Patterico's Pontifications

10/25/2009

First FLDS Criminal Trial Starts Monday

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Crime,Religion — DRJ @ 1:50 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

The first criminal proceeding in the Texas FLDS case begins with jury selection Monday in Eldorado, Texas:

“Texas prosecutors allege that Raymond Merril Jessop broke the law by having sex with an underage girl he married in a ceremony blessed by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the sect that owns, occupies and operates the secretive Schleicher County ranch.

Monday’s trial will be the first of 10 criminal trials for men in the sect. The state claims FLDS members prey on their children by marrying girls to older men, often their blood relatives; FLDS leaders and members claim the state is persecuting it for practicing its religion.”

The case reportedly pits two excellent attorneys, 60 prosecution witnesses, and is expected to last 2 weeks. If this anecdote is any indication, it will be a challenging two weeks for the 2,800 residents of Eldorado and Schleicher County:

“Peggy Williams, the district court clerk in Eldorado, said the courtroom will seat 267 spectators, but 300 people have been summonsed for jury selection. Although some have been exempted, disqualified or excused, the court will be crowded.

Jury selection, she said, may take two days.

The trial will be a strain for Williams’ office: It will be closed Monday because she and her deputy will be in court, and her only remaining deputy was summonsed for jury selection.”

The linked article includes more details about the attorneys and the prosecution’s witnesses.

— DRJ

42 Responses to “First FLDS Criminal Trial Starts Monday”

  1. I hope the trial is not before that fool who handled the the whole matter originally and separated the entire community from all their children.

    Ten prosecutions out of how many dozens of families broken up?

    If these facts are proven, I hope these ten get maximum sentences. Of course, a very nice environment wherever they may be incarcerated would be sure to happen. Heh.

    If any scum get off because of the unethical behavior of the State originally (serious probable cause issues), I would want those responsible to pay a very heavy price, and not just politically.

    Ed from SFV (4b493e)

  2. Ed

    When there are allegations from an organized group that child rape has occured, and no one will cooperate

    What would you do? They called her bluff – got loads of national sympathy from well meaning good people and put on a show of shows of wholesomeness while all the time arranging marriages and brainwashing children.

    Its funny that we decry this practice – rightly so – in Africa and the Middle East but accept it here if they wear little house on the prairie outfits and sport cute pigtails

    EricPWJohnson (3a31c1)

  3. It’s disgusting watching these groups marry 12 yo girls to middle-aged men. Their nonsensical pleas of ‘religious freedom’ when it’s really ingrained pedophilia are as sickening the Catholic Church’s hiding priest abuses of children for so long.

    Two little girls abducted and found murdered just this week. What the hell is wrong with this country that we can’t protect our children???

    It’s truly depressing.

    JEA (73988d)

  4. It isn’t only the girls who suffer, the excess boys are rejected and dismissed from the group, they can’t be allowed to remain in the church.

    Most of the boys end up homeless on the mean streets of cities where they have no experience dealing with predators, disillusioned, rejected and abandoned.

    The boys have only failed religious and philosophical systems to guide them in dangerous and unfamiliar places. They have been betrayed and excommunicated, while the girls have been betrayed and imprisoned.

    ropelight (e08903)

  5. I find the people defending the practices of these communities to be a bunch of sick twists, just like Lovey, and it would be a shame if the state blew the prosecutions over flaws in warrants or technicalities or because the participants were intimidated from telling the truth.

    I’m surprised places like FLDS haven’t established visiting programs, or maybe they have, to make a bunch of money on the side. Come try out our child brides for a week, no obligation, stay if you like. Sick fucks.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  6. I see one of the commenters talking about 12 year old girls. I can see how he might fill in that blank with his own imagination if he had only the linked article to go by. However, the “victim” in this case was 16 years old at the time of the so called crime. Furthermore, the age of consent in Texas is 17 years old. The punishment the defendant is facing for his crimes? 20 years in prison. No word on how much prison time the Texas authorities who abducted 439 children are facing for their malfeasance.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  7. Anon Y. Mous – What is the appropriate punishment for a state agency that believes it is acting appropriately to protect 467 children who are endangered by practices of pedophilic/religious cult?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  8. I won’t know what to think about this until I see a list of the movies that Mr. Jessop has directed.

