Polygamist church leader makes first court appearance in Utah via closed-circuit TV

Wednesday, September 6th 2006, 2:56 pm
By: News On 6

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) _ Looking pale and gaunt in a green-striped jail uniform, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs made his first appearance in a Utah court via closed-circuit TV Wednesday on charges he arranged a marriage between an underage girl and an older man.

Jeffs, 50, is charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice. The charges carry up to life in prison. He is being held in the Purgatory Correctional Facility in nearby Hurricane.

The hearing was conducted via video, with Jeffs in jail and the judge in the county courthouse in St. George. The judge set a preliminary hearing for Sept. 19, at which time the issue of bail will be addressed.

Jeffs said little during the proceeding. He said his Nevada lawyer is helping him find an attorney in Utah.

Since 2002, Jeffs has been the leader of the 10,000-member Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Most of its members live in the adjoining towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

Jeffs was arrested Aug. 28 during a traffic stop near Las Vegas after more than a year on the run and three months on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

Utah prosecutors contend Jeffs forced a teenage girl from his sect to marry and have sex with an older man. He faces similar charges in Arizona.