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Warren Jeffs, the former leader of the polygamist sect Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was convicted in 2011 for the sexual assault of underage girls.
Warren Jeffs - Money (2:06)
Warren Jeffs was born in 1955, the 14th son of a high-ranking official of the FLDS. Born premature, his family thought he was destined for greatness.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a religious community that exists on the fringe of the rest of society. The leaders of the church control the community-- as well as the money and property its members.
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As criminal charges started to mount against Jeffs, he dropped out of sight.
In 2005, Arizona authorities indicted Jeffs on conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, and sexual conduct with a minor. He then faced two counts of rape as an accomplice in 2006 in Utah for his role in arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her19-year-old cousin. Law enforcement didn't know exactly where Jeffs was during this time,
but many assumed he was hiding out at various FLDS compounds to avoid prosecution. He was even added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in 2006. When he was captured north of Las Vegas that August, Jeffs had several cell phones, more than $50,000 in cash, and a stash of wigs and sunglasses in his vehicle.
In 2007, Jeffs was tried and convicted in Utah on charges of being an accessory to rape. That conviction was later overturned, but he faced even more charges in Texas that came as a result of a raid on the YFZ Ranch in 2008. The raid yielded a treasure trove of evidence against Jeffs and several other members of the FLDS in connection to their marriages to underage girls. Jeffs went on trial in 2011 for two of his "celestial marriages"—one with a 12-year-old girl and another with a 15-year-old girl who later had his child. Both of these so-called unions violated Texas law.
Some of the most damning evidence came from Jeffs' own records. He had the habit of having his wives write down all of his activities. He kept journals and made audiotapes, as well. A tape of the assault on the 12-year-old girl was played during the trial, and excerpts from his records were read aloud. "If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree," read one journal entry. Serving as his own attorney, Jeffs mounted a weak defense. He rambled on in court, reading at length from the Book of Mormon, and he used most of the half hour allotted for his closing argument to stand before the jury in silence. It was revealed during the proceedings that he had more than 70 illegal marriages, as many as a third of which were with underage girls. In the end, Jeffs wasn't able to sway the jury to his side. He was found guilty on both counts and quickly sentenced to life in prison. Jeffs is currently serving his sentence at Powledge prison near Palestine, Texas. Far from the model prisoner, he has gone on hunger strikes and attempted suicide. Despite these self-destructive activities, Jeffs still controls the FLDS and its members from behind bars.
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