ST. GEORGE, Utah – A judge ordered the leader of a polygamist sect Thursday to stand trial on charges of rape as an accomplice for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry and have sex with an older cousin in 2001.
If convicted, Warren Jeffs, 51, could face up to life in prison. He is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints .
The woman, now 20, was not in the courtroom to hear Judge James Shumate's decision. She testified last month that she felt "completely trapped and defeated" during a ceremony at a Nevada motel — the "darkest time of my entire life."
The woman, identified as Jane Doe No. 4, left the sect after 3 1/2 years, remarried and had a baby last week.
Jeffs' defense team contends he is being pursued for his religious beliefs.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Wally Bugden told Shumate he would be making a "factual leap" to find probable cause for a trial.
"Saying I don't want to get married is not the same as saying I don't want to have intercourse," Bugden said.