New Charges Filed Against Warren Jeffs

ABC 4, Salt Lake City/April 6, 2006

Warren Jeffs, the leader of a large polygamist sect, is now a state fugitive as well as a federal one. Jeffs, who has been hiding from the law for over a year, had new charges filed against him Thursday. For the first time, Utah has made a criminal complaint against the man whose followers revere him as a a prophet.

He had already been federally charged for child rape several months ago, as well as for, in some cases, personally conducting, marriages of underage girls to older men; some of whom were three times as old as their young "spiritual wives."

Now, the state of Utah has charged him with two counts of being an accomplice in the rape of a child. The charges stem from a case of one particular underage marriage. Details are meager, but authorities say the victim is between the age of 15 to 18.

The charges were announced Thursday afternoon in Washington County. The area had been home to a thriving polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border until Jeffs began moving his believers to other states.

The Hilldale area is now tetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Jeffs went into hiding as soon as he was first charged. One of his brothers was later captured and accused of funneling money to the federal fugitive. In the car where the brother was captured was a large sum of money, and a jar that had a label saying "Pennies For The Prophet."

With the new state charges, the reward money already offered for the capture of Jeffs has mounted. Between state and federal authorities, the amount now totals $60,000. It is believed that Jeffs is currently hiding out in Canada.

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