Salt Lake Tribune - Utah February 18, 2011
FLDS member pleads guilty in sex case
St. George -- For former teenage bride Elissa Wall, Friday marked “the end of a long and difficult journey.”
About three years ago, polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs was convicted of rape as an accomplice for presiding over then-14-year-old Wall’s 2001 marriage to her 19-year-old cousin. On Friday, her former husband, Allen Steed, agreed to a plea deal that ended a felony rape case against him.
“Allen was a product of his environment,” said Wall, now 24 and a mother herself. “I hope the chain of systematic abuse can end and many can be spared.”
Steed, 29, pleaded guilty to solemnization of a prohibited marriage and pleaded no contest to unlawful sexual activity with a minor, both third-degree felonies.
Fifth District Judge G. Rand Beacham sentenced Steed to 30 days in jail beginning Monday for the first charge and three years of probation on the sexual activity charge, which will be stricken from his record if he successfully completes his probation.
Steed did not speak about the plea, but outside the St. George courthouse, his attorney, Jim Bradshaw, said he believed the resolution is fair.
“There comes a point in time when it is in the best interest of all parties involved to bring to resolution,” he said.
Wall grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, one of 22 children her father had with three wives, she wrote in her 2008 book, Stolen Innocence. [see Books page on this site] When her parents’ union deteriorated, her mother was “reassigned” in 1999 to Fred Jessop, the sect’s bishop. Wall was stunned and objected when Jessop told her she was to be married.
Wall wrote that she was miserable in the relationship, abused and raped by Steed. The marriage ended after she met her now-husband, Lamont Barlow, in 2003, and had an affair with him.
Prosecutors filed charges against Jeffs three years later. During Jeffs’ 2007 trial, Steed testified that Wall initiated the sexual contact, and their subsequent encounters were consensual. He was charged with rape the day after Jeffs was found guilty.
Cases of solemnization of a prohibited marriage are rare, said Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap. “This is the first time we’ve ever prosecuted it,” he said. Adopted in 2001, the charge generally applies to people who perform illegal marriages of minors. Because Steed participated in the crime, he can also be charged, Belnap said.
Belnap said the plea agreement with Steed was the “right thing to do,” and exhibits a fair balance between “mercy and justice.” The plea, he said, recognizes the control Jeffs had over Steed. “Sometimes Justice has to remove her blindfold to distinguish between the unfortunate and the vicious,” he said, repeating a favorite quote.
Jeffs’ conviction, meanwhile, was overturned in July. The Utah Supreme Court ruled the jury should have been instructed that Jeffs knew when he performed the marriage that a rape would happen and told to focus on his role as a religious leader. Jeffs, 55, has been extradited to Texas, where he is awaiting trial on bigamy and sexual assault charges. Belnap said he wants to see how those charges play out before deciding whether to retry Jeffs.
Walls’ civil suit against Jeffs, the FLDS church and the sect’s communal land trust is ongoing.
“The best decision has been made,” Wall said. “I can walk away now, but with a lifelong burden of scars.”
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Polygamist follower of Warren Jeffs gets just 30 days jail for marrying his 14-year-old cousin
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
A follower of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs will serve only 30 days in jail for marrying his 14-year-old cousin.
Allen Glade Steed had a rape charge dropped in exchange for pleading guilty in Utah to participating in an illegal marriage and unlawful sexual intercourse.
Jeffs conducted the 'spiritual marriage' of Steed, then 19-years-old, to his teen cousin Elissa Wall in 2001in a seedy motel in the remote Nevada desert.
Married in a motel: Allen Glade Steed and Elissa wall who was just 14 when she went through a marriage ceremony to a man she says she 'despised'
Teen bride: Elissa Wall was told to obey the church and her husband but felt it 'wasn't right' to be married at 14
Each charge at Salt Lake City's Fifth District Court carried a penalty of up to five years in prison. But Steed, 29, will serve three years of probation and pay two $5,000 fines.
Facing charges: Polygamy cult leader Warren Jeffs who has been extradited to Texas
Steed's plea in abeyance to the charge of unlawful sex with a minor, means the charge will eventually be dismissed if he complies with all the terms of his probation.
A lawyer for Wall, who remarried and is now a 24-year-old mother-of-two, said she was satisfied with the reduced charges.
In her book Stolen Innocence, she told how 55-year-old Jeffs forced her to marry and ordered her to obey the church and her new husband.
The couple were members of his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
She recalled: 'Deep down inside, I knew it wasn't right. I didn't want to be married at 14.'
During a meeting in the church hall, she learned her husband-to-be was her cousin whom she said she despised.
She added: 'I remember he walked over and I got this really sick feeling in my stomach. Something in me just rose up and I really resisted.'
For years, Wall said she kept quiet and endured the sexual assaults. She was unable to turn to her mother, sisters or anyone else for help, as no one would dare defy Jeffs' will.
The couple were finally granted a church divorce - known as a release - in 2004, after she became pregnant with another man's child.
Steed remains a member of the church and has not remarried.
Jeffs was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life in prison on two counts of accomplice to rape for presiding over the marriage.
His conviction was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court in July of 2010 on the grounds that a jury instruction focused the jury on Jeffs' relationship with Wall rather than Steed's relationship with the girl.
Happy: Elissa Wall today with her husband Lamont Bartow, a former follower of Warren Jeffs' church, and their two children
Cult castle: The Yearning for Zion compound in Texas owned by Warren Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The trial court made a mistake in refusing to instruct the jury that Jeffs could not be found guilty as an accomplice to rape unless Jeffs specifically intended for Steed to have non-consensual sex with Wall.
Jeffs has since been extradited to Texas to face various charges.
A 2008 raid, over 400 children and teenagers were taken into care from his Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas, amid widespread allegations of child abuse at the sect.
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