Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Wed, Oct. 16

Jeffs sought following indictments

KINGMAN ­ Mohave County Superior Court has issued an arrest warrant for Warren Jeffs, the leader of the polygamy-endorsing church in Colorado City, and a Colorado City man whose identity is not being released until authorities are able to serve the warrant on him.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven F. Conn on Thursday issued the Jeffs warrant following the Mormon leader's indictment and sex offense charges against another man, both regarding the same alleged victim.

According to Matt Smith, chief attorney at the Mohave County Attorney's Office in Kingman, both are Class 6 felonies and punishable by four months to two years in the Arizona Department of Corrections, or by one year in the county jail, then probation.

The Mohave County Attorney's office has primary jurisdiction in prosecuting this case.

A grand jury in Kingman indicted Jeffs, 49, on five charges of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.

"Jeffs is not being charged with having sex with any victims. He is being charged for presiding over a wedding ceremony between a 28-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl," Smith said.

Three other counts charge the unlawful groom, age 28, of Colorado City, with sex offenses, and a warrant has been issued for the man's arrest.

The judge granted a prosecution motion Friday allowing the state to disclose the indictment and warrant for Jeffs. The motion said public input is the only hope of finding the elusive FLDS leader now that he has gone underground.

Smith said Jeffs has not been seen in Colorado City for quite some time and authorities are actively seeking his whereabouts.

The charges against Jeffs are for allegedly performing a ceremonial marriage involving a 16 year-old girl when he knew the girl was under the age of 18, the age at which people can marry legally, when he performed the ceremony on March 28, 2002. The allegation is that Jeffs was fully aware that the minor's adult partner ­ the 28-year-old man included in the recent indictment ­ would engage in illegal sexual activity with the minor. Jeffs allegedly encouraged the couple "to go forth and multiply and replenish the earth."

The union was not recorded or recognized by law.

The girl is 19 years old now and no longer living in the Colorado City-Hilldale area, but authorities are not disclosing her whereabouts.

Critics of the polygamous lifestyle practiced by members of the Mormon Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state-line border towns complain frequently of alleged sex abuses occurring with marriages of minors, arranged by Jeffs and prior leaders of the church, Smith said earlier.

Attorney General Terry Goddard commended Mohave County officials for obtaining the Jeffs indictment.

"This was a courageous move by Mohave County Attorney Matthew Smith to pursue an investigation and get an indictment," Goddard said. "This action makes it clear that Arizona law enforcement is serious about prosecuting child abuse cases and other crimes committed in Colorado City area. It is my hope this case will encourage other victims from the Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, area to come forward and report these crimes."

Goddard said his office continues to work with the Mohave County attorney and sheriff's offices, and the Utah Attorney General's Office in ongoing investigations.

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