Tuesday 16 January 2018

Polygamist trained girls for sex, court told

Paul J Weber in Texas

Convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was heard yesterday giving his child brides instructions on how to please him sexually during a graphic 10-minute tape played for a Texas jury.

An FBI agent testified that the 2004 audiotape, in which Jeffs is heard breathing heavily, preceded Jeffs having sex at the same time with all the girls, who were 15 and younger. Several jurors squirmed or wiped away tears during the sometimes-scratchy recording.

Jeffs faces life in prison after being convicted by the same jury last week of sexually assaulting two of his "brides", who were 12 and 15.

The sentencing phase of his trial is expected to finish early this week.

Prosecutors showed a page from one of Jeffs' journals.

"If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree," Jeffs wrote in 2005, according to one of thousands of pages of notes seized from his Texas ranch.

The 55-year-old is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. More than 10,000 followers consider him God's spokesman on earth.

Jeffs boycotted his sentencing phase for a third straight day.

On the tapes, Jeffs is heard telling the girls that what "the five of you are about to do is important". The recording ends with him asking the girls if his instructions are detailed enough. The voices of at least two girls responded, "Yes."

The recordings and journals were seized during a 2008 raid on an FLDS ranch in rural West Texas. That raid led to the charges against Jeffs and several of his followers.

Jeffs spent years evading arrest before his capture in 2006, prosecutors said.

Jeffs' lawyer has indicated that his plea for leniency will focus on Jeffs being a product of his environment and a culture that hasn't changed for centuries.

Irish Independent

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