Reluctant child bride was warned she'd lose 'salvation'

CNN/September 5, 2006
By Ann O'Neill

Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs warned a teenage girl forced into a "spiritual marriage" to submit to sex with her husband or face "losing your salvation," Utah authorities said in an affidavit.

The five-page document was filed in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Thursday in support of two charges that Jeffs' practice of arranging marriages between young girls and older men makes him an accomplice to rape.

Jeffs, who is believed by his followers to be a prophet, appeared in a Las Vegas courtroom and agreed to return to Utah to face the charges. Conviction carries a penalty of five years to life in prison.

Authorities in Arizona also have two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, along with an additional charge of conspiracy pending against the charismatic 50-year-old leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The Utah case will be prosecuted first because it carries the harshest sentence. His maximum penalty in Arizona upon conviction would be six years in prison.

The girl, who was between 14 and 18, is identified in the document as Jane Doe. She was assigned a husband after a church leader had a "revelation," but told Jeffs she felt she was too young to marry, the affidavit states. Jeffs responded that it was her spiritual duty.

The marriage ceremony was performed in Las Vegas. Jeffs was captured outside the city on Monday night in a traffic stop, ending two years on the run.

A month after the marriage ceremony, the affidavit states, her husband reminded the girl that Jeffs had instructed them to have children to "replenish the earth," and "now was the time." She had sex against her will, according to the document.

According to the affidavit, she later told Jeffs she "hated having husband-wife relations" and was uncomfortable with her husband touching her, the affidavit states.

Jeffs told her she had to stay in the marriage, according to the affidavit. The document said he advised her that her husband was her "priesthood head and leader."

According to the affidavit, Jeffs gave these instructions: "Go back and repent. You go give yourself mind, body and soul to your husband like you're supposed to. He will take you into the heavenly kingdom. Go back and do what he tells you to do."

Jeffs told the reluctant bride that having a baby would "change everything."

"No matter what happens you cannot fight with the priesthood because if you do you'll lose your salvation," he said, according to the affidavit.

Followers have told authorities that Jeffs has said he "will not be subject to earthly courts," the affidavit states.

Prosecutors argue that Jeffs should be held without bail because he otherwise will continue to perform "spiritual marriages" between young girls and older men.

Jeffs also told his followers in 2002, "Our prophet and celestial law -- the principal of revelation -- are under attack" by local law enforcement authorities.

"There is a combined effort in the state of Utah and the state of Arizona to come against our prophet and his people, trying to stop the work of God," Jeffs said at a church meeting, according to the affidavit.

His followers are willing to hide and support Jeffs, the affidavit says, and he has access to safe houses in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota, and Canada, according to the document.

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