    [note: fished from spam filter. –Stashiu]

    Walsingham (0f0f46)

  9. In Texas, it is legal for girls as young as 16 to get married, with the consent of their parents. And, of course, once married, it is legal for these 16 year olds to have sex with their spouse.

    But Texas does not allow plural marriage, so they are not recognizing this marriage. That it is the universal practice of all 50 states does not change the fact that they are engaging in religious discrimination.

    As to pedophilia, it depends on how you define the term. I don’t consider 16-17 year olds to be children, so I see no pedophilia here. Yes, the state rounded up a whole lot of very young children (based on a fake tip), but there has been no evidence that I have seen that demonstrates that young children were involved in these practices.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  10. Anon Y. Mous – Since you are avoiding a direct answer, what is the statutory rape statute in Texas? I was also under the impression that FLDS was avoiding calling these plural unions “marriages” to avoid the bigamy statutes. If certain actions are against laws on the books, such as bigamy and statutory rape, why do you consider it religious discrimination as opposed to criminal behavior? Why are your answers so evasive? Are you close to this cult?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  11. I don’t think I could be more clear. I do NOT believe that the actions described in the indictment are pedophilia, as I do not consider a 16 year old to be a child. I have nothing to do with the FLDS, or any other religion for that matter. I do, however, believe strongly in religious freedom.

    As far as the statutory rape statue in Texas, it is not my position that they did not violate that law. Rather, it is that the law is unjust, unconstitutional (based on a properly understood constitution), and, in addition, the state committed far more serious violations in its pursuit of this case.

    Where do you get your “impressions” regarding the position of the FLDS and these unions/marriages? Have a link?

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  12. When there are allegations from an organized group that child rape has occured, and no one will cooperate

    What would you do?

    As with all crime, however disgusting and ongoing, I would do my damnedest to create a record that would lead to a valid search warrant. If, for no other reason, than to avoid dismissal down the road on due process issues.

    This is especially true where allegations are so fantastical as to blow minds. Smoke is one thing, fire quite another. Ask the McMartins.

    Either it is more important to get it right, or it is more important to react on an ad hoc basis if the seriousness of the charge warrants it. I say get it right.

    For those guilty? I would be pleased to perform castration on them myself. And more.

    But, we just can’t go off on hysterical societal witch hunts. I loathe the evil in this world. But, I fear equally the do-gooders who act as zealots.

    Ed from SFV (4b493e)

  13. Anon Y. Mous – No need to get snippy.

    “Where do you get your “impressions” regarding the position of the FLDS and these unions/marriages?”

    From coverage of the story last year. If these were in fact plural marriages, don’t they violate bigamy laws? We are in agreement that statutory rape laws were violated.

    I’ll repeat my original question in light of your agreement that crimes were being committed in the FLDS community. What is the appropriate punishment for a state agency that believes it is acting appropriately to protect 467 children who are endangered by practices of a pedophilic/religious cult? Ignore the word pedophilic if it offends you.

    Your opinion as to the unjustness or unconstitutionality of a law does not obviate the need for people to obey it. I’m completely in the dark as to where you see religious discrimination coming into the picture with children being endangered by alleged criminal behavior. Could you please explain that part?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  14. Anon Y Mous keeps throwing around the “religious discrimination” label but fails to substantiate it. Its been black letter law for quite a long time that prohibitions on plural marriage are not religious discrimination under our constitution, nor would laws of general applicability like statutory rape laws.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  15. Here is a story from CNN which mentions the “spiritual unions” I recalled from last year.

    http://insession.blogs.cnn.com/2009/10/23/flds-trial-to-start/

    daleyrocks (718861)

  16. …avoiding a direct answer
    …evasive
    …close to this cult?
    …snippy

    Personal attacks much?

    What is the appropriate punishment for a state agency that believes it is acting appropriately to protect 467 children who are endangered by practices of a pedophilic/religious cult?

