Daphne Bramham’s article on Jeffs’ extradition to Texas

Dear Network: 

Daphne’s first line says it all—Thank heavens for Texas!  But, I still regret the fact that Elissa Wall and so many other victims of this man will not see justice.  It is our hope that Texas will put Jeffs away and throw away the key. 

Nancy Mereska, President

Stop Polygamy in Canada 

Texas asks to try notorious polygamist Warren Jeffs 

By Daphne Bramham, Postmedia NewsAugust 13, 2010 

Warren Jeffs (L) smiles at defense attorney Richard Wright, prior to closing arguments in Jeffs’ trial in St. George, Utah, in this September 21, 2007 file photograph. The Utah Supreme Court on July 27, 2010 tossed out the 2007 sexual abuse conviction of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and ordered a new trial on charges of forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her first cousin.Photograph by: Doug Pizac, Reuters

Thank heavens for Texas.

At the request of the Texas governor, notorious polygamist Warren Jeffs will be extradited from Utah to face charges of bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault involving two under-aged girls, who were his “celestial wives,” in the Lonestar state.

Jeffs is the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) — the largest polygamous group in North America — with large chapters in Utah, Texas, Arizona and Colorado.

Last month, Jeffs’ conviction in Utah for being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court. Though a Utah court is set to hear his request for a speedy retrial on Aug. 23, there are questions about whether Utah will proceed.

And one month earlier, Arizona had dropped its own charges —including sexual conduct with minors and incest — against Jeffs.

So now it’s up to Texas, which isn’t lumbered by a history of polygamy. Unlike Utah and Arizona — where mainstream Mormons are a substantial proportion of the population, many who have polygamous ancestry dating back before the church banned polygamy in 1890 — Texas has few Mormons.

For decades, legislators in Utah, Arizona and, strangely, British Columbia have had a policy of don’t-ask-don’t-tell regarding the FLDS, despite the leaders’ growing penchant for forcing young girls into marriages with much older men and pushing surplus men to the edges of society.

The B.C. community of Bountiful has still ties to Jeffs, who is believed to have visited the 1,000-person town in the southeast corner of the province a number of times in 2005.

But the community has also been split in two since its leader, Winston Blackmore, was excommunicated from the FLDS in 2002. Some of Bountiful’s residents follow Blackmore, while others stayed true to Jeffs’ group.

Back in the Lonestar state, from the moment the FLDS started building its Yearning for Zion ranch near Eldorado, Texans kept a close eye on the 1,700-acre compound.

A local newspaper broke the story about the group’s move from its base on the Utah-Arizona border and followed it with constant updates about the construction of the massive temple that rivals the mainstream Mormons’ own in Salt Lake City.

And when there was a call for help from inside, Texas child-protection officials raided the place.

The call was later exposed as a hoax, but the information gleaned during the sweep forms the basis of the charges against Jeffs.

That information has already been subjected to scrutiny by the courts and there are questions of whether it was legally obtained.

Jeffs and other FLDS leaders may have thought that Texas might hesitate before the raid due to the 1993 Waco debacle, when a 50-day standoff with David Koresh and his Branch Davidians ended with a shootout. A fire then engulfed the compound and 76 people — including 20 children and two pregnant women — were killed.

Since the 2008 raid on Yearning for Zion ranch, Texas has convicted six FLDS men on a variety of charges related to bigamy and sexual assault of girls. They are currently in jail serving sentences ranging from seven to 33 years.

Because of the possible retrial in Utah, it is unclear when Jeffs will actually appear in Texas to face those charges.

Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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