Warren Jeffs: Prosecution Plays Tapes Of Defendant Instructing 14-Year-Old 'Spiritual Wife' On Sex
SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Prosecutors played two audio recordings Tuesday of a polygamist sect leader instructing his 14-year-old "spiritual wife" and several other young women on how to please him sexually, and thus win favor with God.
Warren Jeffs, 55, is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. He is accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, he took as brides in what his church calls "spiritual marriages."
A forensic analyst testified Monday that Jeffs was the father of the 15-year-old's child. On Tuesday, prosecutors played a tape of Jeffs talking to the girl when she was 14, after Texas Ranger Nick Hanna testified about documents and electronic files seized during a 2008 police raid at the church's remote compound in West Texas.
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual crimes.
Among the materials recovered during the raid was a record of Jeffs' marriage "for time and all eternity" with the 14-year-old in January 2004. An excerpt from hundreds of pages of Jeffs' personal journals said the child was "pure and innocent and willing to obey" and that he summoned her parents and "informed them of their girl belonging to me."
Followers see Jeffs as a prophet who is God's spokesman on earth.
Hanna read from Jeffs' journals, which said he took the 14-year-old the night after their wedding with him and another of his new wives on a car ride for "training." There, he instructed them on their responsibilities as his wives and had the session taped. The recording was transcribed and placed in church records later seized by police.
Lead prosecutor Eric Nichols played the tape for jurors, who followed along using transcripts.
"A good wife is trained for her husband and follows the spirit of peace," Jeffs is heard saying. He also makes reference to "drawing close" or "being close," which is how church members refer to sex. Two female voices say "OK."
In describing the session in his journal later, Jeffs said he told his wives they were "honorable vessels, property of your husband's kingdom and the Kingdom of God on Earth."
Jeffs has represented himself since firing his high-powered attorneys last week. He objected half a dozen times to the tape being played, arguing that the training session was protected by religious privacy rights. State District Judge Barbara Walther overruled him.
Later, Nichols played a 58-minute clip of another so-called training session from December 2004, this one involving what he described as 12 "young" ladies, including the one from the first recording.
Jeffs stood up and talked over it, rambling about how a holy trust was being broken. "I am but a mortal man seeking peace," he said. "I am not a threat to anyone. My faith is my only weapon."
Nichols said Jeffs was interrupting too much and shouldn't be allowed to represent himself. Walther let Jeffs continue.
"Mr. Jeffs, I do not want you to be removed from this courtroom," the judge said. "But you are jeopardizing your right to represent yourself with your continued behavior."
Jeffs has asked three times for Walther's removal from the case, but his latest request was turned down by a regional administrative judge Tuesday.
As the tape continued to play, Jeffs again repeatedly objected. But the judge, jury and prosecutors were wearing headphones to hear the recording, and ignored him. He remained standing long after falling silent.
On the recording, Jeffs was heard saying, "you have to know how to excite sexually and be excited. You have to be able to assist each other." At another point, quoting God, he says, "Each one who touches me and assists each other will have my holy gift."
Jeffs also was heard telling the girls to shower and wear white robes when they come to him, and gave them instructions on shaving their pubic hair. At the end, he softly sings the "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" refrain.
Prosecutors have promised to play still another recording - this one of Jeffs having sex with the 12 year old girl - before resting their case.
Before playing the other recordings, Hanna read excerpts of Jeffs' journal where he described the Lord ordering him to visit Eldorado, Texas, about 45 miles south of San Angelo, and the church purchasing 1,700 acres of land outside the town for $1.2 million in 2003.
"This will only be a place of refuge if it is kept sacred and secret," Jeffs wrote, adding that his followers should populate the area and let "a community grow here more in hiding before the neighbors find out."
He told the faithful they could build anything they wanted, thanks to Texas' lax zoning laws, and construction teams working around-the-clock erected more than a dozen buildings, including a sprawling, white-limestone temple.
Texas authorities raided the compound in April 2008 after receiving a call to an abuse hotline that turned out to be a hoax. More than 400 FLDS children who were placed in protective custody were eventually returned to their families.
But police saw underage girls who were clearly pregnant and found Jeffs' journals and the other documents in a vault at the end of a secret passageway in the temple. Another vault in an annex building provided still more records and files.
Jeffs and 11 other FLDS men were charged with crimes including sexual assault and bigamy. So far, all seven who have been prosecuted have been convicted - receiving prison sentences of between six and 75 years.