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Warren Jeffs Guilty: Jury Convicted in 3 Hours

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 04, 2011 6:20 PM

Warren Jeffs is guilty of child sexual assault, according to a jury verdict. Jeffs' conviction comes after the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints acted as his own attorney during the trial, according to the AP.

The West Texas jury took only a little more than three hours to deliberate before coming back with the guilty verdict, reports the Christian Post.

Jeffs, 55, could face up to 119 years in prison.

Jeffs was the leader of the breakaway Mormon sect that came under the scrutiny of the public and authorities when in 2008, police raided the compound where Jeffs and his followers lived. Following the raid, authorities took away around 450 children, though the children were eventually returned to their families.

Jeffs and several of the other men on the compound were charged with crimes such as sexual assault.

The charges came from Jeffs' alleged sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl in 2006. In 2005, he allegedly fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl, reports the AFP.

The two assaults came out of what Jeffs regards as a "spiritual marriage" between himself and the young girls, according to the AP.

Part of the evidence that was presented at trial was an audio recording of Jeffs' rape of the 12-year-old girl. You could hear both his and her voice during the rape. There was also DNA evidence that Jeffs was the father of the girl's child, according to the AFP.

The jury's found Jeffs guilty of aggravated child sexual assault. Sexual assault usually covers all the types of non-consensual sexual touching.

Aggravated sexual assault, however, is usually a more severe crime where the touching was coerced. Some jurisdictions also distinguish between sexual assaults that involve penetration and sexual assaults that don't, with harsher penalties for the former.

Though Warren Jeffs is guilty of sexual assault, it's not the last of his legal troubles. Despite the possibility that he will be sentenced to more than a hundred years in prison, he might be sentenced to even more prison time soon. Jeffs will be standing trial for bigamy in the coming months, reports the Christian Post.

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