Texas AG seeks to bolster polygamist’s punishment if convicted

Texas AG: Polygamist sect man skirted bank laws

SAN ANTONIO — A polygamist sect member set to go on trial for bigamy and sexual abuse of a child next month deliberately skirted anti-money laundering laws and used a wife he once abandoned to help front a company in Arizona, prosecutors allege in a court filing.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office isn’t seeking additional charges against Raymond Jessop, 38, but wants to use the allegations to bolster Jessop’s punishment if he is convicted.

Jessop will be the first of a dozen men from a polygamist sect to face criminal trial following a raid of their West Texas ranch in April 2008. His trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 26.

A grand jury indicted Jessop last year on the sexual abuse and bigamy charges. Since grand jury proceedings are secret, it’s unclear whether the new allegations were presented to grand jurors or if they could result in later charges.

Jessop’s attorney, Mark Stevens, declined Tuesday to comment on the individual allegations but said all are untrue. He said he would contest their admissibility in court.

Jessop, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was indicted last year on charges of sexual assault of a child, stemming from his marriage to a 16-year-old. Prosecutors say he and others refused to take the pregnant teen to a hospital even though she had difficulty delivering the child, putting both her and the infant in danger.

The bigamy charge stems from his alleged marriage to a different girl, a daughter of jailed sect leader Warren Jeffs, on the day after her 15th birthday.

– Source / Full Story: Texas AG: Polygamist sect man skirted bank laws , Michelle Roberts, Associated Press via the Houston Chronicle, Sep. 29, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Raymond Jessop, who faces a faces a sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison if convicted, has asked a judge to exclude allegations outside the indictment made by prosecutors, AP says.

Jessop’s attorney, Mark Stevens, said in a court filing in Schleicher County on Wednesday that prosecutors cannot offer sufficient proof of the allegations and should not be allowed to make them or enter evidence that would be “unfairly prejudicial, confusing and misleading” to jurors.

He also objected to prosecutors accusing Jessop of being closely aligned with Warren Jeffs, the jailed FLDS leader who was on the FBI’s most wanted list before being arrested and convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape. Jeffs is jailed in Arizona awaiting trial on similar charges there.

“It is apparent that the state wants to taint Raymond Jessop with Warren Jeffs’s notoriety. The indictment in this case, however, does not allege a conspiracy, and, in fact, says nothing at all about Warren Jeffs. It is fundamentally unfair,” Stevens said in his filing.

– Source / Full Story: Sect member asks judge to exclude some accusations , Associated Press via the Houston Chronicle, Oct. 1, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 1, 2009.
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