave in home economics classes for junior-high age girls and in priesthood history classes for boys.
The teachings draw on the Bible and standard works of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which publicly disavowed plural marriage in 1890.
Jeffs quotes fundamentalist Mormon leaders as well as 19th-century LDS Church leaders such as Brigham Young.
In a collection of lessons reviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune, Jeffs, considered by his followers to be their prophet, traces the history of plural marriage, discusses how marriages are arranged through revelations received by the prophet and how girls are to “keep the bars up” for all males except “the one man you are given to.”
In a March 13, 1998, lesson Jeffs gave to a home economics class at Alta Academy, girls learn that wives should never seek to rule over their husbands.
“So I remind you of what the prophet said,” Jeffs says. ” ‘It takes a man and a woman to make a man. It takes a man and many women to make a man.’ And the only real way to be a woman and fulfill your calling as a woman is to be in oneness with the priesthood bearer you will become part of.”
He refers to advice from LDS Church President Brigham Young and “the great Jehovah” about the need for a woman to desire only her husband and to let him rule over her.
Jeffs also makes this observation: “I remind you that Priesthood government is persuasion through love. It is not force. The father, the husband, his duty is to persuade through love. Chastening is part of love, and even that is done in kindness.”