    The appropriate punishment for state officials who violate the law and abduct 439 children is prison. Their “beliefs” are not a justification for abusing their authority, any more than Bull Conner’s beliefs about the seriousness of the lawbreaking he faced made his actions appropriate.

    There were no endangered children, just hysterical government officials.

    Anon Y Mous keeps throwing around the “religious discrimination” label but fails to substantiate it. Its been black letter law for quite a long time that prohibitions on plural marriage are not religious discrimination under our constitution, nor would laws of general applicability like statutory rape laws.

    As I have previously pointed out, the state of Texas allows 16 year olds to have sex if they are married. The 16 year old “victim” in this case was married to her “attacker”. However, the state of Texas refuses to recognize the marriage since it is a bigamous one. The refusal to allow bigamy is based on religious bias. Therefore, it is religious discrimination.

    As to your assertion that it is “black letter law”…; it is anything but settled. In addition to elements within the Mormon community who believe it is a right, others, such as the ACLU believe that plural marriage is protected by the constitution.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  17. Something else – the state is going to proceed with bigamy charges against the defendant, but in a separate trial. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that they want to argue in the first trial that there was no marriage, so therefore statutory rape took place; and then argue in the second trial that there was a marriage and therefore bigamy took place?

    What a bunch of hypocrites!

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  18. Anon Y Mous keeps throwing around the “religious discrimination” label but fails to substantiate it. Its been black letter law for quite a long time that prohibitions on plural marriage are not religious discrimination under our constitution, nor would laws of general applicability like statutory rape laws.

    And first trimester abortions are a “right” under Roe. Where would I go to “substantiate” my belief that nowhere is such a thing to be found in the Constitution? “Settled law” isn’t a relevant argument when discussing philosophical differences.

    How long was Plessy the law? Fifty-seven years, give or take by my count. Roe is said to be “settled law” now and it is, what, 40 years old?

    Seems to me a perfectly legitimate argument can be made that when the State gets involved in deciding the legitimacy of a given religion/religious practice, incredible care must be taken. Who would have dreamed 50 years ago that abortions and same sex marriage were to be allowed, let alone rights? The law has moved into a place where beastiality and sodomy and whatever consentual activity veritably imaginable are now/will be protected. Yesterday’s outrages are now the norms. (Im not defending these practices)

    On what basis did our founding father’s foment revolution? Why, it was God-given rights and that the State derives power from those who are already imbued with these rights. If anon-y-mous, or anyone else is making a sincere case, I’ll listen, and the weight of proof would definitely belong to those who would deny them.

    For the record, I would likely agree with those who fail to see a divine right to sex outside of a “marriage” with a minor. With the ever increasing speed of our society and the growth of humans in the modern ages, I would place that age at 16, not 18.

    Ed from SFV (4b493e)

  19. This is all quite icky. They should just start directing movies, so the media can talk about how talented and influential they are.

    JD (f483eb)

  20. That’s all special Ed, but you too fail to substantiate any argument that plural marriage prohibition is religious discrimination … or were you not trying?

    Anon Y Mous, your comment, “The refusal to allow bigamy is based on religious bias. Therefore, it is religious discrimination.” is about four different logical fallacies in one. Starting with begging the question.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  21. Anon Y Mous,

    I’m not sure your facts are correct. From CNN, it sounds like Jessop married more than one underage girl and that this case involves a number of claims including that the 16-year-old victim — who was pregnant and in labor at the time — did not receive medical care during her 3-day labor because Jessop feared the sect/Jeffs would be prosecuted:

    The Texas Attorney General, however, built criminal cases against 12 men following the raid. These men, who include Warren Jeffs and the current defendant Raymond Merril Jessop, were indicted in July and August last year and charged with crimes ranging from Failure to Report Child Abuse and Unlawful Marriage Ceremony of a Minor Child to Sexual Assault and Bigamy.

    The alleged victim in this first trial was 15 when she was purportedly married to Jessop on August 12, 2004. She had been married to Jessop’s brother, Ernest. Ernest had been kicked out of the ranch by prophet Warren Jeffs and three of his wives were reassigned to his brother, Raymond. In this trial against Raymond Jessop, the Attorney General is seeking to introduce what is called evidence of “extraneous acts.”

