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14-year-old bride calls wedding 'darkest time' of life
Salt Lake Tribune


November 22, 2006

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- A woman who claims she was forced at age 14 to marry her cousin in a polygamous sect testified Tuesday that the experience was "the darkest time of my entire life."

Her testimony came during a preliminary hearing for sect leader Warren S. Jeffs, who is charged with two first-degree felony counts of being an accomplice to rape. He allegedly officiated at an arranged marriage between the then-14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin.



Fifth District Judge James L. Shumate will decide if there is sufficient evidence to order Jeffs to stand trial. After a full day of testimony, the preliminary hearing adjourned until Dec. 14.

The witness - known as Jane Doe IV, who is 20 now - said she didn't dare defy the order to marry the man, whom she described as a name-calling bully.

She said she was told the order had come from Rulon Jeffs, the aging president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and relayed through his son. In the FLDS, followers are taught that the president, believed by the faithful to be their prophet, is always to be obeyed.

As Warren Jeffs stared steadily at her, Doe said she got word that she was to be married at a family gathering. She said she was in 9th grade at the time, and the news - delivered by her stepfather, Fred Jessop - came as a shock.

She would learn the name of her husband-to-be before the wedding, which was a week away, Doe said.

Doe testified that she went to Jessop later and pleaded to be let out of the wedding. "I don't think this is for me, I've prayed about it. I need to grow up," she recalled saying.

So Jessop told her to talk to Warren and Rulon Jeffs, she said. After they consulted with Jessop, word came back that she must go ahead with the marriage, she said.

And although she was devastated, Doe said, "At the time, I truly believed God was speaking through the prophet, through Warren."

Then, she said, she found out who her husband would be. Doe said she confronted her mother and Jessop, who replied, "You would defy what the prophet has revealed for you?"

The wedding took place in a motel in Caliente, Nev., with Warren Jeffs officiating, Doe said, adding that she wept for hours before and was all but speechless during the ceremony.

Weeping again on the stand, Doe said, "This was the darkest time of my entire life, one of the most painful things I've ever been through."

It would be weeks before the marriage was consummated, Doe said, and only when her husband forced her.

Doe said she went back to Warren Jeffs and asked to be released from the marriage. In response, she said, Jeffs gave her a book, In Truth and Light, which included passages from FLDS teachings about the marriage covenant.


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