May 17, 2006

Child brides put him on FBI's list

St. Petersburg Times

Published May 17, 2006

HILDALE, Utah - Prophet. Religious zealot. Dangerous extremist.

These are some of the words used to describe Warren Jeffs since the 50-year-old leader of a polygamous sect was put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list recently alongside such figures as Osama bin Laden.

Jeffs, head of a renegade Mormon splinter group called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is accused of arranging marriages between underage girls and older men. He is charged with child sexual abuse in Arizona and being an accomplice to statutory rape in Utah.

Jeffs exercises extraordinary control over 10,000 or so followers who live mostly in the side-by-side towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Church dissidents say that during Jeffs' four-year rule, the number of underage marriages - some to girls as young as 13 - escalated into the hundreds. Families have been fractured in the process.

Posted by kshaw at May 17, 2006 06:48 AM