Extradition hearing set for polygamist sect leader 07/20/2010 By JENNIFER DOBNER / Associated Press

A Utah judge has set a date for an extradition hearing for imprisoned polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs, who is facing multiple felony charges in Texas. Jeffs refused to sign extradition papers delivered to him last month at the Utah State Prison by Texas authorities. Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said Jeffs will be asked to sign the papers again at a July 27 hearing before 3rd District Judge Terry Christiansen. If Jeffs declines, Volmer said another hearing would likely be set. An e-mail seeking comment from Jeffs’ Utah defense attorneys, Wally Bugden and Tara Isaacson, was not immediately returned Tuesday. Texas authorities have charged Jeffs with bigamy, sexual assault of a child and aggravated assault. The charges stem from two alleged underage marriages between Jeffs and girls ages 17 and 15 in 2005. Evidence of the alleged unions was gathered in a raid on a church ranch near Eldorado, Texas, in 2008. Records confiscated during the raid indicated multiple marriages to underage girls, some as young as 12. Jeffs, according to the records, had dozens of wives; 58 were listed in the year before the alleged marriages that led to his indictment. Jeffs is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Utah-based church has an estimated 10,000 members and practices polygamy in marriages arranged by church leaders. The faith has enclaves in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Texas and British Columbia. In 2007, a Utah jury convicted Jeffs of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in a 2001 marriage between a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin. Jeff is serving two consecutive terms of five years to life on the convictions. The case is on appeal. An Arizona judge recently dismissed two pending cases against Jeffs, which also involve underage marriages of sect girls, after the two alleged victims said they no longer wanted him prosecuted.

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