US Polygamist Sentenced to Life for Sexual Abuse of Children

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. jury has sentenced polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs to life in prison for sexually assaulting two children he claimed were his “spiritual” brides.

The jury in the southwestern state of Texas deliberated for less than an hour before delivering its verdict Tuesday. The sentence was the maximum allowed. He received life in prison for a count of aggravated sexual assault, and 20 years for an additional count of sexual assault.

Jeffs was convicted last week on the two counts. Prosecutors used DNA evidence to prove Jeffs fathered a child with a 15-year-old, and they played an audio recording of what they said was Jeffs sexually assaulting a 12-year-old.

The 55-year-old Jeffs is the head of the radical polygamist sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He argued during the trial that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs.

Jeffs' Texas compound was the subject of a police raid in 2008 in which more than 450 children were removed amid allegations that underage girls were being forced to marry older men. The Texas Supreme Court ruled there was no evidence to back up the state's claim of sexual abuse.