Man with polygamist sect guilty in sex case

Arizona Republic/July 8, 2006

Kingman -- A Mohave County jury convicted a Colorado City, Ariz., man Friday of having sex with a 16-year-old girl and conspiracy to commit sex with a minor.

Kelly Fischer, 38, is a member of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Several other men face identical charges, with the next trial postponed until August, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Fischer's sentencing is set for Aug. 4. The crimes are punishable by as much as four months to two years in prison or probation. He could also face up to a year in county jail, the Mohave Daily News reported.

"This shows that the law applies equally to everyone, everywhere," Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith told the Daily News.

Smith said the Fischer case was one of the weakest of the similar cases he will try in court, because the victim did not testify at the trial.

Fischer was not considered a flight risk and was released until that time, the Tribune reported.

In Fischer's three-day jury trial here, Smith relied chiefly on testimony from former members of the sect and birth certificates to make his case.

Birth certificates showed the girl was just over 17 when she gave birth in Utah in 2001. The child's birth certificate lists Fischer, then 33, as the father.

Two former FLDS members testified Thursday about a culture of secret marriages arranged within hours with the approval of the faith's prophet, and about seeing Fischer and the girl together.

Bruce Griffen, Fischer's attorney, characterized testimony from the former members as "guess, assumption and speculation."

He had asked the judge to find the state failed to make its case, because it did not pin down where Fischer and the girl had sex or prove that anyone else was involved in arranging the union. But Judge Steven F. Conn refused and sent the case to the jury.

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