4 Nov 2010

FLDS polygamist seeking rape charge dismissal claims statute of limitations expired

Google News - Associated Press August 13, 2009

Utah sect member asks for rape charge dismissal


SALT LAKE CITY — An attorney asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a rape charge filed against a man whose 2001 spiritual marriage led to the criminal conviction of Utah polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs.

Allen Steed was charged with rape by Washington County prosecutors in September 2007 — one day after a jury found Jeffs guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in Steed's marriage to Elissa Wall.

Wall and Steed were both members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Jeffs performed the marriage and counseled them during the relationship.

In papers filed in Utah's 5th District Court, attorney Jim Bradshaw said the charge should not have been filed because the statute of limitations on the alleged crime had already expired.

According to court papers, Wall and Steed were married April 23, 2001. Wall waited until January 2006 to report the alleged crime to police and prosecutors, and then only after negotiating an agreement that dictated how the information would be used.

In 2001, the statute of limitations for prosecuting a felony was four years from the date the alleged crime occurred. The law was amended in 2005 to give prosecutors eight years to file charges, but only if the alleged crime had been reported to police within four years from when it occurred.

In 2005, both Wall's sister and her then-boyfriend, Lamont Barlow, told representatives of separate law enforcement agencies that Wall may have been a victim of sexual abuse during her marriage. Neither meets the Utah Supreme Court's standards for an "acceptable report" which would extend the statute of limitations, court papers say.

Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap said Thursday that he is still reviewing the filing.

Wall was 14 and Steed 19 when the couple's religious marriage was arranged by FLDS church leaders. During the Jeffs trial — and later in her book, "Stolen Innocence" — Wall said she objected to the marriage and was forced into sexual relations with her husband, who is also a cousin.

The Associated Press does not generally identify persons who claim to have been sexually assaulted, but following the trial, Wall has often spoken publicly.

Steed also testified at Jeffs' trial, but said he never knew of Wall's objections and believed the sexual relationship was consensual.

The couple was granted an FLDS divorce in 2004 by Jeffs after Wall became pregnant with another man's child. Now 23, Wall has left the church and has remarried.

Steed is still a member of the church, but remains single.

Prosecutors have charged Steed with one count of rape and say the crime occurred sometime between April 14, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2004.

Bradshaw also contends that Steed can't adequately defend himself against such a nonspecific allegation.

"The crime of rape necessarily involves an act of sexual intercourse. It is not an ongoing, continuing offense which could be carried on over several years," Bradshaw wrote. "Due process requires that Mr. Steed be provided specific information in regards to which sexual relations the state is claiming was nonconsensual."

If convicted of the charge, Steed, now 28, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Convicted of two first-degree felonies, Jeffs was sentenced two terms of 5 years to life in the Utah State Prison. He is currently in an Arizona jail awaiting two trials on criminal charges related to underage marriages.

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