The conviction of a polygamist serving 17 years in prison for sexual assault of a child was upheld in a Texas court Thursday.
Abram Harker Jeffs, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who had lived at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, appealed the 2010 conviction, but the decision was upheld in the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Austin on Thursday. […]
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He said that the state had insufficient evidence to prove that a sexual relationship had occurred between him and his wife, whom he married when she was 14 years old. The girl gave birth to a son when she was 16, and DNA tests prove that Jeffs is the biological father.
However, Jeffs said in the court documents that this alone does not prove sexual relations, and that artificial insemination could have been used.
The district judge ruled that the circumstantial evidence — that the couple were united in a marriage ceremony, lived as a married couple and gave birth to a son — was enough to establish that a sexual relationship occurred.
Abram Harker Jeffs was one of 12 men indicted for crimes including child sexual assault, bigamy and performing an illegal marriage after an April 2008 law enforcement raid on the sect’s Ranch to check on accusations of sexual assault.
At his trial, Texas prosecutors said that Jeffs assaulted a girl with whom he was in an FLDS “spiritual” or “celestial” marriage on May 12, 2006, when Jeffs was 34 and already legally married and when the girl was 15.