ST. GEORGE, Utah – Jurors heard closing arguments Friday in the trial of a polygamous-sect leader who is accused of sex charges for his role in the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to an older cousin.
The summaries followed five days of testimony in which the young woman, now 21, and her former husband gave conflicting accounts of Warren Jeffs' influence over them, especially in sexual matters.
Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is charged with rape as an accomplice. Prosecutors claim he used his authority to demand she enter the ceremonial union in 2001 and have sex with Allen Steed, 19.
The young woman spent nearly three days on the witnesses stand, sobbing as she recalled how she pleaded to avoid the marriage and begged Steed to end his sexual advances.
She said she relented a few weeks into their relationship after he said "it was time to be a wife and do your duty."
"I felt dirty and used," she said.
She said she had no option because FLDS culture dictates that women obey their husbands, who hold religious authority in the home.
But Steed, now 26, described a different 3 1/2-year marriage, telling jurors he never forced his wife to have sex and that she actually initiated their first sexual encounter. He said Jeffs recommended patience and prayer for the couple, not submission and blind obedience.
Steed, too, cried, describing the heartbreak of trying to make the marriage work with a teenager who treated him sweetly in private but rejected his affections at other times.
"I wanted it to go on forever," Steed said of the marriage. "For time and all eternity."
Jeffs, 51, was the No. 2 FLDS leader in 2001, subsequently ascending to president, or prophet, after the death of his father, Rulon Jeffs.
The woman testified that another high-ranking leader, Fred Jessop, had a key role in arranging the marriage. He is deceased.
The marriage ended in 2004, after the woman became pregnant with another man's child. She left the church and is remarried. The Associated Press does not typically name those who allege sexual abuse.
The FLDS church, which broke away from the mainstream Mormon church, practices polygamy and arranged marriage in twin communities on the Utah-Arizona border.