Arizona slaps Warren Jeffs with new felony charges

Polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs faces new felony charges in Arizona related to underage marriages he allegedly conducted in 2002 and 2003.

Indictments issued by two separate Mohave County grand juries allege Jeffs officiated at ceremonies of two minor girls. The teens were married to men to whom they were closely enough related to constitute incest, according to the indictments.

Jeffs is charged with four identical counts in each case: two counts of sexual conduct with a minor as an accomplice and two counts of incest as an accomplice.

The first indictment states the alleged crime occurred in the “vicinity of a trailer in Colorado City” between May 1, 2002 and June 30, 2002. The second states the alleged crime occurred on or about Aug. 31, 2003, in the “vicinity of 40 W. Johnson Ave. in Colorado City.

Neither young woman appeared before the grand juries, who instead heard testimony from Mohave County Special Investigator Gary Engles.

One Mohave County grand jury issued its indictment on May 10, while the other issued its charges on June 21. Jeffs, currently incarcerated in the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, Utah, was served with arrest warrants for the new charges on Wednesday.

Neither indictment had been previously announced.

Jeffs is awaiting trial in Utah on two felony charges of being an accomplice to rape for a marriage he allegedly conducted in 2001 between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. That trial is set to begin Sept. 10 in St. George.

Arizona plans to begin its legal proceedings against Jeffs once the September trial finishes. Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith declined to make any other statements about the new cases.

Roger Hoole, a Utah lawyer, filed a civil lawsuit against Jeffs on behalf of the alleged victim in the upcoming Utah criminal trial. He also represents the two young women whose marriages led to the new Arizona charges. Both women are in protective custody, he said.

“The victims are cooperating,” Hoole said, but declined to offer any details about the cases.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday July 13, 2007.
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