Warren Jeffs, the racist leader of a breakaway Mormon sect, was sentenced to life in prison today for raping a 12-year-girl, taken as a bride in a “spiritual marriage.” Jeffs, the president and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) was also sentenced to 20 years for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old member of his cult.
Jeffs is already imprisoned for an earlier conviction.
The charges stemmed from a 2007 raid on the FLDS “Yearning for Zion” compound outside Eldorado, Texas. About 460 children were initially taken into custody during the FBI raid, triggered by an anonymous phone tip that turned out to be a hoax. Jeffs vigorously denied the charges, but prosecutors played tapes of him sexually assaulting the 12-year-old and produced DNA evidence proving Jeffs had a child with the 15-year-old. Jurors also saw a 2005 document, among thousands of pages of notes seized in the raid, in which Jeffs wrote, “If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree.”
As the SPLC has reported, Jeffs preached a virulent racism to his 10,000 followers as well as hatred toward LGBT people. “The black race,” he said, “ is the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth.”
The judge said Jeffs, 55, who represented himself, will be eligible for parole in 35 years.