Sunday, February 20, 2011

Plea agreement
Plea agreement resolves Utah man's rape case
A Utah man loyal to polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs resolved a rape charge by pleading guilty Friday to lesser crimes in exchange for a sentence of 30 days in jail and probation.


Associated Press


A Utah man loyal to polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs resolved a rape charge by pleading guilty Friday to lesser crimes in exchange for a sentence of 30 days in jail and probation.

Allen Glade Steed, 29, entered the plea to two, third-degree felonies - participating in an illegal marriage and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

Each charge carries a possible penalty of up to five years in prison. But in a deal with prosecutors, Steed will serve just 30 days in the Washington County Jail and three years of probation.

Steed could have spent the rest of his life in prison if convicted of rape.

"I think it's a good resolution for Allen and for everyone involved," defense attorney Jim Bradshaw told The Associated Press. "He's really relieved to put it behind him and move on with his life."

Steed, a member of Jeff's church, was charged with first-degree felony rape in September 2007 - a 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.

Steed was 19 and Wall just 14 when their marriage was arranged by leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In court Friday, Wall said the plea agreement marked the end of a long and difficult journey for her.

"I am only one of many who was injured by Warren Jeffs and the FLDS community," Wall said. "I realize Allen is a victim too of Warren Jeffs and is a product of his environment."

The Associated Press does not typically name victims of alleged sexual assault, but Wall has frequently spoken publicly about the case and published a book about her experiences.

Steed was granted a plea in abeyance on the unlawful sex charge, meaning it will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he successfully completes probation, and he wouldn't be required to register as a sex offender.

Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham, ordered Steed to report Monday to Washington County's Purgatory Correctional Facility.

A telephone message left for Washington County District Attorney Brock Belnap was not immediately returned Friday.

Washington County prosecutors used the marriage as the basis for filing criminal charges of rape as an accomplice against Jeffs in 2006.

Jeffs performed the religious marriage ceremony in a Caliente, Nev., motel and later counseled Wall to be obedient and give herself to her husband in mind, body and soul in order to make the unhappy marriage work, according to testimony at Jeffs' trial.

During the trial and later in her book, "Stolen Innocence," Wall said she objected to the marriage and was forced into sexual relations with her husband.

Steed testified on Jeffs' behalf at the trial, saying his sexual relationship with Wall was never forced.

Last year, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Jeffs' convictions on appeal citing faulty jury instructions and ordered a new trial. State prosecutors sought a rehearing but were denied and have not yet decided whether to retry the church leader.

Steed's case has lagged while prosecutors and defense attorneys haggled over its details, including whether the statute of limitations had expired even before the case was filed.

Steed and Wall were married on April 23, 2001. Wall reported the alleged crime to police and prosecutors in January 2006, after filing a multimillion civil lawsuit against Jeffs and negotiating an agreement with prosecutors that dictated how the information would be used.

Steed and Wall were granted an FLDS church divorce, known as a release, in 2004, after Wall became pregnant with another man's child. She has since left the faith.

Steed remains a member of the church and has not remarried.

Jeffs was extradited to Texas in November to stand trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and bigamy. Texas prosecutors say Jeffs had sex with two children, one under age 14 and the other under age 17.

A court entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

The allegations stem from information in church records seized by authorities during a 2008 raid on a church-run ranch near Eldorado.

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