Monday, September 24, 2007
Jeffs appears calm as jury deliberates
FLDS leader Warren Jeffs consults last week with his legal team at his rape-accomplice trial.
They look nervous and ill-at-ease. But we can't be sure, because outside of saying "hello," they won't talk to us. They are the followers of Warren Jeffs, the man they regard as a prophet of God.

About 15 of Jeffs' followers are sitting in the lobby of a courthouse in Washington County, Utah, awaiting word that a jury has reached a verdict. An eight-member jury is deciding whether the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is guilty of being an accomplice to rape.

Jeffs is accused of ordering and presiding over the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to an adult male with full knowledge they would consummate the marriage. Jeffs was on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list for months because he has been accused of doing this to many girls, but only one would come forward to testify in this case.

Jeffs' attorneys say this prosecution is a persecution of religion, and nothing more.

Jeffs appeared calm in court as the jurors began their second day of deliberations. The alleged victim, Elissa Wall, who is now 21, told me in court she "had a long weekend, but is at peace."

Security is elaborate in and around the court, because authorities aren't quite sure what will happen if a man believed to be a direct pipeline to God is found guilty in a court his followers believe is run by "apostates."

-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 12:23 PM ET
  21 Comments
Warren Jeffs acts are dangerous, yes, but no more dangerous than what self-syled religious leaders have done for years and that is to intimidate their believers. With Jeffs it's sexual submission, but the fear factor and control factor are the same.
Posted By Bill, Laughlin, NV. : 12:47 PM ET
The Jeffs case is really sad because the whole premise behind his operation is brainwashing young people. I hope he has the chance to practice his craft in prison for a long, long time...
Posted By Chet F., Orem, Ut. : 12:50 PM ET
Gary,
Man...don't you ever get to go home!! First Iraq, then Portugal and now you are stuck out there in Utah covering this mess! I hope you are getting paid some SERIOUS overtime! LOL

I hope that Jeffs is convicted!! Maybe it'll knock some sense into his followers heads that he isn't anything but a normal person...well he isn't exactly what I'd call normal but....you know what I mean! LOL

But I must say I do have my doubts of him being convicted! He probably has alot of people in his pocket, so to speak, out there!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 12:51 PM ET
Gary/AC360:
When any woman is placed in a position of a second class citizen whether it is with a religious denomination, a society or a culture, human rights are violated.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 12:54 PM ET
Usually I have a gut instinct about people accused of crimes, but you have to follow the justice trail and wait until we can try someone before saying they're guilty, but in Warren Jeffs' case, I think most of us have the gut instinct that this guy's not innocent.
Posted By Riley Randolph, Exeter, MA. : 12:58 PM ET
Warren Jeffs, if guilty, should be put in prison; however, I think it's strange to watch both sides quiz witnesses about a culture they only know second hand. Both sides are looking only for the interpretations that support the understand they want the jury to have. It's as if the whole FLDS church is on trial by those who don't know much about the Fundamentalist Mormon culture and church.
Posted By Shel, Sandy, UT. : 1:06 PM ET
The "eternal salvation" card seems to the one played most often by religious tyrants. Well, nobody wants to jeopardize their soul, right? I don't think it's just the FLDS chruch controlling people. Jeffs may be the most visible "prophet" out there now, but there are other wolves in sheep's clothing .
Posted By Laura - Tulsa, OK. : 1:16 PM ET
I'd just ask people to not form opinions of the LDS church based on Warren Jeffs' actions.

