FLDS TRIAL: Jurors hear from former FLDS member

San Angelo Standard-Times/November 4, 2010

San Angelo, Texas - Jurors got a closer look at life in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when they heard from a former church member in the eighth day of the trial of Keith Dutson Jr.

Dutson, an FLDS member, has been convicted of sexual assault of a child. His trial is now in the sentencing phase, and the jury can give Dutson two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine with the possibility of probation.

The trial is in recess until 9 a.m. Monday.

On Thursday, the jury heard from former FLDS member Rebecca Musser.

"They stopped all of the dancing," Musser said about life before and after FLDS leader Warren Jeffs took over.

Musser has been labeled an apostate in an FLDS document, which refers to a person who has left a religion and is hostile to it.

She affirmed what lead prosecutor Eric Nichols read from a book that was projected on a screen for the jury.

The book was titled "Purity in The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage."

The passages described the relationship of women as subservient to men and stressed the importance of marriage and having children.

"Is this related to the concept that a girl placed with a man is to give comfort to that man?" Nichols asked Musser, having defined "comfort" as sexual relations.

"Yes," Musser said.

Musser, under questioning from one of Dutson's attorneys, Stephanie Goodman, said she didn't know if the girl married to Dutson had received training from the book.

More of Musser's testimony, under the questioning of the defense and the prosecution, related how she had lived as a spiritual wife - what the FLDS calls its plural marriages - with then-prophet and leader Rulon Jeffs, an 86-year-old man.

She said she taught tap dancing and arranged musical productions - until Jeffs' son, Warren Jeffs, took over FLDS leadership and put an end to those activities.

She also said Warren Jeffs tried to marry her and other spiritual widows of Rulon Jeffs, but she was vocally against it and ran away to her brother.

The defense injected a personal question that resulted in protests from the state.

"Was it your inappropriate relationship with law enforcement that caused your divorce?" Goodman said.

The state accused the defense of smear tactics, and Goodman said what she meant by "inappropriate relationship with law enforcement" referred to hugs given to law enforcement and attending a barbecue and drinking alcoholic beverages.

Fifty-first District Judge Barbara Walther, who is presiding over the case, told jurors to disregard the question.

The state used Musser's testimony to try to show that Dutson had a place of prominence in the community, having gotten four special ordinances by the age of 18, and having been given the victim as a wife, a girl who was the niece of Warren Jeffs.

The state also argued that Dutson being raised in a polygamous home makes him a risk and someone in need of harsher punishment.

"How would my parents' actions have anything to do with my state of mind?" Goodman said.

The state also put on evidence to show that Dutson was present with Warren Jeffs when Warren Jeffs was wanted by law enforcement. They had an officer describe Dutson as passive-aggressive when getting his picture taken during an April 2008 raid on the FLDS-owned Yearning for Zion Ranch.

The ranch raid, which has produced the FLDS documents used during the trial, happened as a result of what has now been determined to be a hoax phone call from a woman claiming abuse at the ranch.

Jurors began the day with more testimony from Larry Beall, a clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma.

"They have the characteristics of a cult," Larry Beall said of the FLDS.

Brandon Hudson, one of Dutson's attorneys, had Beall point out similarities between the FLDS and Beall's faith. Beall is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, from which the FLDS separated primarily because the FLDS sanctions polygamous marriage and the LDS does not.

Hudson broached the similarity of priesthood being reserved for men in both churches; Beall said priesthood means service in the LDS church and is more about power in the FLDS church.

Hudson also emphasized the compassion and love Dutson had for the girl he married when she was 15 and he was 20.

"She is an angel to me," one of the letters from Dutson to his FLDS leader stated.

Hudson criticized Beall on using apostate FLDS members for his psychological studies.

Hudson also revealed that the man who brought FLDS people for Beall to examine was a brother to a longtime board member of the clinic for which Beall worked. Beall said he had not been aware of the connection between the two men.

Beall testified that the Diversity Foundation, a group that the defense has characterized as anti-FLDS, gave money to Beall's clinic to pay for patients.

The defense also questioned whether Beall had used hypnosis in his examinations of people, as the author of a book claimed he did. Beall said he did not hypnotize anyone he used to form his opinions.

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