19 Sep 2007

Polygamist's lawyer attacks girl's credibility

CanWest News Service - September 18, 2007

Daphne Bramham

ST. GEORGE, UTAH - The attorney for Warren Jeffs, the "prophet" of the largest polygamous group in North America who is charged as an accomplice to rape involving a 14-year-old girl, did some damage to the girl's credibility in cross-examination Monday.

The alleged victim's credibility is key to the state's case against Jeffs since her 19-year-old first cousin has never been charged.

The state alleges Jeffs forced the girl to marry the cousin.

Tara Isaacson got the girl - now 21 and called Jane Doe to protect her identity - to admit that her mother and at least one sister had told her she didn't have to go ahead with the marriage, that she had never spoke directly to Jeffs about sexual intercourse, and that Doe never told anyone about the alleged rapes until several years after they had occurred.

Isaacson also questioned how Doe could say she was "trapped" in her marriage when she worked; travelled twice to Bountiful, B.C., staying for nearly five months without her husband; and, in early 2004, was able to sneak away to Las Vegas with another man who is now her husband.

In response to Isaacson's questions about whether Jeffs had ever directly told her that she must have sexual intercourse with her husband, Doe told the jury that was impossible.

"We didn't use those words - sexual intercourse - in our society," Doe said. "He wouldn't have told me that because that is something we just didn't use."

The society she referred to is the reclusive community of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Hildale, Utah. There are somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 members of the church who live there and in the twin town of Colorado City, Ariz., as well as about 600 members in Bountiful, B.C.

In response to questioning, Doe said it was her mother who finally convinced her she had no other choice but to marry her first cousin even though Doe was strongly opposed to getting married at 14 to a man she hated.

Doe said she had prayed for an arranged marriage just as all FLDS girls do. But she was shocked that she was told to marry when she was only 14 - "at my age that was almost unheard of."

Doe had testified Friday that Jeffs had insisted the marriage take place immediately after his father - Rulon, who was the prophet at the time - had told the girl to follow her heart.

But Isaacson got Doe to read her sworn statement to police in January 2006 when she said that it was several hours after she had met with Rulon and only after Warren had returned from giving a sermon that he told her she couldn't know her own heart.

Asked why Doe didn't confide in her mother after the first incident, Doe replied: "Of course I didn't tell her I was raped. Who wants to tell anyone that they are being raped?"

Isaacson then asked who were the first people she told and Doe replied her sister, her new husband and a Baltimore lawyer, who subsequently put her in touch with a Salt Lake City lawyer, Roger Hoole.

Hoole is Doe's attorney in a civil case that she has filed against Jeffs, the FLDS and the church's trust fund asking for compensation including money and property.

In an attempt to further impeach Doe's testimony, Isaacson showed several photographs of Doe with her husband on their honeymoon and a few months later where she is smiling as well as some love letters and cards sent by the husband, who is expected to be called by the defence to testify on Jeffs's behalf.

Just before the lunch break, Doe's sister was called as a prosecution witness to support Doe's testimony, as well as filling in some of the blanks about the community and the influence that Jeffs exerted over its members.

She testified that girls and women within the FLDS have no choice and are taught to "keep sweet," be obedient and not ask questions.


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