    The defense vigorously opposes these acts on the grounds that they cannot be proven, are highly prejudicial, and irrelevant to the charge of Sexual Assault. One of the acts, however, is about the alleged victim in this case. In a motion filed late last month, the Attorney General wrote that “Jessop placed his purported wife and unborn baby in danger by not seeking medical treatment for them.”

    The alleged victim, who was 16 at the time, was in labor for three days in August 2005. She was not taken to a hospital “because of her age and the associated governmental pressures against the Prophet,” according to the motion which quotes Warren Jeffs.

    Other acts the Attorney General wants to introduce include Jessop’s purported marriage to eight other women, allegations that he engaged in illegal banking activities, and aiding and abetting a fugitive when he failed to turn in Warren Jeffs while Jeffs was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List. Sexual Assault is a first degree felony and carries a sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison. Jessop has been free pending the outcome of the trial after posting a $100,000 bond.

    Note to Ed from SFV: It is the same Judge.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  22. I’m not sure your facts are correct.

    Please be specific.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  23. I provided an extended excerpt but here is one thing that comes to mind: The victim may have been 16 when she was assaulted but if she was in a full-term pregnancy at 16, she may also have been 15 when she conceived. Just how far below the 17-year-old age of consent are you willing to go?

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  24. SPQR – why would I respond to false premises with which you challenge?

    Ed from SFV (4b493e)

  25. Anon Y Mous,

    If the CNN report is correct, the State will apparently offer other “extraneous acts” of wrongdoing against Jessop, including another underage marriage with a 15-year-old who had been previously wed to Jessop’s brother and then reassigned to Jessop by Warren Jeffs after the brother was excommunicated. That may not be admissible but, if it’s true, it should give you pause.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  26. Anon Y Mous, your comment, “The refusal to allow bigamy is based on religious bias. Therefore, it is religious discrimination.” is about four different logical fallacies in one. Starting with begging the question.

    Please name all four.

    Are you unaware that marriage is a religious institution that preceded any state involvement? Do I need to establish this, or will you concede the point?

    Furthermore, that it takes different forms in different religions?

    That the form of marriage endorsed by the states in this country comports with the religious tenants of the dominate religions practiced in this country? So much so that the other states (through their appointed senators) dictated the definition of marriage in the Utah constitution prior to admission?

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  27. Circular argument seems Anon Y Mous’ only rhetorical tool.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  28. I provided an extended excerpt but here is one thing that comes to mind: The victim may have been 16 when she was assaulted but if she was in a full-term pregnancy at 16, she may also have been 15 when she conceived. Just how far below the 17-year-old age of consent are you willing to go?

    I can only assume that if the state could demonstrate 15, they would make that claim, instead of the one they do make – 16.

    I am comfortable with an age of consent at 16, but I don’t think that 15 should carry a 20 year prison term. Really, 20 years? If we are talking about consensual under-age sex with a minor who has reached puberty, I can see that there should be some consequences, but something along the lines of a misdemeanor, particularly for a first offense.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  29. I’m sure there are people who are comfortable with an age of consent at 15, 14 or even 13 … but that’s not Texas law.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  30. BTW, my comments have focused on the charge of statutory rape, which according the Salt Lake Tribune article I linked to earlier, carries a 20 year prison sentence. I did see that he faces additional charges and prison time for things like money laundering and aiding and abetting a fugitive. However, it seems to me that the real issue is the statutory rape charge, especially since the state points to it to demonstrate it was justified in abducting all those children, so that is what I have focused on.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  31. What does Senor Mous’ opinion as to the appropriate age of consent matter, or it’s musings on the appropriateness of the punishment? If you do not like it, move to Texas and change it. We have a system of laws in place, and just because you do not agree with them does not give you the ability to ignore them.

    Jessops and his ilk trafficked in multiple underage “brides”. They are disgusting filth.

    JD (579091)

  32. I’m sure there are people who are comfortable with an age of consent at 15, 14 or even 13 … but that’s not Texas law.

