San Angelo, Texas • Polygamous leader Warren Jeffs not only raped child brides within his sect, he also molested other children, including a former student and his own young nephew, jurors were told Saturday.
During a rare Saturday session in the sentencing phase of Jeffs’ trial, prosecutors also showed how the polygamous sect leader ordered special beds for the sect’s temple in Eldorado, Texas.
A 28-year-old woman who attended Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints school operated at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon with Jeffs as its principal, began crying on the witness stand as soon as she said Jeffs’ name.
The woman said she was 8 when Jeffs summoned her to his office and asked her to sit on his lap. She did not specify what Jeffs did to her but made it clear it was molestation.
"I didn’t know I was supposed to tell him no," the woman told the jury.
The trial has attracted court watchers from across west Texas. A few observers in the gallery cried with her.
The woman said she did not disclose the abuse until she met Texas rangers who traveled to Utah to investigate Jeffs following the 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado.
A jury is considering whether Jeffs, 55, should spend up to life in prison. The jury on Thursday convicted the polygamous sect leader of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and a count of sexual abuse of a child for having sex with 12- and 15-year-old girls he took as celestial wives.
Prosecutors are introducing evidence of so-called other "bad acts" committed by Jeffs since at least 1989.
The jury also heard Saturday from Brent Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ now 28-year-old nephew. The man was in tears as he told Texas District Court jurors about being raped by his uncle when he was 5.
He said Jeffs pulled him aside at a family meeting, took him into a restroom, ordered him to kneel like he was praying, then raped him.
"He told me this was God’s will, this was God’s work," the nephew said.
Warren Jeffs also warned the boy that, "this is between me and you and God and no one else needs to know about it."
The Tribune does not typically identify victims of sexual assault. However, Brent Jeffs has been public about the allegations against his uncle.
In 2003, he sued Warren Jeffs but settled out of court for 3 acres of land in the FLDS’ Utah-Arizona border community.
Jurors also heard testimony from Texas Ranger Brooks Long, who described finding plans for a table that could be transformed into a bed during a 2008 raid in the FLDS temple at the YFZ Ranch.