Testimony Continues in Warren S. Jeffs’ Preliminary Hearing in St. George
Doe is the key witness in Jeffs’ preliminary hearing on two first- degree felony counts of being an accomplice to rape. He allegedly officiated in 2001 at an arranged marriage between Doe, then 14, and her 19-year-old first cousin.
Fifth District Judge James L. Shumate will decide if there is sufficient evidence to order Jeffs to stand trial.
Doe, now 20, told attorney Tara Isaacson that she never explicitly talked about the forced sex with Jeffs in person or on the phone, adding that it wasn’t something you were supposed to talk about.
Doe also acknowledged that she ended her marriage to her cousin when she had an affair with another man. Doe, whose real name isn’t being used to protect her, has remarried since then.
Isaacson also asked Doe if her marriage to her first husband was all misery, and showing a smiling Doe in a photo taken when she and her husband were camping. Doe replied that she was faking it.
And Isaacson noted an entry in the young Doe’s journal in which the girl, well before her marriage, pleaded with God for a husband.
Earlier today, Doe told prosecutors that her marriage at 14 was “the darkest time of my entire life.” But she said she didn’t dare defy the order to marry the man, whom she described as a name-calling bully.
She said she was told the order had come from Rulon Jeffs, the aging president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and relayed through his son. In the FLDS, followers are taught that the president, believed by the faithful to be their prophet, is always to be obeyed.
As Warren Jeffs stared steadily at her, Doe said she got word that she was to be married at a family gathering. She said she was in 9th grade at the time, and the news – delivered by her stepfather, Fred Jessop – came as a shock.
She would learn the name of her husband-to-be before the wedding, which was a week away, Doe said.
Doe testified that she went to Jessop later and pleaded to be let out of the wedding. “I don’t think this is for me, I’ve prayed about it. I need to grow up,” she recalled saying.
So Jessop told her to talk to Warren and Rulon Jeffs, she said. After they consulted with Jessop, word came back that she must go ahead with the marriage, she said.
And although she was devastated, Doe said, “At the time, I truly believed God was speaking through the prophet, through Warren.” Then, she said, she found out who her husband would be. Doe said she confronted her mother and Jessop, who replied, “You would defy what the prophet has revealed for you?” The wedding took place in a motel in Caliente, Nev., with Warren Jeffs officiating, Doe said, adding that she wept for hours before and was all but speechless during the ceremony.
Weeping again on the stand, Doe said, “This was the darkest time of my entire life, one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through.” It would be weeks before the marriage was consummated, Doe said, and only when her husband forced her.
Doe said she went back to Warren Jeffs and asked to be released from the marriage. In response, she said, Jeffs gave her a book, In Truth and Light, which included passages from FLDS teachings about the marriage covenant. In the faith, plural marriage is essential to salvation.
Testimony is to continue through the day.
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