Accused FLDS Teen Rapist Gets Slap on Wrist

Plea Deal Lets Warren Jeffs Follower Allen Steed Escape With 30 Days in Jail and Probation

ABC News/February 20, 2011

A follower of Warren Jeffs who admitted during the trial of the polygamist sect leader that he had sex with his child bride cousin will get off with just 30 days in jail as a result of a plea deal.

Allen Steed, who was originally charged with first degree felony rape, pleaded guilty to a charge of solemnizing a prohibited marriage, and a St. George, Utah, judge Friday sentenced him to 30 days, followed by 36 months of probation.

Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham ordered Steed to report Monday to Washington County's Purgatory Correctional Facility.

If he does not violate the probation, another charge of unlawful sex with a minor will be dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor, sparing him from having to register as a sex offender, the judge said.

Steed, who was 19 in 2001 when Jeffs married him to his 14-year-old cousin, Elissa Wall, could have faced five years in prison for each of the two charges. Had he been convicted of the original rape charge, he could have been sent to prison for life.

Jeffs, who was the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was convicted in September 2007 of being an accessory to rape for marrying the couple and then coercing Wall to fulfill her religious duties by having sex with her husband.

That verdict was overturned on appeal, but while Utah prosecutors decide whether to retry Jeffs, the former FLDS leader is jailed in Texas, where he faces trial in July on charges of sexual abuse of a child and bigamy.

It was Wall's story that sparked the case against Jeffs. At his trial, she testified that Jeffs used his power as a religious leader to force her into a marriage in which he knew sex would be expected.

She begged Jeffs to allow her to be released from the marriage to Steed, but Jeffs refused, and Wall said Steed eventually raped her.

"Allen will never truly understand the magnitude of the scars that I will carry for the rest of my life," she said Friday at the St. George court.

Despite that, Wall, who is now remarried, said she is at peace with the sentence Steed received.

"Mercy and justice have to walk hand in hand," she said. "I feel like we have accomplished that today.

"I do believe in many ways that Allen is a victim of Warren and his power and his control," just as she was a victim, she said.

At Jeffs' trial, and in the book she has since written, "Stolen Innocence," Wall said that when she turned to Jeffs for help, he used his role as self-proclaimed prophet of the FLDS to coerce her to remain in the marriage and give herself sexually to her husband.

Steed, apparently unwittingly, helped the prosecution of Jeffs when he testified at the trial of his religious leader and did not invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He admitted having sexual relations with his 14-year-old cousin, but denied that Jeffs forced him or coerced Wall.

His attorney, Jim Bradshaw, said Steed did not regret his testimony and was satisfied with the plea deal.

"It's a fair resolution of a tough case from a lot of different perspectives," Bradshaw told reporters.

"I think it's a good resolution for Allen and for everyone involved," Bradshaw told The Associated Press. "He's really relieved to put it behind him and move on with his life."

When asked whether she wants to see Utah authorities continue their prosecution of Jeffs, Wall told ABC affiliate KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City, "I am in support of what the state decides to do. I am sure he will get what he deserves."

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