Jury hears tape of Warren Jeffs instructing girls on sex with him


SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Prosecutors played two audio recordings Tuesday of a polygamist sect leader instructing his 14-year-old "spiritual wife" and several other young women on how to please him sexually, and thus win favor with God.

Warren Jeffs, 55, is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. He is accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, he took as brides in what his church calls "spiritual marriages."

A forensic analyst testified Monday that Jeffs was the father of the 15-year-old's child. On Tuesday, prosecutors played a tape of Jeffs talking to the girl when she was 14, after Texas Ranger Nick Hanna testified about documents and electronic files seized during a 2008 police raid at the church's remote compound in West Texas.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual crimes.

Among the materials recovered during the raid was a record of Jeffs' marriage "for time and all eternity" with the 14-year-old in January 2004. An excerpt from hundreds of pages of Jeffs' personal journals said that the child was "pure and innocent and willing to obey" and that he summoned her parents and "informed them of their girl belonging to me."

Hanna read from Jeffs' journals, which said he took the 14-year-old the night after their wedding with him and another of his new wives on a car ride for "training." There, he instructed them on their responsibilities as his wives and had the session taped. The recording was transcribed and placed in church records later seized by police.

Lead prosecutor Eric Nichols played the tape for jurors, who followed along using transcripts.

"A good wife is trained for her husband and follows the spirit of peace," Jeffs is heard saying. He also makes reference to "drawing close" or "being close," which is how church members refer to sex. Two female voices say "OK."

Jeffs has represented himself since firing his attorneys last week. He objected half a dozen times to the tape being played, arguing that the training session was protected by religious privacy rights. State District Judge Barbara Walther overruled him.

Later, Nichols played a 58-minute clip of another session from December 2004, this one involving what he described as 12 "young" ladies, including the one from the first recording.

Jeffs stood up and talked over it, rambling about how a holy trust was being broken. "I am but a mortal man seeking peace," he said. "I am not a threat to anyone. My faith is my only weapon."

"Mr. Jeffs, I do not want you to be removed from this courtroom," the judge said. "But you are jeopardizing your right to represent yourself with your continued behavior."

Jeffs has asked three times for Walther's removal from the case, but his latest request was turned down by a regional administrative judge Tuesday.

As the tape continued to play, Jeffs again repeatedly objected. But the judge, jury and prosecutors were wearing headphones to hear the recording and ignored him.

On the recording, Jeffs was heard saying, "You have to know how to excite sexually and be excited. You have to be able to assist each other."

Jeffs also was heard telling the girls to shower and wear white robes when they come to him and gave them instructions on shaving their pubic hair. At the end, he softly sings the "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" refrain.

 

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