Rape Charges Filed Against Ex-Husband of Teen Bride at Center of Warren Jeffs Trial
SALT LAKE CITY – Prosecutors filed a rape charge Wednesday against the ex-husband whose marriage was at the center of polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs' trial.
The charge against Allen Glade Steed came a day after Jeffs was convicted of rape by accomplice.
Steed was 19 and his bride — also his first cousin — was 14 when they were married in 2001. He is accused of having sex with the girl against her will after the arranged marriage.
Steed, now 26, testified at Jeffs' trial that he did not force himself on the girl and said she initiated their first sexual encounter. He said he believed marrying the 14-year-old was right under "God's law."
The rape charge was based on a complaint filed by a sheriff's investigator, Jake Schultz, who said the trial established that the pair had sex and that the woman, now 21, convinced jurors it was without her consent.
Schultz said Steed lives away from Utah most of the time. Prosecutors were negotiating his arrest Wednesday with his attorney, Jim Bradshaw, who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Prosecutors say Jeffs, 51, used his iron-fisted influence to force the girl to marry and submit to her husband. He is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon splinter group along the Utah-Arizona line, where thousands revere him as a prophet.
Jeffs is to be sentenced in November on two rape by accomplice counts, both of which carry a penalty of five years to life in prison.
Steed's arrest warrant was signed by a judge Wednesday, along with an order setting bail at $50,000. The first-degree rape count against him also carries a five-years-to-life sentence.
Brian G. Filter, a Washington County prosecutor, drew up the rape charge two days after Steed's testimony at Jeffs' trial a week ago, but he waited until the trial was over to file it. Filter said he didn't want to influence Jeffs' jury.
Jeffs defense attorney Wally Bugden asked Steed at the trial whether he had to talk the girl into sex. "No sir, never," Steed replied.
He contradicted his former wife's testimony, telling prosecutors that he didn't recall her sobbing at their wedding or needing to be coaxed to say "I do" or kiss him. He said that there was never a time in their 3 1/2-year relationship that he forced sex on her and that he wanted the marriage "to last forever."
The young woman left the 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.
Steed, who remains single, acknowledged at Jeffs' trial that his testimony could be used against him.
"I believe that every story needs two sides for the truth to come out," he testified.
Since at least the 1920s, members of the FLDS have lived in the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.
The mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, renounced polygamy more than a century ago, excommunicates members who engage in the practice, and disavows any connection to the FLDS church.