SALT LAKE CITY — An affidavit filed in a Canadian court case shows nine teen girls might have been brought from Canada to the United States to marry jailed polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs and other men from his church.
The 55-year-old Jeffs is head of the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He’s jailed in Texas awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault and bigamy.
Prosecutors say Jeffs had sex with two children, one under age 14 and the other under age 17.
A court entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.
According to the affidavit filed Thursday, between 2004 and 2006 nine girls age 12 to 18 were brought from Canada specifically for the weddings.
The papers state at least three of the girls — two age 12 and one age 13 — were married to Jeffs. It’s not clear from the records whether the girls are the same victims whose relationships with Jeffs are the basis for the Texas charges. All three of those marriages occurred in 2004, when Jeffs would have been 48.
A telephone message left for Jeffs’ Texas criminal attorney, Jeff Kearney, was not immediately returned Friday.
Of the six other girls, one was 16, four were 17 and one was 18, according to the record. They all married other church men, although the records don’t identify any of the husbands by name or age. The record shows the 16-year-old girl also had a baby the next year while living in Canada.
At least two of the ceremonies appear to have been held in the FLDS-dominated border towns of Hildale, Utah, or Colorado City, Ariz. The location of the other ceremonies aren’t included in the records, and the records don’t say where the girls lived after they were married.
The information in the affidavit stems from church records seized by Texas authorities during a 2008 raid on the church’s Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado.
The raid was prompted by the allegations that a teen bride had been abused by her much-older husband.
Jeffs is one of a dozen FLDS men who were charged after the raid with crimes that included sexual assault and bigamy. Seven have been prosecuted and all have been convicted.
The affidavit was filed by an attorney for the Ministry of Attorney General for British Columbia.
The province’s supreme court is in a months-long inquiry to decide whether a ban on polygamy is a violation of constitutionally protected religious rights.