Ex-polygamous sect spokesman convicted of contempt

The Associated Press/November 24, 2011

St. George, Utah -- A southern Utah judge has found the former spokesman for the polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs guilty of a contempt of court charge for failing to show up for a pair of hearings.

Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham issued the ruling against William "Willie" R. Jessop on Wednesday, The Spectrum of St. George reported.

Beacham had previously issued a $15,000 warrant for Jessop's arrest. Jessop had paid the fine prior to Wednesday's hearing, however, and remains free.

In court, Jessop told Beacham he had been in Europe for speaking engagements and was not aware of a September court date. Jessop also missed a hearing in June. The contempt charge was specifically related to the June hearing.

Beacham set no date for sentencing, nor indicate what punishment might be imposed.

The missed hearings were to settle financial issues related to a 2008 legal dispute between Jessop and Cedar City private investigator Sam Brower, who has worked on several cases tied to the prosecution of Jeffs, who is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Jessop sought a restraining order against Brower, claiming the investigator had trespassed on his property, once with a television news crew, and had frightened Jessop's children and harassed employees of his excavating business.

Brower denied all of the allegations and in 2008 told The Associated Press Jessop was angry about Brower's role in a San Angelo, Texas, child welfare case that involved one of Jeffs' daughters.

The court eventually ruled Jessop did not have sufficient evidence to support a restraining order.

Brower sued for payment of legal expenses and won.

On Wednesday, attorney Adam Caldwell said Jessop is willing to pay the nearly $11,800 owed to Brower.

Jessop, 43, is an FLDS member but is no longer loyal to Jeffs.

In August, a Texas jury found the 55-year-old Jeffs guilty of sexually assaulting two girls whom he took as wives when they were 12 and 15 years old. He's serving a life sentence.

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