Daughter of Warren Jeffs to testify; attorney receives death threats

Daughter of sect leader will face grand jury questions

A 16-year-old daughter of the jailed leader of a polygamist sect has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury today as state prosecutors pursue criminal charges against sect members.

The girl’s father is Warren Jeffs, who is jailed awaiting trial on Arizona charges related to marriages involving young girls. She says she has never been married, doesn’t have a baby and has not been abused. She denies that church elders are influencing her and wants to fire her court-appointed lawyer.

A court filing shows that the girl has been subpoenaed to appear today, when the grand jury convenes in Schleicher County, home of the Yearning For Zion ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

– Source: Michelle Roberts, Daughter of sect leader will face grand jury questions, AP, via the Star-Telegram, June 25, 2008

Lawyer for FLDS teen alleges threat

A Texas lawyer representing the teenage daughter of jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs claims she has received death threats.

Natalie Malonis told the Deseret Morning News the threats began last week when she asked a court to keep a leader in the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints away from her client.

She was to have an armed guard for a hearing Tuesday on whether her client must testify before a grand jury.

“I’ve been getting death threats and I am being provided a security detail,” she said. “That was not even at my request. Law enforcement recognized the need for it.”

– Source: Lawyer for FLDS teen alleges threat, UPI, June 24, 2008

Sect prosecutions will be tricky

The criminal case follows state child welfare officials’ ill-fated April seizure of more than 400 children at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado.

The state accused the sect of widespread sexual abuse of teen girls, but the Texas Supreme Court forced the state to return the children from foster care in June. The high court said the state overreached in taking all the children from the ranch when only a handful of girls may have been abused.

It’s not clear what, or whether, criminal indictments of FLDS members may result. But the girl scheduled to testify on Wednesday illustrates that to win indictments, prosecutors may have to overcome the denials of the teens they allege were abused.

The girl initially fought attempts by Malonis to finalise an emergency restraining order issued on Friday to force her mother to keep church elder Willie Jessop away from the girl.

Malonis said Jessop was influencing the teen and encouraging her to be unco-operative. The girl denies that and accused her lawyer in a letter to the judge of falsely claiming the girl was spiritually married at 15 and had a child.

The girl wants a new lawyer but agreed on Tuesday to allow the restraining order to stay in place another 90 days.

Any criminal prosecution on sex charges is likely to be difficult. The state does have DNA material collected from most YFZ ranch residents to help them sort out family groups after the April 3 raid, and FLDS officials fear the evidence could be used against them in a criminal case.

– Source: Sect prosecutions will be tricky, AP, via News24. com, June 25, 2008

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday June 25, 2008.
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