Ex-husband charged with rape after verdict in Jeffs trial

Associated Press/September 26, 2007

Salt Lake City – Prosecutors filed a rape charge Wednesday against the ex-husband whose arranged marriage led to the conviction of polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs.

The charge came a day after Jeffs was found guilty of rape by accomplice for his role in the 2001 religious union of a 14-year-old girl and her first cousin, Allen Glade Steed, who was 19 at the time.

Steed, now 26, is accused of having sex with the girl against her will after the marriage.

Despite warnings that his testimony could be used against him, Steed was a trial witness for Jeffs, standing so jurors could hear his soft voice and crying when he recalled periods of his 3 1/2-year relationship with the girl.

He said he believed marrying the teen in a Nevada motel was right under "God's law."

The rape charge was based on a complaint filed by a sheriff's investigator, Jake Schultz, who said the trial established that the pair had sex and the young woman convinced jurors it was not consensual.

Schultz said Steed lives away from Utah most of the time. Prosecutors were negotiating his arrest Wednesday with his attorney, Jim Bradshaw, who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

A Washington County prosecutor, Brian G. Filter, drew up the rape charge two days after Steed testified at the Jeffs trial on Sept. 19.

Filter said he waited to file it to avoid influencing the jury that found Jeffs guilty of two counts of rape by accomplice Tuesday. Prosecutors claim Jeffs used his iron-fisted influence to force the girl to marry and submit to Steed.

Jeffs, 51, is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy and arranged marriage. He faces five years to life in prison on each count.

Under Utah law, a 14-year-old can consent to sex in some circumstances. But sex is not considered consensual if a person under 18 is enticed by someone at least three years older.

The woman, now 21, said through her lawyer on Wednesday that Steed was "both of a victim of Warren Jeffs and a perpetrator of child abuse. We have seen the justice system bring out the truth, and I am confident it will again."

Steed's arrest warrant was signed by 5th District Judge Eric Ludlow along with an order setting bail at $50,000.

He acknowledged at Jeffs' trial that his testimony could be used against him.

"I believe that every story needs two sides for the truth to come out," Steed said.

He told prosecutors that he didn't recall his young wife sobbing at their wedding or needing to be coaxed to say "I do" or kiss him. He said there was never a time in their relationship that he forced sex on her and he wanted the marriage "to last forever."

Steed testified that the girl initiated their first sexual encounter, waking him after he fell asleep in his clothes.

Jeffs told him to "pray together. Work together. Play together. Be kind," Steed said when asked about the FLDS leader's influence.

The young woman left the marriage and the FLDS church in 2004 after becoming pregnant with another man's child. The Associated Press generally does not name people alleging sexual abuse.

"It hurt really bad," Steed said of the affair, dabbing his eyes with a tissue and adding that he wanted to grab a gun.

"I knew that was wrong so I just left it at that," he said.

After the verdict Tuesday, jurors said the former teen bride was more credible than Steed.

The mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, renounced polygamy more than a century ago, excommunicates members who engage in the practice, and disavows any connection to the FLDS church.

Since at least the 1920s, members of the FLDS have lived in the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, where the women wear long prairie dresses and have long braided hair, and the men dress modestly, often in buttoned-up shirts.

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