AOL news posted this story:
Polygamist Leader Said He Was 'Immoral'
By JENNIFER DOBNER,
SALT LAKE CITY (Oct. 31) - Sitting in jail awaiting trial, the leader of a polygamous sect renounced his role as a prophet and said he had been "immoral" with a sister and daughter decades ago, newly unsealed documents show.
Warren Jeffs' attorneys included those statements in documents they filed in July as they sought to keep jail recordings out of his September trial in the arranged marriage of a 14-year-old to her 19-year-old cousin.
Fifth District Judge James Shumate agreed that the recordings could bias jurors against Jeffs and ordered the documents sealed. He unsealed them Tuesday.
Jeffs, 51, was convicted on two counts of rape as an accomplice. He is to be sentenced Nov. 20 and could get up to life in prison.
Jeffs also faces criminal charges in Arizona and in Utah's federal court.
In telephone calls Jan. 24, Jeffs told family that he "had been immoral with a sister and a daughter" when he was 20, according to the documents. He goes on to renounce his role as the church prophet and says the Lord had "revealed to him that he was a wicked man."
It is not clear who Jeffs is speaking about, and Jeffs does not elaborate on the conduct. Some listeners responded by telling Jeffs he is the prophet and was being tested, according to the documents.
The court filings also recount a videotaped Jan. 25 visit to the Washington County jail by a brother, Nephi Jeffs.
Warren Jeffs said he had been fasting for three days and had been awake through the night. He began to dictate a religious message to followers but fell silent in mid-sentence and didn't speak again for 13 minutes.
Again, he renounced his position as head of the church. His brother tried to encourage him and said he should see a doctor.
Jeffs was taken to a hospital three days later and was given medication for depression. Court documents say he lost 30 pounds, was dehydrated and suffering from sleep deprivation.
In February, when his health had improved, he abandoned his statements about not being a prophet and said he had "experienced a great spiritual test," according to the documents.
Among FLDS members, who cover their bodies from neck to ankle, even small physical gestures would be considered inappropriate, said Ken Driggs, a Georgia lawyer and polygamy expert. As for Jeffs' "immoral" conduct, "I wouldn't read too much into it," Driggs said.
"What that community may regard as immoral conduct is not necessarily what the outside world would consider immoral conduct. He could be talking about thoughts, or some affectionate or physical conduct," Driggs said.
A half-brother, Ward Jeffs, said he doesn't believe Warren Jeffs was married or had children at age 20. Warren Jeffs was a teacher at a private FLDS school in Salt Lake City in 1976.
Ward Jeffs, who has left the FLDS church, said he had no knowledge of allegations of inappropriate behavior with a sister. The half-brothers are no longer close.
Defense attorney Wally Bugden said the judge released the documents without his knowledge.
"I had no idea," Bugden told The Salt Lake Tribune. "There are significant due process issues for Mr. Jeffs as it relates to future cases in Arizona and there are significant privacy issues that we believe are protected."
In his order, Shumate did not explain his reasoning for unsealing the documents, and Nancy Volmer, a spokeswoman for the state courts system, said she did not know why the judge made the decision when he did. A court hearing was planned for Nov. 6 on a request by news media and a private investigator to release them as well as others.
Jeffs has led the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 2002, taking over from his father. Faithful members hold polygamy as a central tenet of their religion.
The mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, renounced polygamy more than a century ago, excommunicates members who engage in the practice, and disavows any connection to the FLDS church.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects dateline to Salt Lake City, instead of St. George.)