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the Mormon church should know that loving care of the family is a man's primary responsibility. Jeffs showed neither love nor responsibility towards the young people under his charge and will surely be punished by both God and man.
Posted By AnnaLee G., Salt Lake City, Ut. : 1:22 PM ET
Anyone who believes that God condones rape is profoundly disturbed. This girl was a defenseless child when she was forced to have sex with an adult. This whole Jeffs thing is not only bizarre, it's digusting and I hope he is given the harshest sentence allowable by law. This man ran a CULT not a religion-at least not by the accepted definition of religion. This is a cult with depraved and apparently illegal practices. This is a no brainer for me. Put him in jail. Continue to investigate this cult. He broke the law and he and his followers should not be allowed to hide behind their "religion."
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 1:26 PM ET
I don't care for Jeffs and wouldn't mind if he burned in Hell or in prison or both, but he is entitled to a defense as everyone else is. We need to look at this not as a lynching, but as a formal trial.
Posted By James Justice, Alexandria, VA. : 1:40 PM ET
Jeffs reminds me of that guy who claimed to have murdered Jon Benet. Just look at Jeffs - 70 wives and he'd scare the heck out of most women in a singles' bar. Yikes !
Posted By David F., Providence, RI. : 1:45 PM ET
What an insult to the family structure! In my opin, Jeffs is having the opposite effect he intends to have on society. Without brainwashing, isolation and enforced stupidity masquerading as 'faith' none of these atrocities would be possible.
Posted By Levi S, Forest Hills, NY. : 1:50 PM ET
There's something wrong with Warren Jeffs way of doing things. The idea that a woman's hope of heaven depends not on her own behavior, but on whether or not she submits to someone else, disturbs me a lot.
Posted By deron martinek- omaha, ne. : 2:06 PM ET
Gary:

Thanks for staying on this sad soul and giving him the media attention he deserves. The guy is dangerous and sick.

If you see Elissa this week, tell her how proud I am of her for coming forward. She has paved the way for women. She is a brave one.

Every time I hear of this violence against women I think about the play on Broadway "The Color Purple." They sign a song in the show called "Hell No". I am singing that song for all these women stuck in this cult!
Posted By Anonymous : 2:33 PM ET
Now it's his turn to "stay sweet." Certainly, some of the cult mommies are watching.Good luck to all the former followers who defected from the compound.
Posted By Carol B., Frederick, MD : 2:40 PM ET
Playing devils advocate I really think Jeff’s has a chance here to get off. Especially since the jury was pooled from the same area as his sect. The more I learn about this case, and yes it’s been a fascinating case to watch, I can see that these particular charges might not stick. That said….if he’s deemed not guilty what happens next? Will they go after the cousin/husband? If they let both Jeffs and the cousin/husband return to the confines of the sect do they believe that they will ever be able to get them back in custody again? Will Jeffs return home vindicated and take a tighter hand to the sect? Will he remain on the most wanted list?

Lastly…..I have said this before….how in gods name is a woman defending him? Or is she only there because of the nature of the case? I have done some background checks on her and realize she is a member of the firm that is overseeing his defense but for Jeffs to let a woman stand in open court and plead his case has been equally fascinating to me. This is a man who sees women as objects things to pass around at a whim, who are to talk when talked to, shut up when not spoken too and dispensable like tissue. Gray keep up the great job and hopefully no more doors will be slammed in your face at least it wasn’t a jumping fish, then we might have had to watch it more.
Posted By Marcy, Mobile, AL : 3:07 PM ET
If he's a prophet, wouldn't you think he'd, you know, predict this happening to him?
Posted By Anonymous : 3:12 PM ET
Hi Gary,
Warren Jeffs is proof that religious fundamentalism can be found in any religion in any country in the world. Although I know little about the church he is affiliated with, I can guess that not all people who are practicing Mormons believe in him or his message.
Posted By Pamina, New Rochelle, NY : 4:20 PM ET
Hi Gary,
I don't know if they'll get that guilty verdict. I watched it all on court tv and Jeffs is evil, no doubt about it, but Ellisa's ex-husband testifying was a brilliant move by the defense because the guy is like the nicest, soft-spoken, innocent looking guy that wasn't much more than a kid himself at the time. For a jury to translate his testimony into believing rape is a stretch. If they can see the manipulation by Jeffs without any testimony from him, they will be lucky.
Posted By Anonymous : 4:29 PM ET
If he were convicted would that end this practice? Will others take his place and continue to force young girls into marriage? I hope he stays in jail, but my bigger hope is that no more girls are forced to marry and have children when they are still children themselves.
Posted By Jess, Paris, KY : 5:51 PM ET
Teach young girls that their only road to heaven is to submit to a man, deprive them of education and the skills to support themselves, and literally reduce them to baby making factories - its a trap with no way out except only the very very brave like Elissa who testified.

Rather than abhor Jeffs who is very deserving of our abhorrence, I think we should admire Elissa whose immense bravery helped bring this man to court to answer for his crimes. IF there is a hero of this cause it is her.

Annie Kate
Birmingham, AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 8:25 PM ET
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