Polygamist sect leader swaps jail for hospital

Serious illness forces Jeffs to be taken to Las Vegas while awaiting trial

Asscociated Press/July 9, 2008

Las Vegas - Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was taken from jail in Arizona to a Las Vegas hospital for what the sheriff described as a serious medical problem.

Jeffs, 52, was brought to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center on Tuesday, authorities said.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan didn't specify Jeffs' medical problem, but said it was serious enough to move him about 100 miles from Kingman Medical Center to the Las Vegas hospital.

Jeffs is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - an insular faith of nearly 6,000 people. The faith practices polygamy in arranged marriages that have sometimes involved underage girls.

Felony rape conviction One of their ranches was raided in west Texas in April, setting off a lengthy legal battle over the custody of hundreds of children.

Jeffs was convicted by a Utah jury last year on two counts of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison for his role in the 2001 marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin.

Jeffs is charged in Arizona as an accomplice with four counts of sexual conduct with a minor stemming from the marriages of two girls. He had also been charged with four counts of incest as an accomplice, but those charges were dropped last month.

The sect leader has had several health complications during his jail stay, including a trip to a prison infirmary because of a self-imposed fast. Jeffs also attempted suicide last year and was seen throwing himself against the walls and banging his head, authorities said.

Jeffs' Las Vegas lawyer, Richard Wright, did not immediately respond Wednesday to messages from The Associated Press.

Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center spokesman Dan Davidson said he had no patient listed under Jeffs' name, and said he could provide no further information.

In dropping the accomplice to incest charges last month, Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn found that state incest law does not apply to the arranged marriages of two teenage girls and their older male relatives.

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