The FLDS compound in Texas
Extensive evidence was found at the FLDS compound (pictured), including written records Jeffs kept of the crimes. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

After being convicted recently of sexual assault, Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes. Jeffs, the leader of a fundamentalist Mormon church that practices polygamy, will not be eligible for parole until he is 90.

Jury deliberates for 30 minutes before sentencing Jeffs to life

Warren Jeffs, the leader of the controversial Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has been sentenced to life in prison, according to CNN. He was convicted on charges of aggravated sexual assault for having sex with and impregnating a 15-year-old girl and sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl. Jeffs received life imprisonment for the first charge and 20 years for the second. According to the Telegraph, Jeffs stormed out of the courtroom on Friday after the jury found him guilty. He was absent from the courtroom for the rest of the sentencing proceedings. Deliberations lasted less than 30 minutes before the jury handed down the maximum possible sentence for each charge. Jeffs, according to MSNBC, says the court is infringing on his religious rights.

Jeffs knew consequences

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Jeffs kept written records of activities varying from financial transactions to personal diaries. Investigators found numerous instances of what Jeffs called “heavenly sessions” in his written records. That was Jeffs’ term for having sex with his brides. According to the Daily Mail, Jeffs had 78 wives; 24 were under 17 years of age and 12 were under 16, according to the Los Angeles Times. He wrote in 2005, according to MSNBC, that authorities would “hang me from the highest tree,” were he discovered. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, former FLDS member Rebecca Musser testified that she asked why he was always writing things down. He replied he was going to “be held accountable” for his actions. Musser also testified, according to Deseret News, that Jeffs believed records kept on Earth would be similarly kept in heaven. Texas Rangers, when they entered the Yearning for Zion Ranch, found a vault of meticulous written records, audio recordings and photographs that aided prosecutors in putting Jeffs away.

Ritual abuse and iron fist leadership

Accounts of life at Yearning For Zion Ranch are harrowing. According to the Daily Mail, sexual abuse of underage girls was a church ritual. Jeffs would tell teenage girls that they would be rejected by God if they did not comply. Jeffs also reportedly ruled the FLDS community with an iron fist. He expelled 60 members, according to MSNBC, when he saw them as a threat, breaking up 300 families and “reassigning” wives wherever he saw fit. Twenty-nine of his own wives, according to the Daily Mail, were previously married to his father Rulon Jeffs, who ran the church previously. According to MSNBC, Jeffs could be eligible for parole in 35 years, when Jeffs will be 90.

Former member of FLDS speaking about Jeffs’ trial



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