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Polygamist sect leader Jeffs to be extradited to Texas

By the CNN Wire Staff
Jeffs faces a felony charge of sexual assault of a child in Texas.
Jeffs faces a felony charge of sexual assault of a child in Texas.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Utah governor signs extradition warrant to send sect leader to Texas to face charges
  • Warren Jeffs faces felony child sexual abuse charges in Texas
  • In July, Utah's high court overturned Jeffs' conviction of being an accomplice to rape

(CNN) -- At the urging of the Texas governor, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed an extradition warrant that will send polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs to Texas to face criminal charges, according to Gov. Herbert's office.

There is no word on when Jeffs might be taken to Texas.

Jeffs was indicted in Texas in 2008 on a felony charge of sexual assault of a child. The indictment accuses Jeffs of assaulting a child "younger than 17 years of age and not legally married to the defendant" in January 2005. If convicted on the Texas charges, Jeffs could face a maximum penalty of five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of $10,000.

It has been a summer of legal action involving cases against Jeffs.

Video: Jeffs' convictions overturned
Video: Debating the Warren Jeffs ruling
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June 9, an Arizona judge dismissed charges against Jeffs after the Mohave County prosecutor requested they be thrown out, citing "much more serious charges" against him in Texas. The prosecutor said Jeffs' alledged victims in Arizona wanted him to "face these more serious charges as soon as possible." Jeffs had been awaiting trial in Arizona on four charges of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor.

July 28, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Jeffs' 2007 convictions and ordered a new trial, saying instructions given to jurors were erroneous. Jeffs had been convicted on two counts of being an accomplice to rape. He was accused of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marrying her 19-year-old cousin. Jeffs was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life.

Jeffs was called the "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS. The FLDS first became known to many when Jeffs was arrested during a routine traffic stop in August 2006. At the time, he was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

The FLDS is a 10,000-member offshoot of the mainstream Mormon church. Its members openly practice polygamy at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, and in two towns straddling the Utah-Arizona state line: Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.

Critics of the sect say young girls are forced into "spiritual" marriages with older men and are sexually abused. Sect members have denied that any sexual abuse takes place.

Carol Gantt of "In Session" contributed to this report.