May 13, 2006

A Sect's Prophet, Teacher, Fugitive

Los Angeles Times

By David Kelly and Gary Cohn, Times Staff Writers
May 13, 2006

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. There is nothing physically imposing about Warren Jeffs. He's tall and reedy with a quavering voice and, acquaintances say, an especially limp handshake.

Family members describe the church leader as secretive, strict and "very militant about his religion."

Jeffs, 50, grew up in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints compound in Salt Lake City, where he served first as a teacher and then principal of the sect's Alta Academy.

"Warren was very reserved, very starchy," said his brother Ward. "He was an intelligent man, and my father always favored him."

Warren Jeffs is accused of repeatedly raping his then-5-year-old nephew Brent while Jeffs was at the academy. In a lawsuit filed in 2004 by Brent Jeffs, who is now 23, the church leader is said to have a history of molesting children dating back to when he was 14. The suit said the church had received complaints for years that he was abusing children yet did nothing to stop him and instead made him school principal.

Posted by kshaw at May 13, 2006 03:45 PM