Polygamist Sentenced to Probation for Marrying Teen

KINGMAN, Ariz. – A member of a polygamist sect who pleaded no contest to a child abuse charge for taking an underage wife was sentenced to one day in jail and 3 years probation.

Colorado City resident Vergel Jessop will also have to register as a sex offender during his probation. The judge in Mohave County spared him additional jail time Friday because his wife has significant medical problems, county prosecutors said.

Jessop, 47, had been charged in August 2005 with sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. He pleaded no contest to the lesser charge in December.

Jessop’s sentencing was the sixth of eight cases involving members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be concluded. All eight were charged with crimes related to their underaged plural wives.

Dale Barlow is set to be sentenced in June for his no contest plea to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. The last defendant, Rodney Holm, is set for trial in May.

Of the remaining members of the polygamous sect originally charged, one was acquitted, charges were dropped against two men, and two others were convicted at trial or pleaded guilty.

The leader of the FLDS, Warren Jeffs, is being held in Utah on two counts of rape by accomplice and faces life terms in prison if convicted. In Arizona, he faces sexual misconduct charges which carry lesser penalties.

Both states brought the charges in connection with marriages Jeffs allegedly arranged between older men and teenage girls.

The FLDS is based in Colorado City and nearby Hildale, Utah.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday April 22, 2007.
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