State rests, judge rejects polygamous leader’s bid for dismissal

ST. GEORGE – Prosecutors have rested in the rape as an accomplice trial of polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs, and the judge has rejected the defense’s request to dismiss the case.

As their final evidence on Tuesday morning, prosecutors played a recording of a church talk given by a sect member in April 2002.

Sam Barlow, who at one time served as a town marshal in the sect’s home base of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., warned of a coming conflict with state officials over the practice of polygamy.

After the state rested, defense attorney Walter F. Bugden asked 5th District Judge James L. Shumate to dismiss the two charges against Jeffs.

Bugden argued the state had not shown Jeffs knowingly and intentionally was an accomplice to rape. Prosecutors had failed to show that Jeffs knew marrying 14-year-old Jane Doe to her 19-year-old cousin would be followed by unconsented sex, he argued.

Doe was vague in her complaints after the 2001 marriage, saying she was unhappy and her husband was touching her in ways that made her uncomfortable, Bugden said.

“She’s not saying rape, she’s not saying rape to anyone,” he argued.

But Ryan Shaum of the Washington County Attorney’s office said Jeffs was not concerned about Doe’s consent to sex, and was only concerned that she submit to her husband.

“Her words to him fell on deaf ears,” Shaum said. “She was kicking and screaming all the way.”

After the judge ruled there is sufficient evidence for jurors to consider the case, court resumed with the defense scheduled to call its first witness.

A transcript of Barlow’s talk is available at, titled “The FLDS Battle for Plural Marriage,” part one and two. Barlow tells the audience it will be imperative that wives in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints resist state pressure to disclose information about their marital relationships. He also warns of the “economic hemorrhage” the looming legal battle will cause the community.

In testimony Monday, older sisters of Jane Doe described the duress she was under to go ahead with the marriage.

Rebecca Musser said that Doe’s stepfather, Fred Jessop, had “put the marriage together” and no one could do anything to stop it without suffering social and spiritual consequences. Jessop, now deceased, was the second counselor in the FLDS church.

Jeffs became the sect’s leader in 2002, after his father’s death.

Defense Attorney Tara Isaacson drew out discrepancies in Doe’s testimony, focusing on the fact she never told any one she was being raped and had previously blamed her mother for the unwanted 2001 marriage.

Jeffs faces two counts of being an accomplish to rape based on the marriage. The crime is punishable by up to life in prison.

Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday September 18, 2007.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject


Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at