Justice Not Served

[Trigger warning for sexual assault.]

Shaker The Great Indoors just sent me a heads-up that Mormon sect leader Warren Jeffs' rape convictions have been overturned by the Utah State Supreme Court:
Mr. Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an offshoot Mormon sect with an estimated 10,000 members, had been serving two consecutive sentences of five years to life after he was convicted in 2007 of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl from his church whose marriage he had presided over. But in a unanimous decision, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a state judge had erred when he failed to tell the jury that Mr. Jeffs could not be found guilty unless he specifically encouraged the girl's husband to commit rape, which Mr. Jeffs denied doing.

The victim, Elissa Wall, had claimed that Mr. Jeffs forced her at age 14 to marry her first cousin, Allen Steed, who then raped her. Prosecutors argued that Mr. Jeffs knew the marriage would lead to nonconsensual sex but insisted that the union go forward anyway and told Ms. Wall to be an obedient and submissive wife, despite her pleas for a divorce.

But Mr. Jeffs's lawyer, Wally Bugden, argued that though Mr. Jeffs had indeed encouraged the marriage and counseled the couple to stay together, he had never intended for Mr. Steed, who was 19 at the time, to rape Ms. Wall.
So, here's what I don't understand: In Utah, a 14-year-old can legally consent to sexual intercourse only with someone who is less than 4 years older, thus making any sexual activity between a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old rape, irrespective of whether the 14-year-old gave consent.

If Jeffs encouraged these two to marry and have sex, he was de facto encouraging the husband to commit rape.

This whole case is totally fucked.

In the meantime, Jeffs isn't being given his freedom, despite Utah's attorney general admitting a retrial would be difficult, because there is "an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Texas, where prosecutors are seeking to extradite him to face a number of sexual assault charges, including one involving an underage girl with whom Mr. Jeffs is suspected of fathering a child with." Jesus.

[Commenting Guidelines: Please note that there are polyamorous members of this community who do not practice the sorts of gender-inequitable relationships that are a hallmark of the sort of polygamist community Jeffs oversees, so if you reference his polygamy for a legitimate reason in your comment, please be sure to use careful and specific language so as not to alienate those who practice an egalitarian polyamory.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus