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Jeffs trial: ‘It’s time for everything to come out’

Polygamous leader » Evidence points to at least ten underage marriage to girls as young as 12

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Of the 12 men charged, five have been found guilty, primarily on the strength of birth certificates, photos and DNA testing. Two men have taken no-contest pleas and are continuing to argue on appeal that the raid was illegal.

If Jeffs is also found guilty, another 700 so-called bad acts alleged against him may become public during the Texas process of sentencing by jury.

At a glance

Jeffs charges in Utah vs. Texas

Four years ago, Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl in Utah because he presided over her unwilling marriage to her 19-year-old cousin. That conviction was overturned last year and he was extradited to Texas. The charges against him there are crimes he is directly alleged to have committed — potentially an easier crime to prosecute and make stick, according to University of Utah professor Daniel Medwed.

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Some have already come out in Texas courts and in Canada, where a judge is weighing whether to strike down the country’s law banning polygamy. In two filings with the Canadian court, Texas Ranger Nick Hanna laid out marriage records and personal dictations pointing to Jeffs allegedly marrying six more girls from the U.S. and Canada, some as young as 12 years old.

Some were allegedly trafficked across the Canadian border from an FLDS settlement in British Columbia.

Two more sets of photos depicting two other then-13-year-old girls apparently wedded to Jeffs surfaced in hearings after the Texas raid.

That adds up to a total of at least 10 allegations of underage marriage.

Only two are the subject of the trial set to begin Monday, perhaps because there is not sufficient evidence that a crime took place in Texas — some marriages allegedly took place in Utah and Arizona.

But the threshold for introducing bad acts during sentencing is much lower than for filing criminal charges, White said.

"Everything in your past is now fair game," he said. Even a slip of the tongue can become sentencing fodder. And in the Jeffs case, "I would expect they’ve collected a notebook full of things that the man on the street would recoil at."

lwhitehurst@sltrib.comTwitter: @lindsaywhitehurstsltrib.com/blogs/polygblog

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