    No, it isn’t. Of course, I didn’t advocate any of those ages. Merely that a 20 year prison sentence is inappropriate in those cases.

    Texas law is 17, unless the girl is married, in which case it is 16. And the distinction in law between the age of consent for a married 16 year old vs an unmarried one is, at its root, a religious one and should be eliminated.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  33. JD – If you want to snork multiple young teenage babes, form a religion and claim that it’s tenets command you to do it. When the authorities try to bust you, claim religious persecution. According to Mr. Mouse, that should get you off the hook. According to Mr. Polanski, everybody wants to snork young teenage babes and there is nothing wrong with it.

    I think there is something wrong with both Mr. Mouse and Mr. Polanski, but I do not know them personally.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  34. Anon Y. Mous,

    As I understand it, you agree the Texas age of consent is 17 but argue that because married 16-year-olds can legally have sex, all 16-year-olds should be able to have sex. However, that ignores the State’s interest in supporting valid marital relationships.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  35. As I understand it, you agree the Texas age of consent is 17 but argue that because married 16-year-olds can legally have sex, all 16-year-olds should be able to have sex. However, that ignores the State’s interest in supporting committed marital relationships.

    There is a reason that there are no longer laws against fornication, adultery, etc. It is not the state’s concern.

    Anon Y. Mous (ebb7f8)

  36. “Mous … the age of consent for a married 16 year old vs an unmarried one is, at its root, a religious one and should be eliminated.”

    So, are you saying it isn’t/shouldn’t be against the law if it is covered by a person’s religious convictions? You lost me on this one.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  37. Anon Y. Mous,

    The State lets 16-year-olds have legal sex with adults if they are married with parental consent. Such a marriage has extended family support and is a relationship where the parties are legally obligated to provide financial support for each other. That is not the case with sex between an unmarried minor and adult.

    I think you are using the State’s interest in promoting legal relationships to bootstrap your desire for a lower age of consent.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  38. DRJ – the State’s interest is an economic one?

    We’ve already established that in almost all jurisdictions, a minor may elect to have an abortion without reporting it to anyone, including the state. The cause of the pregnancy is similarly not required to be divulged. Thus, the age of informed consent is “whatever.” The age of reason is “whatever.”

    This is an abomination, but it is the law. If we really want to get behind the justifications or lack thereof, for acceptable conditions to marry,or to have sex, great. But, to rely on what current statutes may say is not a justification nor a rebuttal to the underlying philosophy of justice.

    I find anon-y-mous’ efforts at ox goring instructive and compelling. I don’t think I agree with her in all respects, but her skewering of the sanctity of the law and the bias found within is well reasoned.

    Thank you so much for this thread, and the previous ones regarding this case. You are a fantastic gift and resource to me, and I suspect, many.

    Ed from SFV (4b493e)

  39. The State’s interest in marriage is both economic and as a stabilizing influence on children and society. But the law is moving more and more out of the morality business, so that puts more emphasis on the economic factor.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  40. Thanks for your kind words, Ed. It is an interesting case and it’s especially interesting to see how different people view it.

    I’m not trying to discount the importance of consent laws (if it were up to me, I’d raise the age of consent), but I think Anon Y. Mous’s ultimate point is that we shouldn’t treat a married 16-year-old any different than an unmarried one. If you see this issue as solely about sex, there may not be any reason to treat one 16-year-old different than another. But an unmarried 16-year-old is different than a married one, in part because the former can be abandoned financially. I believe in marriage for moral reasons and I think States should, too, but the State also has an interest in encouraging legal relationships for economic reasons.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  41. What Jessops and his ilk did bordered on slavery. At best, it involved brain-washing and icky disgusting behaviors that fly in the face of our societal norms and laws. That is the nicest thing I can think of to say about him.

    JD (214c24)

  42. I must not be very spiritually advanced. I did not see what Ed saw in Anon Y Mous’s comments. I merely saw various rationalizations for middle aged men to pork multiple young teenage babes under the guise of religious freedom.

    daleyrocks (718861)


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