ST. GEORGE, Utah – A young woman who said she was forced to enter an arranged marriage at age 14 testified Monday that she never complained to her mother or sisters that she was being raped.
"I never told anyone," the woman, now 21, said during cross-examination at the trial of polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs.
Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice. Prosecutors say he used his influence to push the girl into a ceremonial marriage with a 19-year-old cousin in 2001 and force her to have sex.
Last week the woman testified that she sobbed through the wedding and had to be coaxed by Jeffs and her mother when asked to say "I do." She hid in a bathroom after the ceremony at a Nevada motel.
Defense attorney Tara Isaacson challenged her earlier testimony and her statements to police in 2006.
The woman said Jeffs never specifically spoke to her about having sex because the FLDS faithful didn't use that word. She acknowledged her mother had a "great deal of influence" on her to go ahead with the marriage ceremony.
The woman has been the only witness through nearly three days of trial. She recalled last week how she avoided sex for weeks but could no longer deny her husband when he said it was "time for you to be a wife and do your duty."
Wanting to die, she said she subsequently swallowed two bottles of over-the-counter pain reliever.
"He was my priesthood head and husband. He was my patriarch," she said of her cousin. "And I was risking my spiritual salvation by questioning my husband and not becoming one with him."
The woman said she sought an FLDS divorce, known as a release, from Jeffs but was denied.
She finally left her three-year marriage and the FLDS church in 2004 after becoming pregnant with another man's child. The Associated Press generally does not name people alleging sexual abuse.
Jeffs, 51, has been president of the FLDS church since 2002. Followers see him as a prophet who communicates with God and holds dominion over their salvation. Ex-church members say he reigns with an iron fist, demanding perfect obedience from followers.
If convicted of the charges, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Polygamy, a practice central to FLDS religious beliefs, is not an issue in the case because the three-year marriage between the cousins was monogamous. The faith believes plural marriage brings exaltation in heaven.
The sect split from the Mormon church, which disavowed polygamy in 1890 and excommunicates members found to be practicing plural marriage.